New Church Life March/April 2017 - Page 106

new church life: march/april 2017 what god sees In the wake of personal tragedy – or just what we might call misfortune or bad luck – the question of God’s will and presence can be relevant and intense. Thornton Wilder famously probed the question in his classic book, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, in which five people plunge to their deaths when a rope bridge collapses in 18 th century Peru. Wilder asks how we are to make sense of such seemingly random victims. Is it just bad luck? Or somehow God’s will? Is God sometimes powerless in such situations? Are we all predestined to our fate? Is there a Divine plan for each of our lives, or is it all just random events and consequences? Wilder never really answered the questions satisfactorily in this story but did a better job in a book he wrote 40 years later, The Eighth Day. This is about another innocent victim, a good and decent man whose life is ruined by bad luck. Here Wilder helps us understand with the image of a tapestry that shows a tangle of threads and knots on one side, but a work of art on the other. The art, he suggests, is what God sees – and helps to explain why good people may suffer in this life. Some lives may appear twisted, knotted, cut short. From our limited vantage point this is what we see – just the random tangle of knots and threads. But God sees the spiritual continuum of our lives – the other side of the tapestry where all those knots and threads can help to produce a work of art in heaven. We all have that tapestry within us. So do all the people we see as victims of tragedy or “bad luck.” It’s all in the hand that is guiding the needle. (BMH) the call to angels One of our comforting teachings about death – whether sudden and unexpected, the result of disease or suicide, or the natural result of old age – is that the person awakening in the spiritual world is immediately cared for by angels. He or she still must deal with issues unresolved in this world, but within the embrace of those loving angels. We may wonder though: where are the angels for those who have been left behind and are hurting? And where is God – especially in the midst of tragedy? But God is there in all the love and kindness shown – by family, by friends, by community, even by strangers. We saw it after the 9/11 tragedy, when the spontaneous eruption of love all over the world quickly overwhelmed the evil of the terrorism. We see it in response to any tragedy, whether it affects great numbers or just one family. We see it in HZ\[\\\]Y[H\X\[[HZ[\[Y[X\[[H[\H[Z[YHܚY][8$\ZHB[[˂M