Forbearance  

         It is difficult to remain patient during times of suffering, just as everyone needs patience during this pandemic.  The degree of discomfort during these periods depends on the length of time and the depth of the misery.  In suffering, there are also factors involved such as mental and emotional anguish, and external pressures.  Factor this in with an unknown waiting time, and this period will be intolerable.  No wonder the Chinese character for "forbearance" is a sword stuck in one’s "heart” (忍).  The Chinese people have a very positive understanding of "forbearance”.  Two famous Chinese idioms state that "Endurance is more precious than gold" and "Great plans are spoiled by those who don’t endure".  Clearly being patient is no easy task.  Yet, Scripture teaches this is a virtue everyone should practice and apply.     

          Over the next few weeks, we will explore four situations where God tells us to endure, and learn the wisdom of “Forbearance”.

           1.      Injustice          

           “When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.  They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?”  Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.          Revelation 6:9-11  

             The greatest pain of Injustice is that one’s innocence has not been shown, nor have steps been taken to right the wrong.  It is extremely painful for those who have been wronged to wait patiently because they believe that they are innocent and it is their right to seek retribution.  Waiting just adds to the torment.  For this reason, we find our Lord doing two things in this passage: 1. He confirmed the innocence of these martyrs by giving them white robes. 2. He explained that justice would be served though they must endure a little longer (They have to wait patiently until even more servants suffer and the number is completed).  This is not an easy truth to understand.  

             When Christians are wronged, we don’t need to be grieving or complaining about our innocence, but find comfort from God for He is righteous and just.  He will never regard the guilty as innocent, nor the innocent as guilty.  The time for justice may not be here yet not because the Lord is delaying, and if He is, there is a reason beyond our understanding yet to be revealed.  In short, if a Christian is wronged, he must "believe": believe in his innocence and the Lord’s righteousness, then wait patiently for the truth to be revealed.                                                                                                                                                                                                                        (more next week) 

                                                                                           忍耐

        忍耐是一段難受的過渡時期;就如新冠防疫期間,大家都需要忍耐一樣。這段過渡時期之難受程度,就看時間有多長,磨難有多深。談到磨難,就有環境壓力、思想矛盾、情緒反覆不安等因素。如果再加上要遙遙無期地等待的話,這段時期會令人忍無可忍。難怪中國人對「忍」的理解是「心」頭上插了一把「刀」。中國人對「忍」的認識也相當正面:如「百忍成金」、「小不忍則亂大謀」等。可見忍耐不是一件容易的事,但又是人人必須操練的美德和處事策略。

         我們來探討以下四種,神叫我們忍耐的情況,揣摩忍耐的智慧。

          一、含冤受屈         啟示錄 6:9-11

                 9揭開第五印的時候,我看見在祭壇底下,有爲神的道、並爲作見證被殺之人的靈魂,10大聲喊著說:「聖潔真實的主啊,你不審判住在地上的人,給我們伸流血的冤,要等到幾時呢?」11於是有白衣賜給他們各人;又有話對他們說,還要安息片時,等著一同作僕人的和他們的弟兄也像他們被殺,滿足了數目。

        含冤受屈的人最大的痛苦,是他們的無辜無人理會,冤屈欲訴無門。要含冤受屈的人忍耐等候,乃是極度痛苦的事;因爲他們相信自己無辜,爲他們伸冤是他們應得的權利;等待對他們而言是另加的煎熬。爲此,主給他們做了兩件事:一、確認他們的清白無辜(賜給他們白衣)。二、曉諭他們必須用信心接受的理由。(原來他們要忍耐等候,是爲了讓更多的弟兄受屈,滿足數目!這不是個容易明白的道理。)

        這樣,基督徒含冤受屈的時候,無需爲自己的無辜悲憤,或自怨自艾,反而要以自己的無辜爲爲安慰;因爲主無所不知,祂絕不會以有罪的爲無罪,更不會以無罪的爲有罪。而伸冤的時刻遲遲未來,並非主遲延,乃是有一個超越個人、不易明白、有待揭曉的原因。總而言之,基督徒若含冤受屈,就要「信」:信自己清白、信主乃公義。然後忍耐,等候昭雪。