The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.
Amazing Grace by John Newton verse 6
“The sun forbear to shine.” Forbear is the root of forbearance but not a common word today. The Internet defines it as the ability to refrain oneself, holdback, or be tolerant in the face of opposition. As the earth comes to its end, the sun will “politely refrain” from shining. I get the feeling of the sun working with God, respecting the process that is happening at the end of time. Perhaps it is a sense of working with and not working against.
So where do we show forbearance? It seems to me it is within a loving relationship. Perhaps I empathize when someone makes a mistake and resist the temptation to say, “I told you so,” because I love the other. I refrain from the lecture when the other is late for an appointment. It may even be forbearance when I don’t harp on a debt someone is unable to pay. Forbearance is a different ethos than vengeance as the world comes to an end.
Amazing Grace implies that we will experience God’s forbearance at the end of time. To me it means God will not drag out all my sins and remind me of my failures. God will greet us with love and not a lecture. That is an interesting flavor for end times. How do I know this is true? Easter. Jesus returned to comfort his followers who were scared. He opened Scripture to those confused on the road to Emmaus. He helped Peter come clean about his betrayal and then asked Peter to feed his sheep. Jesus lives and that is amazing grace. Let’s thank God for his forbearance today.