I don’t always appreciate clichés but sometimes they seem to be like a cold ice cream cone on a hot summer day, they just seem to hit the spot. Recently there has been a lot going on in my life and it seems as if there is one particular cliché that seems to apply not only to my life, but the life of many of those around me. Have you ever heard the cliché, ‘it seems like when it rains, it pours’?
The Bible has a lot of stories in it; some of those are seen in various ways. They are seen as either, analogies, metaphor, allegory, even history. One story you see early on is the story of Noah. In the story you see a people who have turned from God, and one character, Noah, who the people see as being crazy. Noah has a one on one chat room set up with God. In the dialog, Noah gets the text that the world is coming to an end, and it is time to start building a boat. Noah because he is a BFF with God decides to listen to the directions and starts building his boat. The only thing is; the people think Noah is a more off the deep end than most of us would feel comfortable with. That doesn’t change Noah’s disposition though, he keeps on moving forward, he keeps on working, despite the obvious things like, they had never experienced rain, had never seen a flood, they lived in a land locked area, and had never built a boat. Noah kept the speed dial set on God, and was in constant communication by chat, text, or direct conversation.
Of course the story ends with a massive flood where most everyone dies. It starts to rain, and for those outside of the boat, that cliché comes true, it starts to pour. Despite the 40 days in the Ark, Noah and some of his family are not so confident. Tough times lay ahead, but in the tough time, God sends a rainbow as a symbol of hope to an enduring promise and a bright future. That story in Genesis 9 has been told, debated, and argued for years as to whether or not it is legitimate. I challenge that no matter what perspective one takes, there is no doubt; there are lessons in life that we can learn from, and allow to inspire us.
I know, believe me, of the heartaches, difficulties, and hard times that come about in life. It seems at times that when life starts to get tough that one thing builds on the other. At times, it really does seem like when it rains it pours. I realize now, living in Kansas that sometimes the storms of life does damage. There is sometimes damage so severe that there is no other option but to rebuild. Where I live now, there is the spirit of Kansans, the spirit of those in the Central Plains that moves on and shows a resiliency that is not forgotten or lost. Whether it is the spirit of those who crossed on the Santa Fe or Chisholm Trails, the slaves who came west and established their own towns and mixed in with the accepting population of ranchers and farmers, or those who formed the traditionally historic Buffalo Soldiers, we can see an impressive resiliency. There are even those Mennonites, many which were put into prison camps during World War 2 for their pacifist attitudes that brought the Winter Red Wheat to America that helped make it the Worlds Bread Basket. There are those on the plains of this country that had to go through unbearable storms. Yet, they persevered, stuck it out, and for many, experienced the rainbows of life.
I recall several years ago speaking with an elderly Mennonite lady regarding her church, which I was a member at, outside of Tulsa during the years of World War 2. The Mennonites are traditionally people of peace. She shared with me the stories of how others bullied her due to her religious beliefs and because of her family speaking German during a time of war. This wonderful lady was one of those who suffered through the trials of life, yet she is one who ended up raising her children, was a part of a church that has grown and had a lasting impact on the community. I often wonder if those at the church realize the impact and history of women like this that made it ultimately possible for that church to be the church it is. I don’t know. I would hope there would be those who remembered that through the trials of others, we often have the experience of the rainbows we experience.
The truth is, not all of us always get to see the rainbows. I could share some feel good, isn’t everything wonderful message here, but that wouldn’t be the truth. The truth is, some experience the rainbows, others are apart of the process where we may never see the rainbow, but we can be honored and blessed to know that we were a part of something that provided rainbows for others. That is the sacrifice many of us make, it is the storms of life that we experience. I know about all of the feel good promises, all of the wonderful encouragement that many give, but I also know about reality, the reality of things I have seen, the reality of the things I have experienced. The truth is, some of us like Moses won’t always get to enter into the Promised Land, and some of us will be blessed just to get to see it. One thing I have learned, one thing I have tried to grasp onto which my faith provides is a hope, not per say a hope where I get what I want now, but a hope, that one day, I will experience eternal life, and in the presence of God, I will get to experience the goodness that God provides for me.
When the storms of life hit, my rainbow isn’t in always getting to see the rainbow, but in knowing that at some point, the rainbow will come out, when it does, I hope, I pray that others that maybe my life has touched can hang in there, endure, and ultimately see it. If my example, if my life has helped in that, I have the hope, the desire that I will know of that in my ultimate reward, my ultimate hope, in being there alongside God in Heaven. It is a promise that is promised in the Bible.
Romans 2:6, 7 (Contemporary English Version)
(6) God will reward each of us for what we have done. (7) He will give eternal life to everyone who has patiently done what is good in the hope of receiving glory, honor, and life that lasts forever.
Does it seem like in life that when it rains it pours? You bet it does, but also remember, at the end of the storm, whether literally or figuratively, through our relationship with Jesus, there is a rainbow. For those experiencing difficulties, let’s also take on the attitude of those Midwestern folks, especially those Mennonites who are often among the first to show up in a time of difficulty, and the last to leave during the time of recovery. Let’s be there for each other. Let’s stop throwing blame when another is going through rough times, let’s be there for them and share in our love, our experiences, and our life. Why? Because there is something healing in that concept of loving and treating others the way we would like to be. There is something holy in that process, so holy that if we mirror the example set by the one who ultimately set the example, we will realize that yes, it is true, others will see Jesus in us. I don’t know about you, but that is my goal, my hope. That in even in the storms of my life, that others will see the ability to endure, that is endure in the hope that is provided by Jesus Christ. May we all desire to weather the storms, and experience the rainbows, when it is too tough to seemingly endure, may we be there for each other.
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