By Not Known
Today is the last of the 15-day Lunar New Year celebrations. Festive decorations and dining cutlery will be stored away afterward, perhaps to be re-used next year. Empty drink cans and bottles will be sent for recycling, only to find their ways back into our fridges again. “Masks” of cordiality that have shielded dislikes and disagreements between relatives will also be hidden in the closet until the next family gathering. It is amusing how so many things and even feelings are recycled for better and for worse. One wonders what is truly new. Happy NEW Year!
Fortunately, the Bible tells us that there will be a time when this recycling movement will end definitely. “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away…I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:3-5) But for now, people will die, many will grieve, and there will be sufferings all around us with the crossing of every new year.
Nonetheless, Christian people can always live in newness of life not only in the future, but also in the present because of what God has done in the past. In Jesus, God has demonstrated his power and authority over diseases and death. Jairus recognises this in his earnest plea, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” (Mark 5:23) In Jesus, God has also demonstrated his charity and compassion to alleviate suffering. The secret desire of the haemorrhagic woman reveals this – “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed. Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.” (Mk 5:28-29) In Jesus, we have indeed had a glimpse of what that new future will be like through what he did. How about the present?
Our daily newspapers really offer nothing new under the sun. Since when was there a time when there were no wars, no disasters, no diseases, no hunger and quarrels, no crimes, no adultery… Yet, Christians can live to the future in view of the past amidst the present chaos by holding on to the following truths:
(1) Suffering in the broadest sense is a reminder of the reality of sin – we are sinners;
(2) Sin invites the certainty of God’s judgement – we are all under judgement;
(3) Judgement warns of our need for salvation – we all need Jesus;
(4) Jesus paid the penalty for our sins and showed forth the reality of a new world without suffering – Christians are God’s new creation today (2 Corinthians 5:17);
(5) Christians are to suffer well in the present because we know for sure that the foretaste of God’s new world in Jesus will come to its fullness when he is revealed again in the future.
Tired of recycling suffering and pain? There is hope of real newness of life in Christ today and everyday. Happy New Year!