Below is the final of seven devotionals I was asked to write for a group of Judson University students heading to India for a three-week May term missions trip several years back. I used a rainbow as a metaphor for God’s patience with us. Given the hoopla surrounding rainbows in our culture the past couple of years, I might have gone with something else here, and the devotional certainly dates itself with the mention of an Encarta encyclopedia, but, on the whole, the general message holds up well, I think. To my shame, I am so quick to write people off, to believe the worst about their future prospects based on their current behavior. Thank God He is more patient with us than we usually are with those created in His image. (More on praying directly to the Holy Spirit, as I do at the end of this devotional, might be good fodder for a future post.)
Genesis 9: 12-16 – “God continued, ‘This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and everything living around you and everyone living after you. I’m putting my rainbow in the clouds, a sign of the covenant between me and the Earth. From now on, when I form a cloud over the Earth and the rainbow appears in the cloud, I’ll remember my covenant between me and you and everything living, that never again will floodwaters destroy all life. When the rainbow appears in the cloud, I’ll see it and remember the eternal covenant between God and everything living, every last living creature on Earth.’” (The Message)
One of the coolest of any natural phenomena is the rainbow. Kids and adults alike stop to “ooh” and “ah” at its appearance. Although I’m terrible at science (I always hate to get the green pie pieces in Trivial Pursuit), my Encarta CD-ROM encyclopedia tells me that when “the sunlight enters a raindrop it is refracted, or bent, by and reflected from the drop in such a way that the light appears as a spectrum of colors.”
The scripture passage above illustrates the metaphorical reflection that takes place to accompany the physical reflection of the sunlight hitting the raindrop, each and every time a rainbow shows up. It is God’s promise never to allow His wrath to overcome Him again in the form of an earth-destroying flood. Certainly the world is as wicked now as it ever has been. Scripture paints no rosy picture of things getting better—from a purely moral perspective—as time goes on. And yet, God chooses to restrain Himself, to hold back, to wait. Second Peter 3:9 tells us that God doesn’t want any people to perish as the result of their sin, and so He is patient.
In like manner, would you be patient with your brothers and sisters in Christ on this trip, and would you be particularly patient with unbelievers? Would you, especially, not write the non-Christians off, give them up as lost causes, leave them to their just desserts, or wash your hands of them, Pilate-style? Instead of becoming angry or frustrated by the lack of belief, or morals, or basic human decency that the non-Christians with whom you come into contact on this trip display, would you channel that energy into prayer for them, that they would—somehow, someway—understand their need for a Savior? Would you exhibit to them the same patience that God has exhibited to all of us?
Just as the sunlight is bent by the raindrop to produce the rainbow, may God take the interactions that you have with unbelievers, as difficult as they might be, and bend them into a beautiful rainbow of patience for all the world to see.
Prayer for today:
Holy Spirit, Who comforts, sustains, guides, and directs, make us patient beyond what is humanly possible, that our relationships with those that don’t know You might please You and benefit them, for the growth of Your Kingdom. Amen.
The Lord be with you!