凡事謝恩──REMEMBERING TO BE THANKFUL – AT ALL TIMES

MONDAY MANNA

你會為什麼感恩?是你的職業、家庭、健康、還是豐盛的財務?你多常停下腳步思考或回顧自己生活中發生的好事,並且真誠感恩?你會對誰為了什麼表達感激?

對很多美國人來說,本週有兩個重要事件:聖誕季正式開始(儘管對於許多零售商來說,聖誕季是從8月中旬開始)以及感恩節的慶祝活動。在感恩節,男人、女人和小孩為自己生活中得到的祝福感恩。對某些人來說,這是把注意力轉向賜予祝福的上帝的時刻。有些人會為了其他的事情感恩——例如好運、自己的努力或偶然的機會。

我自己會感謝上帝。聖經把上帝形容為現在、過去和未來一切的創造、供應和維持者。我知道自己有某些天賦和能力,但也知道這是我白白得來,不可能在別的地方買到的。我也相信主把這些天賦賜給我,是要我精進它們並且用來將榮耀歸給祂。為此,也為了許多其他的事情,我感謝祂。

同時,我也認為感恩不應該局限在特定的日子或季節。我學到最早的聖經經文教導我們:「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5:18)據我了解,「凡事」或「在所有景況中」(另一種翻譯)的意思是……凡事,在所有景況中。

所以,這表示我們不僅要感謝生活中發生的美好事情(我們通常定義為「恩典」),也要感謝困難甚至痛苦的情況。另一段經文是這樣說的:「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。」(腓立比書4:6)

在一切事情進展順利的時候,例如所有的賬單都付清了;有充足有餘的衣服可以穿;有房子住;冰箱裡有食物;沒有任何健康方面的挫折;工作愉快而有意義時,感恩是容易的。有人甚至會說:「一切都很好!」

但是,我們都知道,生活中會遇到困難和逆境,例如:意外發生,讓我們的財務不堪負荷;自己或所愛的人收到重病通知;工作變得乏味、令人沮喪,甚至痛苦,但是我們卻沒有更好的選擇等等。這時我們要如何繼續感恩?我認為可以在聖經中找到答案。我們的目光焦點應該放在上帝身上,祂保證會永遠與我們同在、滿足我們的需求,無論我們的狀況多麼棘手。

在聖經著名的詩篇中,作者描述了無數的挫折,並承認「我在急難中求告耶和華」,但是他也說:「他就應允我,把我安置在寬闊之地。有耶和華幫助我,我必不懼怕,人能把我怎麼樣呢?」(詩118:5-6)在詩篇的開頭和結尾都有這樣的保證,作者勸告讀者說:「你們要稱謝耶和華,因他本為善,他的慈愛永遠長存!」(詩篇118:1,29)

當我們相信上帝掌權時,無論得時或不得時我們都能感謝祂。正如另一個詩篇所說的那樣,我們可以「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100:4)

© 2019. 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。也與導師之心的作者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, 他的雙週部落格為: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com

反省與問題討論

  1. 回到文章開頭的問題「你會為什麼感恩?」,你最想為生活中的什麼事情感恩?
  2. 你是否在日常生活中遇到讓你無法感恩的困境或情形?如果有,是什麼?你如何處理?
  3. 當你讀到關於「凡事謝恩」、「在所有情況中感恩」的經文時,你的反應是什麼?這是可能的嗎?
  4. 把我們的注意力從艱困或挑戰的環境中移開,轉向聖經描述為「良善、慈愛永遠長存」的上帝,能如何改變我們對感恩的態度,或是從不感恩到感恩?請解釋你的答案。

備註:如果你手上有聖經,想要閱讀更多相關的經文,請參考:詩篇95:1-2,147:1,7;但以理書6:10;以弗所書5:19-20;歌羅西書3:17

詩篇95:1-2
95:1 來啊,我們要向耶和華歌唱,向拯救我們的磐石歡呼!
95:2 我們要來感謝他,用詩歌向他歡呼!

詩篇147:1,7
147:1 你們要讚美耶和華!因歌頌我們的 神為善為美;讚美的話是合宜的。
147:7 你們要以感謝向耶和華歌唱,用琴向我們的 神歌頌。

但以理書6:10
6:10 但以理知道這禁令蓋了玉璽,就到自己家裏(他樓上的窗戶開向耶路撒冷),一日三次,雙膝跪在他 神面前,禱告感謝,與素常一樣。

以弗所書5:19-20
5:19 當用詩章、頌詞、靈歌彼此對說,口唱心和地讚美主。
5:20 凡事要奉我們主耶穌基督的名常常感謝父 神。

歌羅西書3:17
3:17 無論做甚麼,或說話或行事,都要奉主耶穌的名,藉著他感謝父 神。


REMEMBERING TO BE THANKFUL – AT ALL TIMES

By Robert J. Tamasy

What are you thankful for – your career, your family, your health, financial prosperity? How often do you pause to ponder or reflect on the positives in your life – to be genuinely thankful? And when you do give thanks, to whom, or what, do you express your gratitude?

For many people in the United States, this week marks two important events: The official start of the Christmas season (although for many retailers, that began around the middle of August), and the observance of Thanksgiving Day, a holiday in which men, women and children offer thanks for their blessings in life. For some, it is a time to direct attention to the God who bestows those blessings. Others focus their thankfulness elsewhere – perhaps to good fortune, their own efforts, or random circumstances.

Personally, I offer thanks to God, whom the Bible describes as the Creator, provider and sustainer of all that is, ever has been and ever will be. I recognize that I possess certain gifts and abilities, but also understand I did nothing to earn them. I certainly could not purchase them anywhere. I believe the Lord gave them to me to develop and use in bringing glory to Him. And for that, and many other things, I thank Him.

At the same time, I do not believe thanksgiving should be confined to a particular day or season. One of the earliest Bible verses I learned admonishes, “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). As I understand it, “in all circumstances” or “in everything” (as another translation terms it) means…in all circumstances. In everything.

So, this means we are to give thanks not only for good things that happen in our lives, what we typically define as our “blessings,” but also for difficult, even painful circumstances. Another passage presents it this way: “In every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

It is east to feel gratitude at those times when everything seems to be going well. All the bills are paid; we have more than enough clothes to wear; we have a roof over our heads and food in the refrigerator; we have not had any health setbacks; we find our work enjoyable and rewarding. As some might say, “It’s all good!”

However, we all have learned that in life, hardships and adversities do occur. Emergencies happen, upsetting our budgets. We or someone we love receive a concerning medical report. Our jobs become tedious, frustrating, even agonizing – yet we have no better options. How do we remain thankful at times like that? I think we find the answer in the Scriptures. Our focus should be on God, who promises to always be with us and to meet our needs, not on our circumstances, no matter how troubling they may be.

In a well-known psalm, the writer describes numerous setbacks and admits, “In my anguish I cried to the Lord.” But then he adds, “and he answered by setting me free. The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:5-6). Having this assurance, at both the beginning and the end of the psalm, he is able to exhort his readers, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1,29).

When we trust that God is in control, we can give thanks to Him in good times and bad times. We can, as another Psalm tells us, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise His name” (Psalm 100:4).

© 2019. Robert J. Tamasy has written Marketplace Ambassadors; Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies; coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring, and edited numerous other books, including Advancing Through Adversity by Mike Landry. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  1. To revisit the opening question, what things in your life are you most thankful for?
  2. Are there things in your life – difficult realities or circumstances – for which you find difficult to feel any measure of thankfulness? If those, what are those, and how have you been dealing with them?
  3. What is your reaction to reading biblical passages that tell us to “give thanks in all circumstances” or “in every situation”? How can that even be possible?
  4. How could shifting our focus away from difficult or challenging circumstances and instead, directing it toward God, whom the Scriptures describe as “good, his love endures forever,” change our feelings of thankfulness – or the lack of it? Explain your answer.

NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:
Psalm 95:1-2, 147:1,7; Daniel 6:10; Ephesians 5:19-20; Colossians 3:17

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