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新冠肺炎疫情蔓延至今，全球已有大量染病及死亡的個案，數字超越我們所能想像。兩週前世界衛生組織根據發現的次序，以希臘字母來稱呼各地的變種病毒，例如英國變種的被稱為 Alpha，南非變種的是 Beta，未來陸續出現的變種病毒也會繼續依序命名，直到字母用完為止。面對沒完沒了的疫情，我們苦無對策，內心累積了許多惶恐的情緒。這樣下去，我們難免會向神呼喊：「這要到幾時呢？」而那些沒有信仰的人，也會向我們提出疑問：「你們所信的神，真是一位憐愛世人的神嗎？」
聖經論到神的揀選與救贖，是源於祂對世人的憐愛（申七 7；約三 16）。我們既要用信心回應祂的揀選；也須以敬畏的態度，思量祂奇妙的救贖。在摩西的頌歌裡，神是一位降下十災、分開紅海及帥領以色列人出埃及進迦南美地的神，這使我們認識到：陷在為奴之地的人，神能將他們從埃及强權勢中釋放出來；祂又會因列國行惡，施行審判及顯出祂的公義（參出十五 1-19；申七 18-19，九 3-5）。耶利米的哀歌指出，以色列人雖然失去黄金般的珍貴身分，淪為廉價的瓦瓶（哀四 1-2），但神仍然定意為他們安排「得平安」的計劃，要賜給他們美好的前程和盼望（耶十二九 11，新譯本）。因此，耶利米雖然經歷耶路撒冷城被圍攻、遭擄掠，但他仍以信心宣告說：「耶和華的慈愛永不斷絕，他的憐憫永不止息。……主必不會永遠丟棄人。他雖然使人憂愁，卻必照著他豐盛的慈愛施憐憫。」（哀三 22、31-32）
我們力竭聲嘶的呼喊和疑問，正好反映了我們面對苦難與死亡的時候，是多麼的乏力無助。為此，傳道者呼籲我們留意，往「服喪之家」者的智慧，勝於那些前往「宴樂之家」者的愚昧（傳七 2-6）。是的，即使屬神的子民也不能逃離忽然臨到的災禍，但當中的不解與疑惑，卻提醒了我們無人能夠掌控生命、保管擁有的財富或資源。今天我們不僅要認清基督徒在世寄居的身分，更須抓緊基督信仰的恩典，向世人述說我們「蒙揀選、得憐憫」的見證（彼前一 17，二 9-10）。親愛的弟兄姊妹，在患難及死亡的恐懼中，願我們更能看見神向我們守約施慈愛的作為，當主真實活潑地臨到的時候，我們不但能因為信心保存生命，更能得著祂的喜悅（來十 38-39）。
God Cares about What We Do
Rev Samuel Tam
Unbelievable numbers of infection cases and deaths have been reported worldwide ever since COVID-19 hit. Two weeks ago, the World Health Organization started to assign Greek alphabets as names to variants in the order they are discovered. The United Kingdom variant was called Alpha and the South African variant Beta, and so forth. In the face of the never-ending pandemic, our hands are tied. Anxiety grows. Many cannot help but ask God: When will it end? Meanwhile, non-believers may also ask: Does your God really love and care about the world?
The Bible mentions that God's election and redemption are both rooted in His love for the world (Deuteronomy 7:7, John 3:16). We respond to His election by faith. We ponder His wondrous redemption with fear. In the songs of Moses, God is the One who handed down the ten plagues of Egypt, parted the Red Sea and led the Israelites out of Egypt and into the beautiful land of Canaan. This conveys a clear message that God can set the captives free from the violence and strong powers of Egypt. And since the nations do evil, God hands down judgment to reveal His righteousness (see Exodus 15:1-19; Deuteronomy 7:18-19, 9:3-5). The Lamentations describes how the Israelites lost their high status just like gold losing its luster and was considered as pots of clay (Lamentations 4:1-2). Still, God was determined to make them plans of "peace" (KJV) - plans to give them hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). Therefore, despite the fact that Jerusalem was besieged and plundered, Jeremiah still proclaimed by faith: "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail…. For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love" (Lamentations 3:22, 31-32).
Our doubts and cries reveal our frailty and helplessness amid adversity and death. The Teacher thus called for our attention: It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure (Ecclesiastes 7:2-6). It is true that disaster befalls everyone including the children of God. Amid the disaster are a lot of doubts and things we do not understand. But isn't it true that these things remind us that no one is in control of his life, that no one can really keep the wealth and resources in his possession? As Christians, we need to affirm our identity as foreigners on earth. We need to grasp the blessings of our faith to proclaim to the world our testimony of a chosen people who have received the mercy of God (1 Peter 1:17, 2:9-10). Dear brothers and sisters, amid the fear of adversity and death, may we be better able to distinguish God’s acts of faithfulness and lovingkindness. When the Lord truly comes, may we not only be able to live by faith but also be pleased with Him (Hebrews 10:38-39).