Rainbow of hope
Between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, with the United States on one side and Canada on the other, flow the waters of the Niagara River. This waterway is one of the most beautiful natural regions of the world.
Compared with other rivers the Niagara is not a great river. It is only 34 miles long, less than a mile wide and seldom over 21 feet deep. The thing that makes the Niagara River significant is Niagara Falls.
The river flows along quietly at five miles an hour. Then, six miles below Buffalo there is a break in the even flow of the stream. At this point, about midway in the river, the Niagara plunges 158 feet—500,000 tons of water a minute—into the steep-walled gorge below.
As the raging waters are shattered and bruised on the rocks beneath the falls there is cast up into the sunlight the beautiful Rainbow of the Niagara. You who have been there know firsthand what a breathtaking sight it is.
Life is pretty much like that, isn’t it? You and I go along for years in a contented flow of experience. Our health is good, we have our friends, our work, our faith. Then suddenly there comes an unexpected tragedy—a breakdown in health, the loss of a loved one or maybe even a moral disaster.
We are forced to take a blind leap into an overwhelming abyss of suffering. Completely shattered on the cruel rocks of reality, our emotions are churned into a seething foam of bewilderment.
But out of our distress there is cast up into the sunlight of God’s love a rainbow of penitence, hope and trust. A radiance in the midst of our tears so that what could have been our destruction is transformed into a glorious Christian testimony.
Herein lies the unique greatness of our Christian faith. As George Matheson expresses it in his hymn: O Love, that will not let me go, I rest my wear y soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depth its flow
May richer, fuller be.
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.
Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church, Temple, where he was senior minister for 23 years before retiring. He writes a religious column for several newspapers.