For some people, discussing the scientific explanation of a sunset ruins its charm. Not so with me. When I learned why we see those beautiful colors, the sunset became even more precious.
The first interesting fact I learned is that light isn’t actually white. It contains all the colors of the rainbow, all the time, and all the colors blend continuously in with one another. Does this make you question your view of reality? Maybe it should . . .
As light travels to our eyes, it encounters interference. When waves of light meet a large particle of dust or water, the different colors of light are reflected in the same way. Result: we still see light as white.
However, when light meets a gas molecule, the different colors of light react . . . differently. Some light may be absorbed and then released in a separate direction. Only the color that was absorbed will be radiated. Result: we see that color in the sky.
I find it encouraging to know that I can’t see all that is going on in the natural world. Yet in spite of my obstructed view, I can trust that God is doing exceeding abundantly above all that I could ask or think. I might view a situation as mundane or unimportant or hopeless when, in reality, God is working behind the scenes . . . if only I had eyes to see as He does.
I find it convicting to realize that because I don’t see the world and those in it as God does, my view of others is limited. I might honor one person as a luminary, when, in truth, God recognizes the shallowness or pettiness inside that “star.” I might regard another person as ordinary, until God allows me to glimpse the shining inner beauty of one of His faithful servants . . . If God decided who we celebrated on the covers of magazines, would we be surprised at His choices?
I find it strengthening to remember that God can use any situation, test, trial, or circumstance to bring forth beauty. A wave of light being partially absorbed by a gas molecule is not an event to inspire poetry. But that interference allows us to appreciate facets of the sunlight we wouldn’t normally see.
And perhaps it is most meaningful to me that we only catch a glimpse of those awe-inspiring colors on one of two occasions: when the darkness is at hand or after it has finally passed.
If I can put one touch of rosy sunset into any man or woman, I shall feel that I have worked with God. G. K. Chesterton
Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky. Rabindranath Tagore, Bengali poet
How strange the fear of death is! We are never frightened at a sunset. George MacDonald
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