(Thought for the month – March 2008)
A couple of weeks ago I was driving back from Edinburgh. As I left Peebles, the rain began to fall. Driven by strong winds, it lashed the car, making driving difficult. Minutes later the skies cleared and a rainbow spanned the River Tweed. This cycle was repeated several times on the way home, and caused me to reflect on the rainbow.
To many, this curved band of multi-coloured light is a sign of hope. In The Wizard of Oz Dorothy sings “Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.” In Irish folklore, there’s a crock of gold at the end of the rainbow. Apart from one person, I know of no one who’s ever got to the end of a rainbow. And though we can work at our dreams, there’s no guarantee that they’ll come true.
Many of us rebel against the difficulties of life. Yet to some people, their pain is a spur to great things. Last September, many paid tribute to Jane Tomlinson. Despite great pain caused by cancer, she took part in some of the most gruelling sporting events in the world. At her death she was described as an inspiration. Every day in smaller ways, ordinary people carry on their lives in difficult circumstances. We admire them because we see that their trials have strengthened their characters.
The Bible tells us that the rainbow is a symbol of God’s love and faithfulness. When God flooded the earth, only Noah and his family survived. Noah offered a sacrifice in gratitude to God, who in turn placed the rainbow in the sky as a sign that he would not destroy the earth again (Gen 3:16-19). Despite this promise, men and women still rebelled against God. In the end God took some drastic action – he sent his own son to save us (John 3:16).
On Good Friday we remember the cross on which Jesus died for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3). But on Easter Sunday we celebrate an empty tomb, because Jesus brings new life and hope (2 Cor 5:17). In the beautiful hymn, O love that wilt not let me go, George Matheson recognises the need to go through pain to reach joy. Let us join him this Easter in surrendering to God’s purpose for us. Then we’ll be able to sing with George Matheson:
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.