MONDAY, 13 APRIL 2020
Preamble to Proverbs 13
Proverbs 13 is a collection of twenty-five wisdom sayings, most of which contrast two opposites with each other (e.g. the wise and the foolish, in most cases, joined by ‘but’). The difficulty in picking verses from such a chapter is the chapter does not seem to have a single theme. I shall, therefore, concentrate on just one verse.
This is the verse I wish to share a bit on for today.
12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
In the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) it reads:
12 Delayed hope makes the heart sick,
but fulfilled desire is a tree of life.
Do we tend to think that when we have to wait for something, God is being unreasonable and testing our patience beyond our ability to handle it? ‘Why can’t things move a bit faster?’, we often ask impatiently.
Will not God strengthen us to wait patiently if we ask Him?
This is what Paul wrote to the saints in Colossae:
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,
10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,
11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.
Modern life with its ‘instant’ quick-fixes and solutions trains us in the art of impatience. Our culture and (social) media cultivate our taste for ease, comfort, and instant gratification. So when God tells us to wait far longer than we expected for that dream job, approval from a bureaucratic authority or some other agency, how do we avoid becoming like Israel’s wilderness wanderers, who “became impatient on the way” and “spoke against God” – Numbers 21: 4-5?
We need God to strengthen us with patience. Patience, as Paul’s prayer for the Colossians shows, is not the weakness of people who have no power to get what they want. Patience is the power to press on through difficulties, discouragements, and detours with a heart full of faith and a mouth full of praise. Are we able to pray ‘Strengthen me to wait patiently?’
And secondly, Have we fallen prey to the temptation to take shortcuts?
Too long waiting merely make taking shortcuts more tempting.
The Bible has instances of characters who decided they had enough of waiting. The Israelites, waiting for Moses to come down from Mount Sinai to deliver God’s word, decided they would build the golden calf themselves (Exodus 32:1). King Saul, waiting for Samuel to come and offer an animal before the battle, decided to be the priest himself (1 Samuel 13: 8-10). The Israelites, waiting for God to deliver them from enemy armies, decided they would buy Egypt’s help instead (Isaiah 30:15-16).
Dear brothers and sisters, are you being tempted by shortcuts today? Or perhaps this pause in the hustle and bustle of your life’s routine is the Lord’s opportunity for you to re-think options and not take that shortcut which looked so appealing to you four weeks ago.
Read Isaiah 30:15
For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
Finally, what greater area do we need the patience to wait upon God than in the area of the Future God has in Store for Us?
I am sure many of us compose in our minds of how we would like life story to turn out. But do we really, really invite God to be the Author of that essay with us, or do we prefer to go solo?
We need God to help us want the future He has for us — the future he has written in his unsearchable wisdom. Only seasons of patient waiting will train us to relinquish that role as the author of our own story and take up our role as a character in God’s story for our lives.
As followers of Christ, we know what our role is in God’s story: proclaim his excellencies. For some, God calls us to proclaim his excellencies from positions of plenty. For others, He may call us to do this from places of want and lack, where we live and speak to show that God, no matter what he withholds, is more than enough for us. Are we willing to surrender our wills and wait upon Him to reveal this to us?
We cannot, on this side of eternity, see the meaning of the final act in our own plotlines. But we must play our role as His character knowing that our Author has mastered for our spiritual good, the final twist if there be one.
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). The God who saved the world through a cross and an empty tomb know how to take our failed stories and turn them into something beautiful. Our role is to trust him and glorify him, even when we can’t see the ending.
Our Heavenly Father we pray for Adriel Yim’s operation. We trust that the doctors have re-scheduled his operation for Monday so that his medical condition may be attended to promptly. We pray for the team of doctors and support staff in the OT – may they do a complete job and be ready for any eventuality.
We pray for a good and smooth post-op recovery without any side effects. We pray also for Adriel’s parents Jun Yung and Siew Hup, that your peace will be upon them throughout this time.
Father, we also pray for the many voluntary organisations, some headed by Your children, who are delivering food and other essentials during this MCO to families which have totally run out of money. We pray O Lord, you will provide for these organisations financially so that their acts of mercy and compassion may continue. May You bless them and the volunteers assisting them.
Our Heavenly Father, thank you for your Word to us today. We pray You will teach us patient faith in times such as these, that we will wait upon you without doubting and complaint.
Help us always to speak words of life, grace, and encouragement, and to guard our mouths to preserve our lives.
Help us to hate falsehood and all forms of deceitful behaviour and hypocrisy, that our interactions with everyone will be sincere and transparent.
We pray we will not be misled by the love of riches and all that it offers; help us beware the pitfalls of wealth.
Help us choose our companions wisely, that we may draw close to and confide only in the righteous.
Finally, we pray we will not only leave a financial inheritance but a spiritual legacy to our children’s children, one that will keep them in the Lord’s way all their lives.
In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.
Ps Cheng Cheung
箴言十三章记录了一系列的智慧佳句，其中大部分都是鲜明对比（例如智者和愚蠢的，在大多数情况下加入了「但是」）。 从这章挑选经文有一定的难度，因为整章似乎没有单一的主题。 因此，我只会专注探讨一节。
「因此，我们自从听见的日子，也就为你们不住地祷告祈求，愿你们在一切属灵的智慧悟性上，满心知道神的旨意， 10 好叫你们行事为人对得起主，凡事蒙他喜悦，在一切善事上结果子，渐渐地多知道神； 11 照他荣耀的权能，得以在各样的力上加力，好叫你们凡事欢欢喜喜地忍耐宽容。」
现代生活所提倡的「速效/即时」可以磨练我们忍耐的艺术。现今的文化和社交媒体逐渐培养我们的品位，使我们追求轻松、舒适和即时的满足感。因此，当梦寐以求的工作迟延未得，或在等待官僚机构或其他机构的批准时，我们如何避免成为以色列旷野的流浪者? 他们 「心里烦躁」并 「反抗上帝」（民数记21：4-5）
我们在天上的父，我们为Adriel Yim的手术代祷。 我们相信医生已将他的手术安排在星期一进行，以便可以及时处理他的医疗状况。 我们为手术室的医生团队和支援人员祷告。愿他们能够完成手术，并为任何可能发生的事情做好准备。
我们祈祷手术后Adriel能早日康复，不会经历任何副作用。 我们也为Adriel的父母Jun Yung 和Siew Hup祷告，愿主你赐他们平安。
父神，我们也为许多志愿人员组织祷告，其中一些是由你的孩子所领导的，他们在这次行动管制令期间为那些完全没有钱的家庭提供食物和其他必需品。 哦主，我们恳求你帮助他们，使他们有经济能力继续他们的工作。 愿你祝福他们和帮助他们的志愿者。