在患難中仍然感恩──GIVING THANKS EVEN IN TIMES OF ADVERSITY

MONDAY MANNA

我們又來到一年一度,在某些國家慶祝感恩節的日子了。雖然沒有必要設立一個放假日來感恩,但我們有時候很需要這樣的提醒。尤其是在經歷這麼多種形式逆境的今年,我們更有這個必要。也難怪有些人會疑問,「感恩?還有什麼好感恩的?」

毫無疑問的,全球性新冠肺炎的大流行用不同的方式影響了我們每個人。有些人自己感染了病毒,有些人失去了摯愛的親人。幾乎每個人都感受到強制性停工對經濟造成的影響:失業、裁員,或是利潤和收入下降。

結果,造成我們在需要感恩的季節,卻發現自己很難感恩。這讓我想起了我的朋友亞伯特,他的人生幾乎是一場厄運跟著另一場逆境:在二次大戰期間出生,成長於戰後荷蘭,持續經歷病痛與疾病,成年後作為企業家,他也必須克服許多挑戰。

有些人面對上述的重大挫折時,可能會想要對上帝拳頭相向。但是,亞伯特回顧自己的人生時,充滿真摯的感恩。他甚至寫了一本小冊子:《即使不感到感恩,也要說「謝謝」》。亞伯特在書中敘述了他和家人所經受的各種辛苦,也寫下上帝如何使用這些困難時期轉化他的生命,更提供許多他從未想過的機會,使他充滿喜樂和深刻的滿足。

在患難中感恩有甚麼秘訣?幾年前,我的另一個朋友觀察到:「當塵埃落定後,只有兩件事物會留到最後:上帝的話,和人。」我們有聖經中上帝給我們超越時空的真理,以及我們在世上的日子,會造成永恆影響所接觸到的人們。如果我們把這些作為生命的重點,無論遇到什麼好或壞的狀況,我們都能心存感激。

簡而言之,以下是聖經中關於感恩的有用原則:

感恩是持續不斷的。我們不用暫停手邊的工作,也不用預留特殊時間來表示感謝。感恩應該是心中持續保有的態度。「要常常喜樂,不住地禱告,凡事謝恩;因為這是 神在基督耶穌裏向你們所定的旨意。」(帖撒羅尼迦前書5章16-18節)

感恩是充滿期待的。即使在逆境中,對上帝的信任也能讓我們充滿信心地相信,祂會利用環境使自己以及我們最終受益。「我們曉得萬事都互相效力,叫愛 神的人得益處,就是按他旨意被召的人。」(羅馬書8章28節)「凡事要奉我們主耶穌基督的名常常感謝父 神。」(以弗所書5章20節)

感恩是回應上帝的愛。將感謝獻給主的意思是感謝祂為我們所做的一切,明白雖然我們不配得到祂的愛、恩典和憐憫,祂仍然無條件地將這些賜給我們,包含今生物質的祝福。「我們要來感謝他,用詩歌向他歡呼!」(詩篇95篇2節)「當稱謝進入他的門;當讚美進入他的院。當感謝他,稱頌他的名!」(詩篇100篇4節)。

© 2020. Robert J. Tamasy 是企業巔峰: 給今日職場從箴言而來永恆的智慧 一書的作者。也與導師之的作者David A. Stoddard 合著Tufting Legacies。編輯多本著作包括Mike Landry. Bob的書: 透過苦 難成長。Mike Landry. Bob的網站為www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com

反省與問題討論

  1. 當你聽到「感恩」這個詞,你會想到什麼?你覺得自己容易向他人(甚至是上帝)表達謝意嗎?請解釋你的答案。
  2. 如果用1(低)至10(高)的等級來評價你個人現在的感恩程度,你會給自己幾分?為什麼?
  3. 即便過去一年經歷許多困難,你可否仍然舉出過去一年中兩三件感恩的事情?
  4. 你真的相信聖經的應許:萬事互相效力,叫愛神的人得益處嗎?你如何用自己的話來解釋這則應許?

備註:如果你手上有聖經,想要閱讀更多相關的經文,請參考以下的內容:

詩篇50篇14-15節
50:14 你們要以感謝為祭獻與 神,又要向至高者還你的願,
50:15 並要在患難之日求告我;我必搭救你,你也要榮耀我。
詩篇100篇1-5節
100:1 普天下當向耶和華歡呼!
100:2 你們當樂意事奉耶和華,當來向他歌唱!
100:3 你們當曉得耶和華是 神!我們是他造的,也是屬他的;我們是他的民,也是他草場的羊。
100:4 當稱謝進入他的門;當讚美進入他的院。當感謝他,稱頌他的名!
100:5 因為耶和華本為善。他的慈愛存到永遠;他的信實直到萬代。
詩篇107篇1-9節
107:1 你們要稱謝耶和華,因他本為善;他的慈愛永遠長存!
107:2 願耶和華的贖民說這話,就是他從敵人手中所救贖的,
107:3 從各地,從東從西,從南從北,所招聚來的。
107:4 他們在曠野荒地漂流,尋不見可住的城邑,
107:5 又飢又渴,心裏發昏。
107:6 於是,他們在苦難中哀求耶和華;他從他們的禍患中搭救他們,
107:7 又領他們行走直路,使他們往可居住的城邑。
107:8 但願人因耶和華的慈愛和他向人所行的奇事都稱讚他;
107:9 因他使心裏渴慕的人得以知足,使心裏飢餓的人得飽美物。
詩篇107篇19-22節
107:19 於是,他們在苦難中哀求耶和華;他從他們的禍患中拯救他們。
107:20 他發命醫治他們,救他們脫離死亡。
107:21 但願人因耶和華的慈愛和他向人所行的奇事都稱讚他。
107:22 願他們以感謝為祭獻給他,歡呼述說他的作為!
腓立比書4章6節
4:6 應當一無掛慮,只要凡事藉著禱告、祈求,和感謝,將你們所要的告訴 神。
歌羅西書4章2節
4:2 你們要恆切禱告,在此警醒感恩。
提摩太前書4章4-5節
4:4 凡 神所造的物都是好的,若感謝著領受,就沒有一樣可棄的,
4:5 都因 神的道和人的祈求成為聖潔了。


GIVING THANKS EVEN IN TIMES OF ADVERSITY

By Robert J. Tamasy

Once again we enter the time of year when in some countries, special thanksgiving observances take place. Even though it does not require an official holiday to be thankful, sometimes we need a reminder. Especially during a year like the one we all have been experiencing, with adversity coming in many forms. No doubt some people are wondering, “Giving thanks? For what?”

Without question, the global coronavirus pandemic has affected each of us in different ways. Some have suffered from the virus personally, others have lost loved ones. Virtually everyone has felt the economic impact of mandated shutdowns, whether through lost jobs, layoffs, or decreased profits and revenues.

As a result, we might find ourselves challenged, at a time designated for thanksgiving, to feel thankful. And yet, I am reminded of my friend Albert, whose life has been marked by one form of adversity after another: Growing up as a child in the Netherlands during World War II; illness and disease; then many challenges he had to overcome as an entrepreneur.

Some might respond to serious setbacks like these by shaking their fists at God. Instead, Albert looks back on his life with genuine gratitude. He even wrote a booklet called, “Saying ‘Thank You’ Even When You Don’t Feel Thankful.” In it Albert recounts not only the hardships he and his family had to endure, but also the many ways the Lord used those difficult times to transform his life, presenting opportunities he could never have imagined, and filling it with joy and a profound sense of fulfillment.

What is the secret? Years ago, another friend often observed, “When it is all said and done, only two things will remain: the Word of God, and people.” We have the enduring, timeless truths God has given to us through the Scriptures. And then there are the lives we touch during our days on earth, people we can impact for eternity. If we keep those as our focus, we can be thankful regardless of what circumstances we encounter, good or bad.

Briefly, here are some helpful principles from the Bible about thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving is continual. We do not need to pause from activities, or set aside special times to express thanks. It should be an ongoing attitude of the heart. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you ”  (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Thanksgiving is expectant. Even in the midst of adversity, trust in God enables us to believe with confidence that He will use our circumstances for His – and our – ultimate good. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose”  (Romans 8:28). “Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”  (Ephesians 5:20).

Thanksgiving is giving back to God. Giving thanks to the Lord means acknowledging all He has done for us, knowing that even though we did not deserve His love, grace and mercy, He has given them to us freely – along with the material blessings of this life. “Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song”  (Psalm 95:2). “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4).

© 2020. Robert J. Tamasy has written Marketplace Ambassadors: CBMC’s Continuing Legacy of Evangelism and Discipleship; Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; andThe Heart of Mentoring, coauthored with David A. Stoddard. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  1.  When you hear the word “thanksgiving,” what comes to your mind? How easy is it for you to express thanks to others – even to God? Explain your answer.
  2. If you were to rate your personal level of thankfulness right now, on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high), what score would you give it? Why did you give it that score?
  3. What are two or three things you feel thankful for, even if you have encountered some very difficult times during the coming year?
  4. Do you genuinely believe the biblical promise that God works all things together for good to those who love Him? How would you explain that in your own words?

NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:

Psalm 50:14-15, 100:1-5; 107:1-9,19-22; Philippians 4:6; Colossians 4:2; 1 Timothy 4:4-5


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