Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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葡萄樹傳媒

沉默的絕望,還是喜樂的盼望──QUIET DESPERATION, OR JOYFUL ANTICIPATION?

在19世紀中期,散文家、詩人和哲學家亨利·大衛·梭羅(Henry David Thoreau)提出一個我們許多人耳熟能詳的名言:「大部分的人過著沉默而又絕望的生活。」在梭羅的延伸引文中,他說:「所謂聽天由命無非就是一種習以為常的絕望。…甚至在人類所謂遊戲和消遣的背後也隱藏這一種模式化而又不為人覺察的絕望。」(摘自湖濱散記全新中譯本)

這確實不是最令人振奮的觀察,對吧?但150多年後,它仍然好像是真的,不是嗎?他所提到的這種「沉默的絕望」似乎在前幾年全球疫情爆發時,許多人變得更加嚴重了。日常生活被打亂,人們失去了工作,隔離和封鎖加劇了孤立感。我們所知道的「正常」被完全的顛覆了。

也許你認識某個生命景況符合「沉默的絕望」描述的人。或者你自己有時也曾有過這種感覺。我們可以用不同的方式應對變化,但當生活的不確定性變得接近混亂邊緣,絕望成為適合描述我們心境的詞語時,是可以理解的。變化的節奏不斷加快。職場的要求比以往任何時候都更加複雜。如果我們發現自己情緒急遽惡化,是否還有可能在所有絕望中找到喜樂呢?

如果我們相信聖經的永恆教導和真理,這個答案絕對是肯定的。聖經為我們提供了許多,人們被上帝從絕望的景況中拯救的例子:比如,以色列人在埃及被奴役多年,但被上帝解救,並帶領進入應許之地;大衛在成為王之前和之後面臨致命的對立;沙得拉、米煞、亞伯尼歌從烈火的窯中得救;但以理被扔進獅子坑。

他們都可能陷入絕望,但上帝將他們的絕望轉化為喜樂。幾千年之後,上帝依然不變。我們每天面對的情況可能不同,但正如聖經一再肯定的那樣 -「沉默的絕望」不一定會成為那些認識和跟隨主的人的心聲-即使在21世紀的職場。以下是聖經給我們的一些保證 :

喜樂可以在上帝永恆不變的話語中找到。我們每天都面對一連串的壞消息,誘使我們懷疑是否一切希望都已失去。牧師阿利斯泰爾.貝格(Alistair Begg)寫到 : 「通往長久幸福的道路,不僅僅是拒絕虛假的建議;還要加上擁抱真理的美好。」「不從惡人的計謀,不站罪人的道路…惟喜愛耶和華的律法,晝夜思想,這人便為有福。」(詩篇1篇1-2節)

喜樂隨著上帝的糾正而來。有時我們所面臨的困難是由我們自己造成的,而上帝使用這些困難,來實行必要的管教。但是上帝的信實和對祂子民的愛卻永不改變「因為,他的怒氣不過是轉眼之間;他的恩典乃是一生之久。一宿雖然有哭泣,早晨便必歡呼。」(詩篇30篇5節)

喜樂可以戰勝對立。當我們堅持自己的信仰時,與我們一同工作的人不會總是友善的。我們甚至可能會遇到激烈的對立和嘲笑。但耶穌基督祂說 :「人若因我辱罵你們,逼迫你們,捏造各樣壞話毀謗你們,你們就有福了!應當歡喜快樂,因為你們在天上的賞賜是大的。…」(馬太福音5章11-12節)

© 2023. 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

挑戰思考

當我們身處逆境時,可能會發現自己很想獨自承受痛苦,但我們都能從他人的鼓勵、支持以及必要時的明智建議中受益。當你感到氣餒或瀕臨絕境時,你會向誰求助?今天,你可以採取哪些措施,在需要的時候建立這樣的支持團體呢?

備註:如果你有聖經,想閱讀更多相關的經文,請參考:(因篇幅有限,請參閱未列出的經文:羅馬書12:10-12、彼得前書4:12-13)

使徒行傳5章40-42節
5:40公會的人聽從了他,便叫使徒來,把他們打了,又吩咐他們不可奉耶穌的名講道,就把他們釋放了。
5:41他們離開公會,心裡歡喜,因被算是配為這名受辱。
5:42他們就每日在殿裡、在家裡、不住的教訓人,傳耶穌是基督。
羅馬書5章1-5節、12節
5:1我們既因信稱義,就藉著我們的主耶穌基督得與神相和。
5:2我們又藉著他,因信得進入現在所站的這恩典中,並且歡歡喜喜盼望神的榮耀。
5:3不但如此,就是在患難中也是歡歡喜喜的;因為知道患難生忍耐,
5:4忍耐生老練,老練生盼望;
5:5盼望不至於羞恥,因為所賜給我們的聖靈將神的愛澆灌在我們心裡。
5:12這就如罪是從一人入了世界,死又是從罪來的;於是死就臨到眾人,因為眾人都犯了罪。
雅各書1章2-8節
1:2我的弟兄們,你們落在百般試煉中,都要以為大喜樂;
1:3因為知道你們的信心經過試驗,就生忍耐。
1:4但忍耐也當成功,使你們成全、完備,毫無缺欠。
1:5你們中間若有缺少智慧的,應當求那厚賜與眾人、也不斥責人的神,主就必賜給他。
1:6只要憑著信心求,一點不疑惑;因為那疑惑的人,就像海中的波浪,被風吹動翻騰。
1:7這樣的人不要想從主那裡得什麼。
1:8心懷二意的人,在他一切所行的路上都沒有定見。

反省與問題討論

  1. 你之前有聽過亨利·大衛·梭羅(Henry David Thoreau)提到人們過著「沉默而又絕望的生活」的這句話嗎?對於這個觀察,你有什麼反應?你認為這種觀察即使在今天仍然成立嗎?請解釋你的答案。
  2. 你能想到自己可能曾經有過「沉默的絕望」的描述嗎?如果有,那是甚麼樣的情況呢? – 這些情況是如何解決的?
  3. 當你感到沮喪,即使不至於絕望,你通常會如何應對?你是否會向信任的朋友和同事尋求鼓勵和支持?你是否發現在這些時候閱讀聖經會有所幫助?請解釋你的答案。
  4. 以上帝為根基的信仰,無論是在職場或是個人生命和追求中,你認為能在哪些方面,幫助人度過困難甚至絕望的時刻呢?你是否有過這樣的經歷,儘管情況困難,你發現自己對上帝的信靠,使你能找到「早晨的喜樂(或歡欣)」?如果有,這對你有什麼影響?


QUIET DESPERATION, OR JOYFUL ANTICIPATION?

By Robert J. Tamasy

Back in the mid-1800s, essayist, poet and philosopher Henry David Thoreau made a statement that has become familiar to many of us, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” In Thoreau’s extended quotation, he said, “What is called resignation is confirmed desperation…. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind.”

Not the most uplifting observation, right? But more than 150 years later, it still carries a ring of truth, doesn’t it? This “quiet desperation” he cited seemed to become more acute for many people just a few years ago during the global pandemic. Daily routines were disrupted, people lost jobs, quarantines and lockdowns heightened the sense of isolation. What we knew as ‘normal’ was turned upside-down.

Perhaps you know someone whose life fits the description of “quiet desperation.” Or maybe you have felt that way yourself at times. We respond to change in different ways, but when life’s uncertainty sometimes borders on chaos, it is understandable if desperation becomes a good word for describing our state of mind. The pace of change is ever-escalating. Workplace demands are more complex than ever. If we find ourselves in a downward emotional spiral, is it possible to find joy in the midst of all the despair?

The answer is yes if we believe the timeless teachings and truths of the Bible. The Scriptures give us numerous examples of people who were delivered from desperate circumstances by God: the Israelites, enslaved in Egypt for many years but freed and then led by the Lord into the Promised Land; David, facing deadly opposition before and after he became king; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, saved from a fiery furnace; Daniel thrown into a den of lions.

They all could have given in to despair, yet God transformed their desperation into joy. Thousands of years later, God has changed. Situations we face each day may be different, but as the Bible affirms again and again, “quiet desperation” need not define the hearts and minds of those who know and follow the Lord – even in the marketplace of the 21st century. Here are some assurances it gives to us:

Joy is found in the unchanging Word of God. We face a barrage of bad news every day, tempting us to wonder if all hope is lost. Scottish-born pastor and author Alistair Begg writes, “the path toward lasting happiness is not just rejecting deceitful counsel; it also involves embracing the beauty of truth.” “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked…. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law, he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2).

Joy follows God’s correction. Sometimes the difficulties we face are of our own making, and the Lord uses those for needed discipline. But He remains faithful and His love for His people never fades, “For His anger lasts only for a moment but His favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

Joy can overcome opposition. People we work with are not always pleased when we stand up for our faith. We might even encounter aggressive opposition and ridicule. But so did Jesus Christ. He said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:11-12).

© 2023. 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; Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart, coauthored with Ken Johnson; andThe Heart of Mentoring, coauthored with David A. Stoddard. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  1. Had you previously heard the quote from Henry David Thoreau about people leading lives of “quiet desperation”? What is your reaction to that observation? Do you believe it remains true even today? Why or why not?
  2. Can you think of a time when you yourself might have qualified for the “quiet desperation” description? If so, what were the circumstances – and how were they resolved?
  3. When you find yourself feeling discouraged, even if not in the throes of despair, how do you typically respond? Do you turn to trusted friends and colleagues for encouragement and support? Have you found that reading the Bible has been helpful at such times?    Explain your answers.
  4. In what ways do you think a faith anchored in God can help in enduring difficult, even desperate times, whether they come about in the workplace or in one’s personal life and pursuits? Have you ever experienced a time when despite troubling circumstances, you found that your trust in the Lord enabled you to discover “joy (or rejoicing) in the morning”? If so, what impact did that have on you?

NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages: Acts 5:40-42; Romans 5:1-5,11, 12:10-12; James 1:2-8; 1 Peter 4:12-13

Challenge

We may find ourselves tempted to suffer alone when going through times of adversity, but we all can benefit from the encouragement, support and when necessary, wise counsel of others. Who do you have that you can turn to when you feel discouraged or on the brink of desperation? What steps can you take today to establish that kind of support group when it is needed?



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