Back a few months back, as the news came in that Queen Elizabeth II had died, a rainbow appeared over Windsor Castle. It was a beautiful symbol of God’s goodness and promises at a time of grief. I’ve frequently talked in terms of “tracing the rainbow” based on the lyrics of the hymn “Oh Love that wilt not let me go” -specifically this verse that talks about joy.
Oh 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
That morn shall tearless be
I first wrote about this when suffering from depression back in 2019. I’ve also written recently about how those of us who are suffering whether from loss, loneliness, mental health or even persecution most need joy at Christmas. Joy isn’t something in conflict with our needs in times of sadness. Joy is something that pursues us and finds us at that time.
I also remember how someone commented once that it would be good to get a break from the tough times and enjoy a period of joy and happiness but the breaks never seemed to come. My thought was that if you wait for that break to come then it never will. Life isn’t divvied up like that. Instead, we consistently experience times of pain and trouble alongside foretastes of joy. There is however, a day to come when we will be with Jesus. That’s the morning that the hymn speaks about based on the Bible verse
weeping may stay for the night but rejoicing comes in the morning.
This reminds me not merely that there are better days ahead but specifically that we look forward to the day when we will be with Jesus and all tears and sorrow will end.
This year has been a year of tracing the rainbow through the rain. There have been moments of significant sadness most obviously and most recently the deaths of my mum and my father-in-law. There are other points of pain. We also moved house which was a source of joy but there was also pain involved in that because we were leaving behind a decade worth of memories in Bearwood. Things that brought us joy this year included
- Joining a new church
- New ministry opportunities both as part of the leadership of our new church and through a commitment to encourage and facilitate urban church planting.
- The joyful atmosphere at the Commonwealth Games and Gospel opportunities in partnership with mission teams
- This included moving to a new area with new neighbours and a house chosen to serve those ministry opportunities
- Celebrating family events including my sister’s silver wedding anniversary and my nephew’s wedding.
When I feel the pain of grief, I look to these things and remember that yes there has been rain but through the rain, the rainbow has been present.