Remember the Rainbow During the Storm
A storm is a menacing thing. All you know of a storm before it arrives is what your imagination conjures up as you observe the dark, sometimes swirling, clouds. All you know of a storm while in it is what surrounds you. After the storm, a completely different (perhaps a polar opposite) image emerges in the form of a colourful rainbow. The calmness of the moment with the warm sun rays causing the water droplets in the grass and on the plants to sparkle is palpable. If you could see the rainbow before the storm, do you think your perspective of the storm would change? Maybe your imagination wouldn't fill with darkness as the clouds approach. As the storm surrounds you, maybe you wouldn't be as fearful and fixated on the winds and rain. And when the rainbow makes its appearance, maybe a deeper sense of gratitude would fill you.
Now take the trials you experience or the troubles we face in the world; they are the storms of life. A rainbow appears after the storm, usually in the form of maturity, sometimes in the form of reimbursement, and always in the form of spiritual blessing. What if we saw this blessing during the storm—what if before the storm?
Many Christians miss out on the benefits of the Christian life because they fail to observe and think on the spiritual blessings in the Christian life. They’re concerned mostly with the things in this life, things such as career, travel, family, and dare I say it, also serving the Lord. Their eyes are too focused on the things of earth, and when storms come, they are completely unprepared to appreciate the rainbow. What is more, they are equally unprepared to help others through their storms.
Much of what looks like help from others turns out to be nothing more than observations of the storm. To be sure, we must know what the storm is like, not only from our perspective but also from others in order to rightly navigate it. But observations by themselves bring no hope to the situation, they must be accompanied with wisdom, humility, instruction, encouragement, and love. Observations by themselves soon turn into scolding. When one says, “See! I told you this storm would happen!” it is unhelpful at best, destructive at worst. Such observations accomplish nothing; they do not help the hurt. In fact, the insinuating glee that the storm finally happened slaps the face of those impacted by the wind and water. It sounds like a celebration of their demise. It has a demoralizing effect opposite the effect intended by the gospel promise. Christians are the last people who should think this way, but for some reason, they are the people who like to point out how bad everything is in the world. It is not that they should expect anything less than that in a wicked world, but to speak of it without remedy is unbecoming of them. Christians ought always to point to the gospel rainbow.
The rainbow travels on the tail of the storm because God put it there. When He made His covenant with Noah, He set the rainbow in the cloud to remind both Himself and His creation of His promise never to flood the earth (Genesis 9:13-17). However, the significance of the rainbow transcends Testaments to speak of the ultimate promise of Christ. There is much about this colourful bow that is symbolic of the promises we find in Christ.
1. God takes our judgement on Himself.
There are two meanings in the words, "I set My bow in the cloud" (Genesis 9:13). The first is that God has hung up His tool of judgement to rest from judgement. To an extent, this meaning could be derived from the text, but it is limited without the second meaning. The second is that God will take our judgement on Himself. If you inserted an arrow into the bow, it would aim heavenward, away from us. Christ took the punishment we deserved so that God could rest from His judgement towards us forever.
2. God looks to Christ as our promised righteousness.
God's signs of His promises have the same purpose for Him as they do for us. They are a reminder of the promise (Genesis 9:15). Since God is omniscient (all-knowing), He never needs reminding, yet He tells us these signs serve that purpose. The reason God does this is to assure us that He will not fail in providing what He promised. For us today, the rainbow represents Christ. Christ is God's promise of salvation, that if we believe in Him, we will have eternal life. God looks to Christ, who sits at His right hand, and He sees everything He has promised us; He sees our atonement, our righteousness, our future glory, our eternal life.
3. We look to the promise in the storm.
God sets the rainbow in the sky for us. It reminds us that God's promises are sure, that He remembers His promises, that we are not forgotten. Jesus speaks often of how we are to be heavenly minded if we are to follow Him, and Paul follows by explaining that Christ, who is in heaven, must be our focus since He is our vine, our daily bread, our living water, and every spiritual blessing. Christ is our rainbow, reminding us that God will keep His promise to save us forever. Just as after the flood, Noah's fear of the rain ceased every time he saw the rainbow, so our fears cease in this world of sin and death because we are certain we will overcome the world just as Christ did.
The Rainbow For Us Today
In the storms of life, we must always remember the rainbow—even when we cannot see it. Before the storm, during the storm, and after the storm, we think about the rainbow, and as we do, we remember the blessings of God. The blessing before the storm is the promise that Christ has already taken the judgement of God for us. Our storms will never be eternal. The blessing in the storm is that God does not forget His promise to us, giving purpose to our storm. He perpetually sees the rainbow at the end of the storm. The blessing at the end of the storm is the view of the promise we truly possess.
As we go through this life, may Christ be the hope in your storm. Further, may He be the hope you give to others in their storms. Christ is the gospel rainbow Christians carry in this stormy world.