當你覺得孤單就尋求協助

By: Robert D. Foster

幾年前有一次我在凌晨兩點醒來,覺得孤單的浪潮湧向我。我第一次有這樣的體驗和情緒。我結褵53年的妻子瑪莉安因為艾茲海默的併發症在醫院裡正面臨垂死邊緣。詩篇的作者表達出我的感受:

我如同曠野的鵜鶘;我好像荒場的鴞鳥(貓頭鷹)。我警醒不睡;我像房頂上孤單的麻雀」(詩篇102篇6-7節)。

我 覺得孤獨,離朋友很遠,被空虛與失落感吞噬。正如有人曾說:「孤單是英文中最荒涼的詞彙,這絕不是毫無理由的。」光是它的發音就發出荒涼的回音。喝著一杯 咖啡,我坐在黑暗的書房裡。就在那裡,每個早晨的安靜時間,我常常享受與上帝在一起的時刻。然而這一次似乎不一樣。我覺得完全孤單,與所有的關係都隔絕 了。

孤單與獨處有一個重要的區別:孤單是非自願的,是自己不想要的。而獨處是自願的,且是刻意選擇的。孤單總是負面的,獨處常是正面且更新的。孤單帶來沮喪的感覺,獨處常帶來啟發和激勵。詩篇102篇就強調這個區別:

例如,一隻憂鬱的鵜鶘在曠野裡做什麼?它的棲息地靠近海洋,它應該在海邊享受清新的浪花。 孤獨的鴞鳥在荒場做什麼?這種夜行的鳥喜愛森林和樹木,或棲息在電線桿上估量著獵物。 那只失魂落魄的麻雀在屋頂上做什麼?這種我們很熟悉的鳥類非常喜歡群聚在一起。只要有人和建築物的地方,我們就可看到這種群集的鳥類。它是否失去伴侶?它生病了嗎?或者它的群體不要它了?這三種鳥被描述離開它們的棲息地,它們熟悉的環境,所以它們一定經歷到分離和孤單的難受感覺。

在聖經中我們也看到人的例子。有些人雖然獨自一人,但卻不孤單:雅各與上帝摔跤;約瑟在洞裡和監獄中;摩西在曠野;以利亞在迦密山;約伯在爐灰中;約拿在魚肚裡;耶利米在水井底下;耶穌獨自在髑髏地。最深刻的孤單話語是當耶穌問祂的父親:「我的神!我的神!為什麼離棄我?」(馬太福音27章46節)。

詩篇73篇的作者是亞薩,他是大衛王的詩班班長和詩歌作者。他形容當生命如此不公平時,自己精神上的掙扎。他也寫到自己的不滿和信心的危機。在我受孤單之苦的那幾年,這首詩篇帶給我安慰。它提供了以下的應許:

上帝的同在:然而,我常與你同在;你攙著我的右手」(詩篇73篇23節)。 上帝的保護:你要以你的訓言引導我」(詩篇73篇24節)。 上帝自己:除你以外,在地上我也沒有所愛慕的」(詩篇73篇25節)。
可能你目前正經歷深刻的孤單,不論在工作或家中。你可能覺得漂流失所或被拋棄。沒有一個朋友來支持你。在這種時刻,請記得上帝給祂子女的應許:「我總不撇下你,也不丟棄你」(希伯來書13章5節)。

本文改編自「週一早晨觀點」,這是一系列由羅勃.符思特以電子郵件發出的默想文章。他不收費,鼓勵人們複製,只要註明出處即可。若有任何問題或評論,請寫信到29555 Goose Creek Rd, Sedalia, CO 80135, U.S.A.或傳真 (303) 647-2315。

思想 / 討論題目

你是否經歷過類似本文作者那樣強烈的孤單感?若是,那是什麼樣的情況? 我們有時都要忍受某種程度的孤單,即使那可能不像本文作者所描述的那麼嚴重。你一向都如何處理孤單的時刻? 你是否瞭解鵜鶘在曠野,鴞鳥在荒場或一隻麻雀在屋頂上的諷刺性?它們都出現在不屬於它們的地方。那種發覺自己不得其所與孤單有何關係?這種情形曾發生在你身上嗎? 不論你在辦公室或在遙遠的城市出差,若你知道不論在哪裡,上帝總是在那裡,這能帶給你什麼安慰?請解釋。 註:若你有聖經且想要看有關此主題的其他經文,請看:
創世記3章8-24節,12章1-20節,39章6-23節;出埃及記2章11-22節;以賽亞書41章10節;馬太福音18章20節


FINDING HELP WHEN YOU ARE FEELING LONELY
By: Robert D. Foster

Several years ago I awoke at 2 a.m. with waves of loneliness sweeping over me. This was a new experience and emotion for me. Marion, my wife of 53 years, was dying in a hospital with complications from Alzheimer’s disease. An ancient writer expresses my "furnace blast" in the Psalms:

"I am like a pelican in the wilderness; I am like an owl in the desert;I lie awake and am like a sparrow alone on the housetop" (Psalm 102: 6, 7).

I felt isolated, distant from friends, consumed with emptiness and loss. As someone has said, "It is not without reason that 『loneliness』 has been termed the most desolate word in the English language. Its very sound seems to echo its own desolation." Clinging to a cup of coffee, I sat in the darkness of my study where usually I enjoyed solitude with God during my morning quiet time. This time, however, seemed different. I felt utterly alone, unplugged from any and all relationships.

There is an important distinction: Loneliness is involuntary, unwanted. Solitude is voluntary and deliberately chosen. Loneliness is always negative – solitude is positive and renewing. Loneliness brings feelings of depression. Solitude often brings inspiration. Psalm 102 emphasizes this difference:
For instance, what is a melancholy pelican doing in the wilderness? It belongs near the ocean, enjoying the refreshing spray of water. What is a desolate owl doing in the desert? This nocturnal bird loves trees and the forest, or perching atop a telephone pole to size up its prey. And what is the bereaved sparrow doing on the roof of the house? This familiar, feathered bird is very communal. Wherever there are people or buildings, we find this gregarious creature. Had he lost his mate? Was he sick? Or not wanted by the flock?All three birds are depicted out of their habitat, their accustomed environment. It would have been understandable for each of them to experience unbearable feelings of separation, of loneliness.

We see human examples in the Scriptures as well, of individuals that were alone, yet not all alone: Jacob wrestling with God; Joseph in the pit and in prison; Moses on the back side of the desert; Elijah on Mt. Carmel; Job on his pile of ashes; Jonah in the belly of the fish; Jeremiah at the bottom of a cistern; Jesus alone at Calvary. The most profound statement of loneliness was uttered by Jesus when He asked of His Father, 「Why have You forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46).

In Psalm 73 Asaph, the songwriter and choir leader for King David, described his own mental struggle when life seemed so unfair. He wrote in response to his own disappointments and crisis of faith. This psalm offered me comfort during my affliction with loneliness years ago. It offers these promises:
God’s Presence: "Yet I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand" (Psalm 73:23). God’s Protection: "You guide me" (Psalm 73:24). God’s Person: "…earth has nothing I desire besides You?" (Psalm 73:25).Perhaps you are now experiencing a time of deep loneliness, in your job or in your home. You might feel adrift or abandoned, without a single friend to provide support. At times like this, remember the promise God gives to His children: "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5).

Taken and adapted from Take Three on Monday Morning, an e-mail meditation published by Robert D. Foster. Permission to reproduce with proper credit is freely given and encouraged. For questions or comments, write: 29555 Goose Creek Rd, Sedalia, CO 80135, U.S.A., or fax (303) 647-2315.

Reflection/Discussion Questions
Have you ever experienced a time of intense loneliness similar to what Mr. Foster describes? If so, what were the circumstances? We all endure some degree of loneliness at one time or another, even if it may not feel as acute as what the writer of today』s 「Monday Manna」 describes. How do you typically deal with periods of loneliness? Did you grasp the irony of discovering a pelican in the wilderness, an owl in the desert, or a sparrow on a rooftop? All find themselves where they do not belong. How does awareness of being 「out of place」 contribute to experiences of feeling lonely? Has that ever happened to you? What consolation does it offer to you – if any – to know that even during times when you feel the most lonely, even at your office or in a distant city on a business trip, you can always find God there? Explain your answer.NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to review some other passages that relate to this topic, consider the following verses:Genesis 3:8-24, 12:1-20, 39:6-23; Exodus 2:11-22; Isaiah 41:10; Matthew 18:20

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