New Church Life March/April 2017 - Page 10

new church life: march/april 2017 In this issue we also offer sermons by the Rev. David C. Roth (In Support of Mental and Spiritual Health) and the Rev. Geoffrey H. Howard (The Non- Appropriation of Evil), plus several Life Line items. We hope all of these will contribute to increased personal education and sensitivity, as well as to a larger discussion in these pages, and we invite response.) The great tragedy of suicide is that the pain and the lingering questions never go away. But neither do the Lord’s love and mercy. As Mr. Odhner concluded his reflections: “The Lord is infinitely loving and merciful, both to those who feel that love and to those who feel isolated from it. All the evil that the Lord permits, and all the blessings He provides, come from that infinite mercy which is constantly seeking to lead each one of us to heaven as far as we are willing to go, each on the unique path that is best for us.” (BMH) history and divine providence We know that the Lord’s providence operates in every aspect of our lives, with ripples extending to eternity. We know that the operation of providence should never be evident to us but that we should always know that it is there, working in everyone’s lives and bending them toward good. And just as this is true for the “least particulars” of our lives it is also true for the grand events that shape history. Here, too, we cannot see the operation of Divine providence in the day-to- day affairs of nations, but in retrospect – through the lens of history – we may see indications of how the Lord is working through often cataclysmic events and bending outcomes toward good as He looks to what is infinite and eternal in this world. One of the great tests of faith was the Holocaust in World War II, which left believers and non-believers alike to wonder: how could a loving God allow such horror for six million innocent souls? But we know that the Lord permits what is against His will – even such unspeakable evil – for the sake of human freedom. And we know that His love and providence are not in events t hemselves but in the aftermath, where evil can be bent toward good. Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, tells in his classic book, Man’s Search for Meaning, how he witnessed God’s love and leading – His providence – even amid the horror of Auschwitz. Among some of the more dramatic events in history that seem to indicate the workings of providence was a devastating earthquake in Lisbon on November 1, 1755. It is considered one of the most powerful earthquakes of all time, claiming the lives of more than 60,000 people – in Lisbon from the 76