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.

每日灵粮
星期五,2021年6月4日
标题:让带来痛苦的天使完成他的工作吧
作者:张祯祥传道
翻译:巫惠如姐妹

约翰福音11:4 耶稣听见就说:“这病不至于死,乃是为神的荣耀,叫神的儿子因此得荣耀。”

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。

当我读到这些爱的言词时,我想全心全意地相信它。然而,说实话,我很挣扎。这类的爱允许痛苦发生。

马利亚和马大一定真的相信耶稣会迅速排除一切障碍,让弟弟免于死亡。然而,我们读到:“听见拉撒路病了,就在所居之地仍住了两天。”

真奇怪。它所说的是,耶稣之所以不去,不是因为他不爱马利亚和马大,而是因为他确实很爱他们。因此,似乎正是他的爱使他无法立刻前往安慰悲痛的姐妹们。正常情况下,第一反应都会是立刻想让心烦意乱,所爱的人松一口气。这肯定有助于结束的悲伤,停止流泪,至少这样可以缓解他们的痛楚?但耶稣更清楚:只有神圣的爱才能适时克制救主的那份温情,直到带来痛苦的天使完成他的工作。

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。

回首往事,谁能估计我们对那些(以及其他)苦难和痛苦时期所欠下的“巨额债务”呢?如果不是他们,我们就无法拥有许多我们认为理所当然的小美德。如果不是试验,我们的信仰会在哪里?或者,若没有承受一些经历、磨难,哪来完善的耐心呢?而耶稣没有帮我们脱离这种处境,不是因为他不爱我们,而是因为他爱我们。

今天的祈祷;主耶稣,无数的烦心事包围着我,我身心感到无能为力。助我更宽容地忍受正面临的考验。求主使我相信你。主啊,当你看到我的工作完成时,让我不要再纠结于失势的力量,也不做在忙乱工作世界里的工作者。求主轻声呼唤我,我会很乐意回到你那里。奉耶稣的名祷告,阿门。