“Tracing the Rainbow Through the Rain”


In his poem (which later became a hymn) “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go,” George Matheson writes, “O Joy that seekest me through pain, I cannot close my heart to Thee, I trace the rainbow through the rain and feel the promise is not vain.” What specific pain George was experience we do not know, but in his own words, out of “the most severe mental suffering,” the words poured forth as if “dictated to me by some inward voice.” We know this pain superseded any of his physical limitations of blindness or other maladies he endured. But in all of these he could trace the rainbow of promise through the rain.

Ironically, I haven’t been this sick in years, and I am coming up a total hip replacement in a few weeks. I have not had many dark days, though not a few cloudy ones have accompanied me. But what made them cloudy were not my own issues or concerns, per se, but the concerns for others, and the complete inability of helping relieve these concerns. In short, I am being made fully aware that I am not their rescuer. Worse yet, I have to stand by and watch matters become more complicated and entangle well before the Lord steps in and ‘fixes’ them. “Oh, if only I….” Ha, not even if….

In today’s main text, I see Paul and Silas in a rather dark place—literally. They knew nothing of earthquakes and loosed chains, but they did know a God who could deliver from the fire, through the fire or in the fire. So to this God, the Holy One, they sang and prayed and praised as they traced the rainbow through the rain.

They were imprisoned, limited to what they could do; feet in stocks but voices unfettered. So, too, you and I need to do what we can do in our cramped, limited situations where we can no longer “do” what we once did to help, relieve, or ‘fix’ or ….

Singing and praying and praising seems to be a great place to start tracing the rainbow in the rain knowing with full assurance that the Promise of His Presence is indeed not vain! Brothers and sisters, many of whom are in darker storms with heavier rains, lift high your finger of faith and trace with me His Rainbow in the rain! …

Main Text: — Acts 16:22-26 (NIV)— 22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

Additional Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.— 2 Corinthians 4:17–18 (NIV84)

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.— Ps 42:11 (NIV84)

 I remembered my songs in the night. My heart mused and my spirit inquired: “Will the Lord reject forever? Will He never show His favor again? Has His unfailing love vanished forever? Has His promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has He in anger withheld his compassion?”— Psalm 77:6–9 (NIV84)

Heavenly Father, I wait on You. You are my Hope. Expose the rainbow of promise, the Hope of my salvation. So I shall see Your Face. Lord Jesus, be my comfort and my Peace. In Your Name. Amen

Pastor Mike

“Persistent Prayer”

Date: 01-09-15

Text: — Nehemiah 1:4 —  When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: It is in the very darkness of our grief that we must continue to persistently offer prayers to the God.

My Thoughts: 

Usually the first “thing” that goes in a grief cycle is prayer. As CS Lewis once put it: “Where is God? … But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence” (A Grief Observed, p. 9). So why pray? As our emotions scream to us, “ It’s not fair,” and “if God really loved me, this wouldn’t be happening,” we hear the subtle gurgling of our soul’s draining of hope….

But Lewis groped through his darkness to realize that, “I need Christ, not something that resembles Him” (Ibid, p. 51). He observes that he does not need his own idea of God, but God as He is; not some icon or image he’s conjured up, but the real Christ, the real God. Only this reality will see him through this profound grief….

Lifestyle worshipers, it is in the very darkness of our grief that we must continue to persistently offer prayers to the God, Who is real in the person of Jesus. In these heart-cries, He is stripping away our Sunday School, childish images of God & Jesus that have been marred by adult disillusions, and replacing them with a truer picture of the Jesus who was well acquainted with soul sorrows and gut retching grief. At the very least, you can prayer to the God of Hope for those you know who are still groping in their darkness, hearing only the echo of the double-bolted door. Persistent prayer got Nehemiah through his grief. And it can see you through yours. Your thoughts.

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened for you. 

— Matthew 7:7 (ISV)

  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah! He is our merciful Father and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our suffering, so that we may be able to comfort others in all their suffering, as we ourselves are being comforted by God. For as the Messiah’s sufferings overflow into us, so also our comfort overflows through the Messiah.

— 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (ISV)

    Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.

— Colossians 4:12 (NIV)

Lord Jesus Christ,  You are my Hope of Glory. Shine in the darkness of my grief so that I may intercede for others in their darkness. Infuse in me a passion for those who have yet to find their voice in their grief.  In Your Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike

“Give Yourself Time”

Date: 01-08-15

Text: — Nehemiah 1:4 — 4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. [NIV84]

The Big Idea: So let us be gracious one to another and allow “some days” to mourn.

My Thoughts: 

When something sad happens, do you give yourself time to grieve? Depending on the sense of loss, the grief may be deep or shallow: The greater the loss the greater the sense of grief. Our culture doesn’t seem to afford us a time to grieve. We need to get right back to work…. So we stuff our feelings of loss and move on, but the weight of the loss doesn’t dissipate. In fact, it seems to get heavier with the passage of time.

However, if we do what Nehemiah did, who gave himself time to grieve, it may lessen the weight of the grief, and even give us perspective. Losing a loved one, especially a child, is a grief that seems to never leave us, but in time we can gain perspective and see how the Lord is going to use this tragedy for His glory….

Lifestyle worshipers, we dare not minimize the loss—ours or someone else’s, but likewise, we dare not minimize the time it takes to grieve over it. So let us be gracious one to another and allow “some days” to mourn (v. 4 above). Oh, and be gracious to yourself, eh? Your thoughts.

Scriptures to Renew Your Thoughts

Jesus wept.  — John 11:35 (NIV)

   Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.  — 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 (NIV)

   and [Herod] had John beheaded in the prison. …  John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place …. — Matthew 14:10, 12-13a (NIV)

Heavenly Father,  as I give myself time to grieve, open my eyes to the larger perspective. Though I may never fully understand what glory you are getting out of this, I trust that You are Good all the time no matter what.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Pastor Mike