Friday, 4 June, 2021
Title: Let the angel of pain complete his work . . .
By: Ps Cheng Cheung
John 11: 4 When Jesus heard this, he said, “This sickness will not lead to death, but to God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
There are not many places in the gospels where the author declares “Jesus loved so-and-so.” But here, John states in John 11: 6 ”Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” Some writers say when you see stuff like this, it is as if God were teaching us that at the heart and foundation of all His interactions with us, no matter how mystifying and unexplainable and dark they may be, we must believe in and affirm God’s infinite, unmerited, and unchanging love.
When I read such statements I want to believe it with all my heart. Yet, to be honest, I struggle. This love permits pain to occur.
Mary and Martha must have truly believed that Jesus would quickly avert every obstacle to keep their brother from death. However, we read this: ” So when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He remained in the place where He was for two more days.”
How queer. What it is saying is that J͟e͟s͟u͟s͟ r͟e͟f͟r͟a͟i͟n͟e͟d͟ f͟r͟o͟m͟ g͟o͟i͟n͟g͟ not because He did not love Mary and Martha but because He did love them. So, it appears it was His love that kept Him from hurrying at once to the pair of grieving sisters. Anything less than infinite love would have rushed immediately to the relief of those troubled hearts. This would have helped to end their grief, to stop the flow of tears and at least to soothe their sorrow and pain, surely? But Jesus knew better. Only the power of divine love held back the spontaneity of the Saviour’s tender-heartedness until the angel of pain had finished his work.
Sow Cheng and I remembered well the travail of our third daughter as she struggled through her professional accountancy course, years ago. It was not smooth sailing by any means. If I recall correctly, each round of twice-yearly examinations saw at least one failed subject, until there was one subject left. Meanwhile her contemporaries had completed their courses ahead of her. There was pain and uncertainty – had she made the right choice? Had we placed undue expectations on her? Those were anxious times mixed with much prayer.
Looking back, who can estimate the great debt we owe to those (and other) times of suffering, emotional pain and anguish? If not for them, we would have no capacity for many small virtues we take for granted. Where would our faith be, if not for the trials that test it? Or patience without anything to endure or experience and without tribulation to refine it? And it is Jesus who refrained from removing us from such, not because He does not love us, but because He does.
My Prayer today
Lord Jesus, troubles without number surround me, and my heart and body fails within me. Grant me more grace to endure the trials I face. Help me trust in You.
Lord, when You see that my work is done, let me not linger on with failing powers, a forbearing worker in a world of frantic work. With a word just call me home and I will gladly come. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
在福音书里，没有多少地方，作者宣称“耶稣爱这人或爱那人”。 但在这里，约翰在约翰福音11：5 说，“ 耶稣素来爱马大和她妹子并拉撒路。” 有些作家说，当你看到这样的描述时，仿佛上帝在教导我们，无论他与我们的互动有多神秘，多么令人百思不得其解，多黑暗，我们都必须相信和确认上帝无限、不配得到、永恒的爱。
我和太太都记得我们第三个女儿的经历。她几年前在自己的专业会计课程中苦苦挣扎。这过程绝非一帆风顺。如果我没记错，每轮每两年一次的考试至少都会有一科没考及格，直到剩下一个科目。与此同时，她的同龄人比她较早完成了课程。她面临痛苦和不确定性 — 她做出了正确的选择吗？我们对她有过度的期待吗？那些焦虑的时期也伴随着许多的祈祷。