Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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葡萄樹傳媒

應對每天生命中的陰影──COPING WITH THE SHADOWS OF DAILY LIFE

作為一名保險經紀人,我比大多數人更常接觸到死亡。在COVID-19疫情高峰期間,我有4位客戶不幸染疫去世,另外還有12位客戶因其他各種疾病而離世。有些人是突然去世,而其他人則長期受到病痛的折磨後離去。

面對死亡那不祥的陰影,從來都不容易。聖經詩篇23篇常在追悼會上被引用,這是大衛所寫的詩。我在年幼時就記住了這6節詩,並在過去的68年中,發現它們非常鼓舞人心,尤其是在面對逆境時,特別是在這首短詩的第4節中,所描述的「死蔭的幽谷」。

以下是該節經文的完整內容:「我雖然行過死蔭的幽谷,也不怕遭害,因為你與我同在;你的杖、你的竿,都安慰我。」這詩篇描繪了好牧人耶穌,祂不允許跟隨祂的羊,受到惡者撒旦的傷害。

對於基督徒來說,我們被確保「死蔭」只是個陰影,它真的僅僅是一個陰影而已。當我還是個年幼的孩子時,常常害怕陰影,但隨著年齡增長,我克服了對黑暗的恐懼,意識到陰影是無法傷害我們,陰影是無害的。而這在職場和生命的每個範疇也是如此。

陰影不過是沒有光的地方,以下是使徒約翰在約翰福音第一章1-5節中所宣稱的:「太初有道,道與神同在,道就是神。這道太初與神同在。萬物是藉著他造的;凡被造的,沒有一樣不是藉著他造的。生命在他裡頭,這生命就是人的光。光照在黑暗裡,黑暗卻不接受光。

自從亞當和夏娃在伊甸園吃了禁果以來,這個世界就一直存在著黑暗。這黑暗將持續存在,直到耶穌得勝再來的時候。與此同時,我們必須面對某些滲透到我們生命中的陰影。但是,它們所產生的黑暗並不足以懼怕。在過去,我曾經經歷極其黑暗的時刻,但從未失去上帝會引領我渡過死蔭幽谷的信心。或許你也可以透過自己的經歷,領悟與認同。

我們靈界的仇敵,試圖以各種方式讓我們失去希望。然而,在某些方面,這些黑暗時刻成為了一個考驗我們,以及更接近上帝和祂的光的機會。而這光必將消除一切的黑暗。正如雅各書1章2-3節所敦促的:「我的弟兄們,你們落在百般試煉中,都要以為大喜樂;因為知道你們的信心經過試驗,就生忍耐。

有些人不斷地,持續在黑暗中,掙扎於控制著人的罪和成癮的問題。然而,我們大多數人只偶爾會經歷最黑暗的時刻。但即使黑暗的時間很短暫,卻也可能讓我們感到失去所有的希望。在詩篇23篇最後一節提到:「我的一生一世必有恩惠慈愛隨著我;我且要住在耶和華的殿中,直到永遠。」我用了40年的時間才明白,那是上帝希望帶我去的地方。我現在欣然地宣告,我的意願是我在世上的餘生中,要永遠留在祂永恆的臂膀中。

如果你想要留在光明之中,你必須接受耶穌進入你的心,並請求祂完全改造你,使你成為天國的特別兒女 ─ 將你從黑暗帶到光明之中。


Jim Langley擔任人壽和健康保險經紀人期間已有30多年,他的寫作經歷也是。近年來,他的熱情轉向寫下他與神的個人關係。他的目標是鼓勵其他人來親近神。他是CBMC的長期會員,在2014年開始撰寫「比賽最後四分之一場戰略」。

備註:如果你手上有聖經,想閱讀更多相關的內容,請參考下面的經文: (因篇幅有限,請查閱未列出的經文:以賽亞書40:28-31、約翰福音10:1-6、約翰福音11:25-26)

詩篇23篇1-6節
23:1 (大衛的詩)耶和華是我的牧者,我必不至缺乏。
23:2  他使我躺臥在青草地上,領我在可安歇的水邊。
23:3  他使我的靈魂甦醒,為自己的名引導我走義路。
23:4  我雖然行過死蔭的幽谷,也不怕遭害,因為你與我同在;你的杖,你的竿,都安慰我。
23:5  在我敵人面前,你為我擺設筵席;你用油膏了我的頭,使我的福杯滿溢。
23:6  我一生一世必有恩惠慈愛隨著我;我且要住在耶和華的殿中,直到永遠。
約翰福音10章7-15節
10:7  所以,耶穌又對他們說:「我實實在在的告訴你們,我就是羊的門。
10:8  凡在我以先來的都是賊,是強盜;羊卻不聽他們。
10:9  我就是門;凡從我進來的,必然得救,並且出入得草吃。
10:10盜賊來,無非要偷竊,殺害,毀壞;我來了,是要叫羊(或作:人)得生命,並且得的更豐盛。
10:11 我是好牧人;好牧人為羊捨命。
10:12 若是雇工,不是牧人,羊也不是他自己的,他看見狼來,就撇下羊逃走;狼抓住羊,趕散了羊群。
10:13雇工逃走,因他是雇工,並不顧念羊。
10:14我是好牧人;我認識我的羊,我的羊也認識我,
10:15正如父認識我,我也認識父一樣;並且我為羊捨命。
約翰一書1章5-7節
1:5神就是光,在他毫無黑暗。這是我們從主所聽見、又報給你們的信息。
1:6 我們若說是與神相交,卻仍在黑暗裡行,就是說謊話,不行真理了。
1:7我們若在光明中行,如同神在光明中,就彼此相交,他兒子耶穌的血也洗淨我們一切的罪。

反省與問題討論

  1. 你有多常想到死亡?死亡是否讓你感到害怕?那麼對於「死蔭幽谷」這個未知的危險處所,你的感覺呢?你又是如何應對自己生命中黑暗時刻的呢?
  2. 詩篇23篇中描述,牧羊人引導羊群穿越那些黑暗、陰影籠罩的山谷。你是否有時感到自己像羊群中的一隻,膽小且無防禦能力,希望有一位關愛的牧羊人在身旁確保你的安全呢?請解釋你的答案。
  3. 你現在正在面臨哪些黑暗的境況 ?或近期曾經面對的困境?當這些情況出現時,你通常是如何應對? 無論是在工作中還是自我生命中,對於處理試煉和逆境,你的「預設模式」是什麼呢?
  4. 詩篇23篇的最後一節宣告:「我一生一世必有恩惠慈愛隨著我;我且要住在耶和華的殿中,直到永遠。」對於你而言?你是否對上帝的愛和保護,有堅定確信的盼望呢?如果有的話,是否可以描述這對你意味著什麼?


COPING WITH THE SHADOWS OF DAILY LIFE

By Jim Langley

As an insurance agent, I deal with death more than most. At the height of COVID-19, four of my clients have succumbed to the virus and 12 clients have died from various other diseases. Some died unexpectedly while others had suffered from lingering illnesses.

Confronting death’s ominous shadow is never easy. A Bible passage often used at memorial services is Psalm 23, a psalm of David. I first memorized those six verses as a young boy and have found them wonderfully encouraging over the past 68 years as I have faced adversity – especially confronting the “valley of the shadow of death” described in the fourth verse of the short psalm.

Here’s the verse in its entirety. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” This psalm presents the good shepherd, Jesus, who will not allow those sheep that follow Him to be harmed by Satan, the Evil One.

For those who follow Jesus Christ, we are assured the “shadow of death” is only that – merely a shadow. As a young boy, I was often fearful of shadows, but outgrew my fear of the dark, realizing shadows cannot hurt us – shadows are harmless. This is true in the marketplace, as well as every other area of life.

Shadows are nothing more than the absence of light. Here’s what the apostle John asserts in John 1:1-5: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him, all things were made, without him nothing was made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”

There’s been darkness in this world ever since Adam and Eve ate of that forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. That darkness will remain until Jesus triumphantly returns. In the meantime, we must face certain shadows as they infiltrate our lives. But that is no reason to fear the darkness they seem to create. I have faced extremely dark moments in my past, but I never lost the assurance that God would see me through the valley of the shadow of death. Perhaps you can relate through your own experiences.

Our spiritual enemy will try many ways that could cause us to lose hope. However, in some ways, those dark moments become a test and an opportunity to draw nearer to God and His Light, which will certainly remove all darkness. As James 1:2-3 urges, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”

Some constantly remain in darkness as they wrestle with controlling sins and addictions. Most of us, however, only occasionally experience the darkest moments. But even a short time in the throes of darkness can cause us to feel we have lost all hope. The final verse in Psalm 23 says. “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” It took me 40 years to realize that’s where God wanted me to be. I now gladly proclaim my intent to remain in His everlasting, protective arms for the rest of my days here on earth.

If you want to remain in the light, you too must receive Jesus into your heart and ask Him to do a total makeover, changing you into a very special child of the King – taking you from darkness to light.

© 2023, all rights reserved. Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his relationship with God. His goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. A long-time member of CBMC, he started writing “Fourth Quarter Strategies” in 2014.

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  1. How often do you think of death? Does its prospect frighten you? What about the “valley of the shadow of death,” where unknown dangers seem to lurk – how do you cope with those times of darkness in your own life?
  2. Psalm 23 speaks about a shepherd guiding his sheep through dark, shadowy valleys. Do you ever feel like one of those sheep, timid and defenseless, wishing you had a caring shepherd nearby to guide you to safety? Explain your answer.
  3. What are some dark valleys you are facing right now, or some that you have had to confront in the recent past? How do you typically respond when such circumstances arise – what is your “default setting” for dealing with trials and adversity, whether at work or in your private life?
  4. The last verse of Psalm 23 declares, “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Do you have this hope, such confident assurance of God’s love and protection? If so, describe what this means for you.

NOTE: For more about what the Bible says about this topic, consider the following passages:

Psalm 23:1-6; Isaiah 40:28-31; John 10:1-15, 11:25-26; 1 John 1:5-7



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