The Arc of His Mercy

We are studying tonight at Barnes & Noble in Johnson City, and this is the view from the patio outside:

Check out this arch:

No fragment of a rainbow this.  It was a complete arch and with vivid hues.  The pictures don’t do it justice, especially since I couldn’t get the whole arch in one frame.

You can kind of see from the last picture that there was a double rainbow, with another arch (less bright) just visible at the top.

So there you have it.  God has been painting this evening.  Or rather, playing with His optical illusions and reminding us that what emerges from a storm is often just a matter of perspective.

Christians often describe the chaos and disasters of life as “storms” that pass over us.  It is important to remember that, as believers, we don’t look for silver linings in our clouds.  Some things that happen to us are thoroughly bad.  There is no silver lining to divorce, death, bankruptcy, child abuse or many other evil things that occur in a broken world.  What we do look for are “rainbows” – the multi-hued loveliness that appears when God’s presence shines on the darkness in our lives.  The white light of his glory breaks upon our tears, and a whole spectrum of colors shine in brilliant contrast to the clouds covering us.  Such beauty reminds us that the question, “Why did this happen to me?”, frequently evokes an answer that finds no expression in words.  In the presence of God, we walk in a light of truth that often cannot be articulated.

When God showed Noah the first rainbow, He offered it as a dazzling symbol of His mercy.  It is the bow of his wrath, unstrung and resting.  It reminds us that God’s promises to us never expire.  He is faithful to them for all eternity.  So, as we gaze in admiration on the beauty of the Lord’s character as well as His creation, let us remember the words of the psalmist:

The Lord is merciful and gracious,

slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

He will not always chide,

nor will he keep his anger forever.

He does not deal with us according to our sins,

nor repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

as far as the east is from the west,

so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

As a father shows compassion to his children,

so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

Psalms 103:8-13 (ESV)

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