Unfinished Rainbows and Other Essays
Library of Alexandria
The rainbow was only a fragment of an arch because the needed sunshine was withheld. Had the sunlight been permitted to permeate all the atmosphere with its golden glow, the arch would have spanned the entire heavens. This is the reason why, in hours of sorrow, we do not grasp the fullness of God’s promise; we permit the denser clouds of doubt and faithlessness to keep the light of God from shining through our griefs; or, with a little faith, we get a gleam of light that gives us but a tiny fragment of the bow. While all the operations of this natural world are tokens of God’s unfailing thoughtfulness in keeping his covenant with man, a great event has made the rainbow peculiarly the embodiment of that thought. Looking from the narrow window of the wave-tossed ark, upon the silent grandeur of a world slowly arising from the waters of an universal flood, Noah beheld the rainbow and rejoiced in the blest assurance, that, while the things of man are subject to the ravages of time and destruction of contending elements, the things of God are always stable and secure. The most permanent products of man’s hand and mind are soon swept away, but the things of God endure, and continue faithful, in working out their appointed courses. Through storm or calm, events march with steady, unceasing tread, knowing that God’s roads are never worn, and God’s bridges never tremble and fall. Above the placid, mysterious world, calmly emerging from the muddy, wreck-strewn waters, was the peaceful, radiant bow, smiling in confidence upon him and his companions. The world had changed, but the rainbow was just as it had always been, stately, serene, and unaffrighted. The crumbling, flood-torn earth had not weakened its foundations, the drenching rains had not faded its colors, the hurrying, wind-swept clouds could not disturb it. Though it were made out of hurrying light and drifting mist it would not be swayed or moved even a little. Under its archway walked the guarding angels of God. Over the waters came the clear voice once heard in Eden, uttering the promise, “And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: and I will remember my covenant.” That is a sweeping promise that is literally fulfilled in nature. All clouds carry rainbows. Most of them are never seen by us because we lack the necessary keenness of vision, or the proper point of view to behold their woven colors; many are only partially seen because something intervenes and prevents a perfect intersection of heavenly sunlight with our earth-born mists; many are within the vision of all observing men; but, whether we see it or not, for every cloud there is a scarf of red and orange and yellow and green and blue and scarlet and purple. So, in spiritual matters, we find that for every sorrow there are beautiful assurances of God’s presence and unwavering covenant-keeping power. If we do not see them it is not God’s fault, for the light of his faithfulness transfixes every cloud that arises above his earth-born children.