by Steven Chan
In an increasingly globally connected world that we live in, one expects to have whatever one wants as quickly as possible. When the things we are expecting are somehow delayed, we become frustrated and upset. So in spite of all the “speedy and quick” things that we have today, we are an increasingly frustrated and dissatisfied people.
On his return from visiting Australia recently, Bro Allen Tan shared with me how the Chinese immigrants during the Gold Rush of 1850s-1860s had wanted to land in Victoria, Australia so that they could mine gold in Bendigo/Ballarat but they were not able to land because the authorities discouraged their arrival and wanted to charge them landing fees which they could not afford to pay. So, these poor immigrants landed in Port Adelaide as well as in Robe, South Australia (where sis Lily Tan’s brother, Don now operates a thriving Malaysian Chinese restaurant) and then walked for many months to reach the gold mines in Bendigo/Ballarat. The hope of digging for gold kept them going even though it took months to walk through unknown terrains and various challenges. They were not discouraged because they clung to their hope of being able to dig for gold in Bendigo/Ballarat.
Today, we can travel from Robe to Bendigo within a day or two. Yet, some may not want to make the trip, complaining that it is a long journey! The reason is because we don’t share the same hope of digging for gold as the early Chinese immigrants. The latter didn’t mind the wait and were willing to persist because they held on to their hope of digging for gold in Bendigo/Ballarat.
The Bible says to us in Lam 3:26: “It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.” Jesus promised us in John 14:1-3: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” He promised us that He will come again to receive us so that we may in heaven together with Him. This was also affirmed in Heb 9:28: “Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
The challenge for us today is whether we really treasure this hope as promised by Jesus? If we really value this hope then we will not be easily discouraged by whatever problems that may befall us: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”(2 Cor 4:17). Sure, we will have “afflictions” in this life. But will we allow these “afflictions” to rob us of our hope? In comparison to the hope that awaits us, the Bible describes our afflictions in this life as “light” and “momentary”.
There will be trials and temptations in this life. Shall we give up our hope and yield to these trials and temptations? The Bible says to us in James 1:12: “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” In the face of trials and temptations, if we wish to receive our hope of “the crown of life” then we must endure such trials and temptations – just like the Chinese immigrants endured the hardship and rugged terrains. The difference is that during such challenging situations, God does not abandon us to our own devices. God promised us that He will provide a way of escape so that we may bear them: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”(1 Cor 10:12-13)
Our problem today is whether we have the patience and perseverance to stay the course? We are so used to having things quickly and speedily. Can we wait patiently for the promise of God? Let’s be reminded by what Moses said to the people of Israel when He led them out of Egypt towards the promised land of Canaan as recorded in Deut 8:16: “God fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end.” It is God’s stated intent that He will “do you good in the end”. But will we stay the course of the Christian life so that we may receive the promise of God “in the end”?
Listen to the exhortation of the Bible as stated in Heb 10:32-36:
“But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: 33 partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; 34 for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. 35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise”
Will you make the all the necessary efforts to maintain your spiritual stamina such as:
- “daily feeding on the word of God” to strengthen our faith in the hope offered by God (Matt 4:4);
- “praying at all times to God for His grace to help in time of need” so that we do not fall and thereby lose our hope (Heb 4:16; 1 Thess 5:17);
- “making every effort to attend every assembly of the brethren so that we may encourage our fellow brethren and be encouraged by them to keep the hope (Heb 10:24-25);
- make every effort to “preach the gospel” to world at large so that they may also have the same hope (Matt 28:18-20; Acts 8:4; I Cor 9:16) and
- do good to all so that they may glorify our Father in heaven (Matt 5:16; Gal 6:10; Titus 3:14).
Or, will you allow the “light afflictions” of “traffic jams”, “over-time work”, “tuition classes”, “tiredness”, “household chores” or “inconvenience” stop you from being with brethren of like-mindedness such as attending Friday Bible Classes and Sunday worship services? The Bible reminds us in Heb 12:4: “You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.” Have you allowed yourself to be discouraged and put at risk the hope of salvation?
Will you hope and wait patiently for the salvation of the Lord?