Friday, June 14, 2024

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葡萄樹傳媒

在看似絕望的時刻尋找希望──SEEKING HOPE IN SEEMINGLY HOPELESS TIMES

在全球COVID-19大流行的間接影響中,我們或許可以稱之為「附帶損害collateral damage」-各年齡層對於未來感到毫無希望的,顯著地在增加。疫情期間,許多人不知該向何處尋求幫助。無助和絕望變得形影不離。對於一些人來說,這導致他們重新陷入過去的成癮行為。有些甚至用了永遠無法挽回的方式,結束自己的生命,以逃避他們的恐懼和痛苦。

我永遠不會忘記聽到一位客戶說,他的前妻決定結束自己的生命。即使她在三年前就已經離開了他們的家庭,他仍然為她投保了人壽保險。然而,死亡保險金,絲毫無法減輕他和他的兩個年幼兒子,因失去她而必須承受的痛苦。有人把自殺稱為「對一個短暫問題的一了百了方案。」隨著她決定結束自己的生命,這個家庭失去了與他們所愛之人的連結。

生命是珍貴的,我一直很驚訝,為什麼有人可以就如此放棄,無論事情看起來多麼糟糕或毫無希望。我認為在看似無望的時刻,尋找希望是非常值得努力的。我們在生命的不同階段,都會面臨困難。作為基督徒,我逐漸明白生活並非總是容易-有時也不是我們想要的。耶穌曾告訴祂的門徒:「我將這些事告訴你們,是要叫你們在我裡面有平安。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)

我也從蓋瑟美聲天籟合唱團(Gaither Vocal Band)的歌曲《因祂活著》中找到鼓勵:「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。」

這些美麗的詞句我已經牢記在心,偶爾在令人沮喪的時候,我會不自覺地唱著它們。像大多數人一樣,我發現自己身處低谷的時間,比站在高山的時候更多。

經驗告訴我,當我感到最接近那些需要鼓勵的人時,這正是上帝更喜歡使用我的地方。這就是為什麼我們的個人經歷如此重要。我們需要與那些,可能正在經歷類似情況的人,分享這些經歷。

沒有盼望是我們屬靈敵人的一種技倆,聖經將這位敵人稱為撒旦。牠和牠的惡魔們,渴望激起沒有盼望的感覺,盡可能地引誘更多的人陷入其中。正如C.S. 魯益師在他那本強而有力的小書《魔鬼家書》(The Screwtape Letters)中所表明的,撒旦是個撒謊者和欺騙者。牠的目標一直是要欺騙我們,毀滅我們的生命。對此的回應就是,在耶穌基督裡有永恆的盼望。

對於所有已經將信心放在基督作為救主和主的人來說,我們知道永恆的福祉是被保障的。救贖的工作發生在將近2000年前,當時基督因我們的緣故,為我們過去、現在和未來的罪而死。但祂的工作今天仍在繼續。我們擁有祂的應許:「…我總不撇下你,也不丟棄你。」(希伯來書13章5節) 。耶穌也對祂的追隨者說:「凡我所吩咐你們的,都教訓他們遵守,我就常與你們同在,直到世界的末了。」(馬太福音28章20節)
即使事情看起來像是很沒有希望的,我們仍可以抓緊另一個確據:「你不要害怕,因為我與你同在;不要驚惶,因為我是你的神。我必堅固你,我必幫助你;我必用我公義的右手扶持你。」(以賽亞書41章10節)

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:以弗所書6:10-17)

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。
羅馬書8章28節、37-39節
8:28 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。
8:37 然而,靠著愛我們的主,在這一切的事上已經得勝有餘了。
8:38 因為我深信無論是死,是生,是天使,是掌權的,是有能的,是現在的事,是將來的事,
8:39 是高處的,是低處的,是別的受造之物,都不能叫我們與神的愛隔絕;這愛是在我們的主基督耶穌裡的。
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。
提多書2章13-14節
2:13等候所盼望的福,並等候至大的神和(或作無和字)我們救主耶穌基督的榮耀顯現。
2:14他為我們捨了自己,要贖我們脫離一切罪惡,又潔淨我們,特作自己的子民,熱心為善。

反省與問題討論

  1. 評估指出,近年來已經歷或正在經歷,沒有盼望和絕望情緒的人數急遽增加,你是否同意?如果同意,造成這樣的原因會是什麼?
  2. 就你自己而言,你或你身邊的人是否有經歷過這些感受?你是如何應對的?
  3. Langley 藍利先生信仰耶穌基督:「不只祂所作永恆的救恩和饒恕的工,還有今天祂會在我們生命中所做的事。」即使在看似沒有希望的時刻,也能帶給我們希望和信心。如果你同意這樣的說法,請分享你生命中的經歷。
  4. 如果你遇到了一個情緒沮喪且失去盼望的人,你覺得哪些步驟會最有幫助?


SEEKING HOPE IN SEEMINGLY HOPELESS TIMES

By Jim Langley

Among the indirect effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic – we might term it “collateral damage” – has been a dramatic increase in people of all ages who experience feelings of hopelessness. During the pandemic many people did not know where to turn. Hopelessness and despair became constant companions. For some, this prompted a return to past addictive behaviors. Others even took the irreversible position of ending their lives to escape their fear and pain.

I will never forget hearing from one of my clients that his ex-wife decided to end her life. He still had carried life insurance on her, even though she had deserted their family more than three years earlier. However, the death benefits could in no way remove the pain he and his two young boys had to bear over her loss. Someone has termed suicide “a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” With her decision to take her own life, this family lost contact with someone they loved.

Life is precious and I have always wondered how someone can just give up, no matter how dismal or hopeless things may seem. I consider seeking hope in seemingly hopeless times a very worthwhile endeavor. We all face difficulties during seasons of our lives. As a follower of Christ, I have come to understand that life is not always easy – and it is not intended to be. Jesus told His disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

I also find encouragement in these lyrics from a 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 beautiful words that I have committed to memory; occasionally I find myself singing them during discouraging times. Like most of us, I find myself in valleys much more often than mountaintops.

Experience has taught me this is where God prefers to use me, when I feel closest to others in need of encouragement. This is why our personal experiences are so significant. We need to share them with others who might be going through similar circumstances.

Hopelessness is a tactic of our spiritual enemy, whom the Bible identifies as Satan. He and his demons desire to stir feelings of hopelessness, taking as many people down as they possibly can. As C.S. Lewis declares in his powerful little book, The Screwtape Letters, Satan is a liar and a deceiver. His goal has always been to deceive us and destroy our lives. The answer to this is our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.

For all who have placed our trust in Christ as Savior and Lord, we know our eternal well-being is secure. The work of salvation took place nearly 2,000 years ago as Christ died for our sake and our sins of the past, present, and future. But His work continues today. We have His promise, “Never will I Ieave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Jesus also told His followers, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

Even when things seem most hopeless, we can cling to another assurance: “So do not fear, for I am with you do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

© 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. Do you agree with the assessment that in recent years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people who have experienced or are experiencing feelings of hopelessness and despair? If so, what factors do you think account for this?
  2. In your own case, have you or someone close to you experienced any of these feelings? How have you responded?
  3. Mr. Langley states faith in Jesus Christ – not only in the work He did to provide eternal salvation and forgiveness, but also what He wants to do in our lives today – can bring us a sense of hope and confidence even in times that seem without hope? Do you agree? If so, how have you experienced this in your life?
  4. If you encountered someone else who had become downhearted and without hope, what steps do you think would be most helpful?

NOTE: For more about what the Bible says about this topic, consider the following passages: Romans 5:6-8, 8:28,37-39; Ephesians 6:10-17; 1 Thessalonians 5:8-11; Titus 2:13-14



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