Coronavirus and the Christian:
The Rainbow through the Rain
The lockdown, as a result of Covid-19, has generated an explosion of colourful rainbows in the front windows of many homes. It has been refreshing to witness this child-led, innocent solidarity and to recapture this Biblical symbol of promise and hope from the hands of those who, for many years, have twisted and truncated it for their own, evil purposes.
The appearance of these rainbows has reminded me of lines from George Matheson’s famous hymn, ‘O Love That Will Not Let Me Go’:
O 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.
Though he was looking at a future of enormous promise, the revelation that he had a degenerative eye disease that would eventually blind him shattered his plans, prompted his fiancée to break off their engagement and left George Matheson with a broken heart.
Still, he was able to “trace the rainbow” through his personal rainstorm. He knew the Lord always has a purpose; everything is reasoned and planned, and for the very best of motives.
In our current circumstances, we must never forget the divine pledge of Romans 8:28-29 is still in the Bible – and when we examine the coronavirus pandemic through this Biblical lens, we will be enabled to trace the rainbow through the rain: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
The seven ‘colours’ in our rainbow must be:
1. Red – for PRAYER:
It is incredibly sad to observe how our secularised nation puts little store by supplication. The last time our United Kingdom arranged ‘National Days of Prayer’ in days of crisis was during World War 2 – regarding Dunkirk in 1940 and because of D-Day in 1944. However, even the anniversaries of these events have failed to prompt our people to consider the fact that when a nation bows its knees to God, He honours their prayers and intervenes powerfully with outstanding deliverances.
With medical intervention vital (though, with no known vaccine for this virus, limited) is it really too much to call our nation to the kind of repentance expressed in the words, “Lord, have mercy on us! Forgive our many sins…”?
Of course, Christ’s church is in the prime position to pray. To see His own people in the role of intercessors is what our Lord expects: “If I… send pestilence among my people; if my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14).
2. Orange – for PROCLAMATION:
The arrival of this pandemic has opened an effectual door to share the gospel. It has been most encouraging to notice the huge increase in the volume of Biblical material on the internet, with ministers accepting the challenge to grapple with technology and so cause the light of Christ to shine in this world’s darkness (Matthew 5:16). It has been equally inspiring to see many of the Lord’s people take the wonderful opportunity afforded them to show Christ’s love to others.
3. Yellow – for PRIORITY:
Due to the virus, the word “essential” has lodged itself in the centre of our vocabulary: services, journeys and exercise are just a few of the terms that are now glued to this adjective. Not only have we urged the unsaved to calculate thus –
Have you counted the cost if your soul should be lost,
Though you gain the whole world for your own?
– but we, too, have been prompted to do some basic reckoning about our Christian lives: to question the identity of our true treasure and run a diagnostic test on the reading of our own hearts – increasingly tied to earth, or being progressively tuned for heaven (Matthew 6:19-34)?
4. Green – for PATTERN:
For the home: An enforced lockdown has given parents special time to be with their children. While this is an undoubted privilege, it also presents a challenge to ensure, by a godly example, children are taught how to react to a crisis in a God-honouring way.
For the heart: That this coronavirus is not designed to drive us away from God but an instrument in His hand to draw us closer to Him, is a fact underlined by the clear connection that exists between Romans 8:28 and 29; everything that is designed for our good works ultimately for God’s glory, drawing us closer to Him and developing us further in His image:
Oh, the pure delight of a single hour
That before Thy throne I spend,
When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God,
I commune as friend with friend!
Draw me nearer, nearer, blessèd Lord…
5. Blue – for PEACE:
I have noticed numerous references to Psalm 46:10 since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak: “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Alongside this verse, Rev. Robert Hawker left the comment: “Yes! Blessed Jesus! I would be still! Knowing that Thou art God of Thy church, God of Thy redeemed, God of the whole earth; safely may we leave all with Thee, whether private, public, or personal concerns.”
If the instruction of Psalm 46:10 can be practised in our lives we will experience an abundance of peace, despite the widespread signs of communal panic:
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
6. Indigo – for PARTING:
It scarcely needs to be said that Covid-19 has brought us face to face with the reality of death. Current – and cold – statistics at the time of writing reveal there have been 1,285,285 reported cases of Coronavirus worldwide, resulting in 70,344 deaths.
That people around us are being compelled to keep their appointments with death (Hebrews 9:27) should prompt the serious inquiry, “Am I ready to die?” and show us how close, or distant, we are from the assessment made by the Puritan preacher, Thomas Watson: “We spend our years with sighing; it is a valley of tears; but death is the funeral of all our sorrows.”
7. Violet – for PAROUSIA
(THE SECOND COMING):
We should not be surprised to see more events like this pandemic as our Lord informed us pestilences and other problems would happen more frequently in the last days, when atheism abounds and, generally, people refuse to acknowledge or appeal to their Creator (Luke 21:10-11).
While most people have an appetite for the latest advice to protect them against the coming of the coronavirus, yet few give serious thought to Christ’s Second Coming. Let us not manifest the same imbalance. Rather, “lift up your heads… for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” and, with both calmness and joy, pray for grace to trace the various colours of the rainbow through this rain (Luke 21:28; Romans 13:11).
Dr I Brown
(Minister of the Martyrs’ Memorial Free Presbyterian Church, Belfast)