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在看似絕望的時刻尋求盼望

SEEKING HOPE IN SEEMINGLY HOPELESS TIMES

(2020/08/24)

毫無疑問地,我們正生活在非常艱難的時期。在全球疫情大流行、社會動盪、經濟震動,以及頻繁的極端氣候現象之間, 許多人憂慮至極在絕望中掙扎。在這種情況下,有兩種主要的應對方法:我們可以屈服於日益加深的絕望,或者我們可以接受這些逆境,當作是成長的機會。

許多人的問題在於當生活似乎失去控制時,他們不知道該向誰求援。有些人發現自己回到過去的成癮行為;有些人甚至做出了悲劇性且不可逆轉的決定,以自殺來「解決」問題。

最近,我聽到一個令我感到難過的消息,一名客戶告訴我他的前妻結束了自己的生命。她和躁鬱症搏鬥多年。即使她數年前就離開了家,壽險的死亡收益也無法消除我的客戶和他的兩個小男孩所要承受的痛苦。他們再也無法聯繫上所愛之人。

即便我能盡全力的支持這個家庭,能給的安慰也有限。這不是我所碰到的第一位,屈服於絕望感、沒有考慮到這樣激進的行為將如何影響他們最親近的人之案例。

儘管悲劇如此,我認為在看似絕望的時刻尋求盼望是值得努力的。無論事情看起來多麼黯淡,生命是寶貴有價值的。每個人在生命的不同時期都會遇到困難。即便是跟隨基督的人也該知道,生活並不總是那麼容易。耶穌告訴門徒說:「在世上,你們有苦難;但你們可以放心,我已經勝了世界。」(約翰福音16章33節)我們的盼望不是在當下的環境裡,而是在掌管所有處境的上帝裡。

蓋瑟美聲天籟合唱團(Gaither Vocal Band)的著名歌曲<因祂活著>的歌詞也激勵了我:「因祂活著,我能面對明天。因祂活著,不再懼怕。我深知道,祂掌管明天,生命充滿了希望,只因祂活著。」這些歌詞滿有能力,值得牢記,因為我們常發現自己在低谷中的時間,往往比在高山上多。

身為商務和專業人士,我們始終在追求最終利潤。「絕望」一詞是撒但的計謀,聖經中說牠是撒謊者和欺騙者,是上帝的敵人。牠的目標一直以來都是欺騙我們並摧毀我們的生活。我們中間信靠基督為救主的人,可以確信自己擁有永恆的恩典。因為耶穌近兩千年前就拯救、贖回我們,免了我們過去、現在和將來的罪。

我們可以看得見和感覺得到的世界確實會使我們失去盼望,感到絕望。但是,我們在聖經中能尋找到確據:「我們得救是在乎盼望;只是所見的盼望不是盼望,誰還盼望他所見的呢(有古卷:人所看見的何必再盼望呢)?但我們若盼望那所不見的,就必忍耐等候。」(羅馬書8章24-25節) 一個「希望如此(hope-so)」的世界會產生絕望,但聖經的盼望則孕育充滿信心的確據,以及真實、不變的期待。


Jim Langley從事人壽健康保險業已經超過30年了。最近幾年,他熱心於將自己與神的關係書 寫
出來,目的是要鼓勵其他人更加親近神。他也是CBMC的長期會員,在2014年時,他開始寫作「比賽第四節策略」(Fourth Quarter Strategies)。

備註:想知道聖經中關於這個主題的更多信息,請參考以下經文:
羅馬書5章6-8節
5:6 因我們還軟弱的時候,基督就按所定的日期為罪人死。
5:7 為義人死,是少有的;為仁人死,或者有敢做的。
5:8 惟有基督在我們還作罪人的時候為我們死, 神的愛就在此向我們顯明了。
哥林多後書4章18節
4:18 原來我們不是顧念所見的,乃是顧念所不見的;因為所見的是暫時的,所不見的是永遠的。
以弗所書6章14-18節
6:14 所以要站穩了,用真理當作帶子束腰,用公義當作護心鏡遮胸,
6:15 又用平安的福音當作預備走路的鞋穿在腳上。
6:16 此外,又拿著信德當作盾牌,可以滅盡那惡者一切的火箭;
6:17 並戴上救恩的頭盔,拿著聖靈的寶劍,就是 神的道;
6:18 靠著聖靈,隨時多方禱告祈求;並要在此警醒不倦,為眾聖徒祈求,
帖撒羅尼迦前書5章8-11節
5:8 但我們既然屬乎白晝,就應當謹守,把信和愛當作護心鏡遮胸,把得救的盼望當作頭盔戴上。
5:9 因為 神不是預定我們受刑,乃是預定我們藉著我們主耶穌基督得救。
5:10 他替我們死,叫我們無論醒著,睡著,都與他同活。
5:11 所以,你們該彼此勸慰,互相建立,正如你們素常所行的。
希伯來書6章17-20節
6:17 照樣, 神願意為那承受應許的人格外顯明他的旨意是不更改的,就起誓為證。
6:18 藉這兩件不更改的事, 神決不能說謊,好叫我們這逃往避難所、持定擺在我們前頭指望的人可以大得勉勵。
6:19 我們有這指望,如同靈魂的錨,又堅固又牢靠,且通入幔內。
6:20 作先鋒的耶穌,既照著麥基洗德的等次成了永遠的大祭司,就為我們進入幔內。

反省與問題討論
第一、今年的挑戰––疫情、社會動盪、經濟困境,對你有甚麼影響?
第二、在這段時間,你的心情是否曾陷入絕望的困境?如果沒有,你知道有其他人如此嗎?對你或是其他人來說,這是甚麼樣的經歷?
第三、有時我們會問:「你覺得明天是好天氣嗎?」有人會回答:「I hope so­­ - 我希望如此。」你認為這裡的「希望如此」和聖經中的「Hope盼望」有什麼差別?
第四、當聽到有人說他們即使在困難、看似不可能的情況下,依然把希望寄託在上帝身上,你會如何回應?

 

MONDAY MANNA
August 24, 2020

SEEKING HOPE IN SEEMINGLY HOPELESS TIMES
By Jim Langley

 

We live in very troubled times, without a doubt. Between a global pandemic, social unrest, economic turmoil and frequent instances of severe, extreme weather, many people are beyond concerned – they are struggling with a sense of hopelessness. There are two primary ways to respond in circumstances like these: We can give in to the deepening despair, or we accept them for the adversity that they are, but use them as opportunities for growth.

The problem for many people is they do not know where to turn when life seems out of control. Some find themselves returning to past addictive behaviors. There are those who even make the tragic and irreversible decision to “solve” their problems with suicide.

I was recently saddened to hear from one of my clients, who informed me that his ex-wife decided to end her life. She had battled bi-polar disorder for many years. Even though she had a life insurance policy, the death proceeds will not remove the pain my client and his two young boys will have to bear, even though the woman deserted her family several years ago. They have still lost any future contact with someone they loved.

Even though I can try to support the family as much as possible, often there is little consolation you can give. This was not the first time I have encountered someone who gave in to feelings of hopelessness and did not consider the impact such drastic actions could have on those nearest to them.

Despite such tragedies, I have come to regard the search for hope in seemingly hopeless times as a worthwhile endeavor. Life is precious and worthwhile, no matter how dismal things may seem. We all face difficulties during seasons of our lives. Even for followers of Christ, we should understand life is not always easy. Jesus told His disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Our hope is to be not in our circumstances, but in God, who is in control of our circumstances.

I have also found encouragement in the lyrics from a well-known Gaither Vocal Band song, Because He Lives: “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future. And life is worth the living just because He lives.” These are powerful words to remember, because we all find ourselves in valleys much more than on mountaintops.

As business and professional people, we always look for the bottom line. In terms of hopelessness, it is a tactic of Satan, described in the Bible as a liar and a deceiver, the enemy of God. His goal is – and has always been – to deceive us and destroy our lives. For those of us who have placed our trust in Christ as Savior and Lord, we can be certain our eternal well-being is secure. His work of salvation and redemption took place nearly 2,000 years ago, covering our sins past, present and future.

The world around us, which we can see and feel, can indeed cause us to lose hope, despair. However, in the Scriptures we find assurance: “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently”  (Romans 8:24-25). A “hope-so” world breeds hopelessness, but biblical hope breeds a confident assurance and an earnest, unwavering expectation.

© 2020, 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.

CBMC INTERNATIONAL:  Jim Firnstahl, President
2850 N. Swan Road, Suite 160▪ Tucson, Arizona 85712 ▪ U.S.A.
TEL.: 520-334-1114 ▪ E-MAIL: mmanna@cbmcint.org
Web site: www.cbmcint.org  Please direct any requests or change of address to: jmarple@cbmcint.org


Reflection/Discussion Questions

1.How have the challenges of this year – the pandemic, social unrest, a troubled economy – affected you?

 
2.During this time, have you ever found yourself struggling with feelings of hopelessness? If not, do you know of someone who has? What has that experience been like – for you or for them?
 
3.Sometimes we might ask something like, “Do you think the weather will be good tomorrow?” and someone will respond, “I hope so.” What do you think is the difference between “hope so” and biblical hope?

4.How do you respond when you hear someone saying they are placing their hope in God, even in difficult, seemingly impossible circumstances?




NOTE: For more about what the Bible says about this topic, consider the following passages:
 
Romans 5:6-8; 2 Corinthians 4:18; Ephesians 6:14-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:8-11; Hebrews 6:17-20