Rainbows have become a symbol of hope and gratitude throughout the coronavirus period. And artists from pre-schoolers to the great Damien Hirst have produced rainbow images that have been posted in windows and online all over the country.
Why the rainbow?
But why the rainbow? Why IS the rainbow such a sign of hope and gratitude?
Here are four reasons – and all of them can be found in the Bible!
1. Rainbows are beautiful
At the end of the Bible John of Patmos has a vision of a new earth – an earth that is finally the way God always intended it to be. It’s a vision full of light and beauty and there’s a throne at the centre (for the lamb that was slain – symbolising Christ.) And this throne is surrounded by a rainbow. Because, well, what could be more beautiful than a rainbow?
2. Rainbows speak of inclusion
Many NHS hospitals have incorporated the rainbow symbol of the LGBTQ flag into their own logos and badges to signal their acceptance of all peoples who come to their doors for healing.
In the Bible God seeks to be a blessing to all peoples, whoever they are – indeed to all creatures. He says to Noah in the book of Genesis, ‘The rainbow is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations.’
And this is a message that Christ gave his life for – to break down the walls that divide us. To call us to love one another as He has loved us. And for that love to bring us all healing.
3. Rainbows are about trust that good will ultimately triumph over evil
The story of Noah’s ark ends will a rainbow. The flood is over; the world has been cleansed from the evil that was destroying it; and now a rainbow appears as a promise of a new beginning, a new era of prosperity and fairness for all.
Every time we see a rainbow, we are called to remember God’s love and forgiveness and the opportunity that is always there to start again and to maintain hope that good will prevail.
4. Rainbows are about light in the darkness
Rainbows form when the sun breaks through the clouds. This makes them all the more appreciated because suddenly they appear in all their glory - after the darkness and devastation of a heavy rainstorm.
In the Bible the prophet Ezekiel has a vision of God’s presence and he says, ‘like the rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, such was the appearance of splendour all round.’ It is not just that God’s presence brings light but it brings light after darkness. This is, of course, what we see when Christ rises in glory on Easter morning - after the darkness and despair of his death on Good Friday.
Listen to the rainbow
So listen to the rainbow. Hear what it says to us in our situation today.
That you are a beautiful and precious part of God’s creation. And, as such, you are loved.
You are accepted and worthy of healing. And God will bring you that healing in body, mind and spirit through the work of all those who show compassion, who share their skills in the self-giving way we see our NHS workers doing.
You will come through this difficult time.
And, together with your community, you will then be in a place that doesn’t deny the suffering you have experienced but that brings new hope and joy.