Last week was a stressful one for me.  As if a seemingly endless to-do-list wasn’t enough, an intestinal bug also left me physically drained. I didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel of my schedule, and the resulting pressure was taking a toll on me. Driving home from a family event a couple of hours away on Saturday early evening, I started pouring out my thoughts—or better stated, my complaints—to God. Soon after this, my wife called me (FYI: I used the hands-free phone system in my car!), and the frustration kept pouring out of me.  My words were saturated with fatigue, disappointment, and sadness.  I’m grateful that my wife quietly listened and reminded me that I am loved, through all the stresses, demands, and disappointments of my life.

Deep inside I knew what I really needed was a fresh touch from God.

Soon after our conversation I drove through a rainstorm and decided to take a slightly different way route home.  A few minutes later a full rainbow appeared in front of me, and from my vantage point, it looked like I was headed right towards the center of its arc. The rainbow stayed in place for almost the entirety of my drive home. A little later I arrived at my church to help set up for Sunday worship. After I had completed my work I saw that the preaching pastor was rehearsing his message in another room, and I stopped in to say hi. After talking for a few minutes he offered to pray for me, and we spent several minutes in prayer for each other, our families, and our church.

The next morning’s worship services were marked by a deep sense of God’s presence and power.

As I reflect back on this event, I am reminded of a few lessons on a life of worship:

•    God is big enough to handle our stresses and complaints. The rainbow reminds us that God doesn’t destroy worshipers who seek and know Him, but reminds us that His love is a covenant bond that will never be broken—even when our flawed nature rears its head, or we are feeling overwhelmed by trying times and stressful schedules. King David poured out his complaints to God (see Psalm 42 for one example), but always reminded himself of God’s sovereign control and goodness, so the outcome of his venting was praise and not anger.

•    God understands that we all go through times of fatigue, disappointment, and even sadness. Jesus said, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Even as the rainbow seemed to urge me to keep moving toward it, God invites each of us to draw near to him in times when we are most vulnerable or broken. He will refresh and renew us if we ask and are open to His touch on our heart, mind, and life.

•    God loves to remind us that someday all will be well. The rainbow described in the Book of Revelation (See Revelation 4:3) reminds us that God is in control—above the storms of life— in charge of all the cosmos. The heavenly rainbow exists because it reflects God’s stunning beauty, power, and majesty. This same God is the One who promises that “…that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28)

•    In the meantime, God desperately wants to remind us that He is ALWAYS with us, even when we don’t feel it. The Israelites had a type of rainbow described as a pillar of cloud (see Exodus 13) to lead them and reassure them of God’s presence with them.  God’s Holy Spirit is available to live within us and remind us that we are His loved, adopted sons and daughters, both now and forever.

•    God sends messages of His love our way: sometimes through rainbows, but more often through people…in my case, my wife, and a trusted pastor and colleague. Pray for and seek out trusted Christ-followers when you hit the wall in your life.

Anyone who decides to live a life that worships God will go through hard days.  But it’s guaranteed: God is bigger than any hardship we go through, and will lead us by the rainbow of His presence, power, and love through all our days and throughout eternity.

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Thanks and God bless you!
Chris Atkins