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FIRST-PERSON: A rainbow in the blue sky

EASLEY, S.C. (BP) — I remember Oct. 10, 2013, so vividly. When someone called me with the news, they had to repeat what they said because my brain could not comprehend the words. Brent was dead. I had never met someone so full of life.

Brent was a 20-year-old young man who had a really big smile and a contagious enthusiasm. He could talk to anybody and seemed to be friends with everybody.

That was evident when Brent played high school football. He actually didn’t play much, but he cheered a lot on the sidelines. In his senior year on homecoming night, we were way ahead and the student section started chanting, “Put Brent in, put Brent in.”

The coach eventually put Brent in the game. On the next play, he caught the ball and scored a touchdown! The team and the fans erupted in cheers. We were hugging and high-fiving one another in the stands. It was like a scene from the movie “Rudy.”

In his junior year at college, Brent decided to go to the mountains with his Bible and spend some time alone with God. It was a beautiful fall afternoon in the mountains near North Greenville University. Brent sent out a Snapchat of a verse he had just underlined in his Bible.

It was Revelation 2:10: “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

A few minutes later for some reason, Brent decided to walk across the top of a waterfall. He slipped and fell 100 feet. Someone said, “When Brent fell, he fell into the arms of Jesus.” The news shook our community.

The funeral home planned for 500 people. More than 1,800 crammed into our sanctuary and an overflow area. It was a bright sunny day when we finally made our way to the grave. After the graveside service, as I was about to leave, I looked up into the blue sky and there was a rainbow!

We all stood there for a minute stunned at what we were seeing. Brent’s mother called it “a God kiss.” Even now when his parents are missing Brent or having a bad day, they will sometimes see a rainbow and it reminds them of that day. It is a reminder that they are not alone on this journey and that God is going to see them through.

Darcie Sims, a grief counselor who also lost a son, once described grief this way: “Our lives changed without our permission.” July is Bereaved Parents Month. If you know the sorrow and hurt of losing a child, perhaps this column can serve as your rainbow today. You are not alone on this journey, and God is going to see you through these hard days.

Psalm 62:8 says: “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before him. God is our refuge.” There are times when we all need to do that, but we especially need to do it in times of grief.

I understand the theological significance of the rainbow in Genesis 9. I wonder, though, what Noah must have thought when he saw a rainbow for the first time. The sheer beauty of it probably caused him to stand there and marvel at what he was witnessing.

Centuries later rainbows still make us marvel. Only God could put something that beautiful in the sky.

After the flood, when death encircled the earth, God did something miraculous for those who were left. He gave them a beautiful reminder that He is still God, and He is still there. With death comes a new season of life. What was true for Noah can be true for you. It’s certainly not the season you would have chosen, but God is sovereignly working in all of it.

If you are wondering how you will ever keep going, look up in the sky this week. You may just see a rainbow when you need it most.

    About the Author

  • Keith Shorter
    Keith Shorter is pastor of Mt. Airy Baptist Church in Easley, S.C., and president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention. This column first appeared in the Baptist Courier (, the convention’s newsjournal. Read All by Keith Shorter ›