`As the gentle rain from heaven'

`THE quality of mercy is not strain'd; / It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven / Upon the place beneath,'' Portia declares in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. And she says, ``It is an attribute to God himself.''1 How much we need this quality in our lives today! We're constantly presented with the picture of a world governed by cruel, materialistic forces. But our Father-Mother God is surely merciful. The Bible tells us of God's love.

Christ Jesus showed us a divine Father we can rely on to meet our every need. And he himself practiced such merciful love that he was able to heal the sick and the sinner.

Following the example of Jesus, we should cherish, even rejoice in, God's mercy and reflect that quality ourselves. But how can we do this when we see and hear around us so much that's unmerciful? Certainly not by ignoring evil but by cultivating through prayer a higher, spiritual sense of creation as the outcome of the one perfect God. True creation doesn't necessitate misfortune any more than God does. But we need to realize this fact, grow to understand it through prayer and purified living, in order to help bring to light the kingdom of heaven on earth.

The Psalmist, recognizing God as the source of all good, wrote, ``He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works. He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man.''2 Only a purer sense of God, who never creates disaster, can lift our thoughts and our lives above the discouraging picture of a limited material universe beset by recurring shortages of rainfall and food.

When we see or hear about destruction caused by the weather, we can be part of the solution by turning for relief to prayer, to a higher conception of God and man.

In a profound sense, the atmosphere we live in is an atmosphere of thought, and we can contribute to that atmosphere a faith in God's merciful goodness instead of blindly accepting disastrous weather as normal. When thought rises above the false sense of God as either the cause of disaster or as helpless to prevent it, the atmosphere of earth will be calmer.

Speaking of the conflict between good and evil, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says: ``The lightnings and thunderbolts of error may burst and flash till the cloud is cleared and the tumult dies away in the distance. Then the raindrops of divinity refresh the earth.''3

During a time of drought, a group of friends decided to pray about the situation every day, each in his own way. When they heard a person proclaim that God was withholding rain to punish the world for its sins, they realized that something needed to be corrected -- the false concept of a merciless and unjust God who punishes the innocent and the guilty alike.

Realizing in prayer the true nature of God as Love and His uninterrupted relationship to His expression, man, brought peace of mind and a recognition of the divine presence. And all around them the rains began to come, and come again.

We can rejoice in the mercy of our heavenly Father, divine Love, in His unceasing supply of good, and in the merciful nature of man made in His likeness. And then, in the words of a hymn, we will see ``God's mercy / Widespread in every place.''4

1The Merchant of Venice, Act. IV, scene 1. 2Psalms 104:13, 14. 3Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 288. 4Christian Science Hymnal, No. 249.

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