又到了停下腳步和感恩的季節了!

真令人難以置信,一年的尾聲又來臨了。世界上有些地方的人在這星期慶祝感恩節,意味著一年一度的年假正式開始了。不過,在我們陷入二十一世紀聖誕節的輕浮與狂熱前,該停下腳步來思考一下,哪些事是我們該感恩的?

當然,你也許會問「為什麼我要感恩?」,因為你在去年丟了工作或事業;或者你仍堅持你的專業,卻沒有大的進展。或者,你看到自己個人投資的資產大幅減少,你的退休計畫受到嚴重的打擊,讓你不覺得需要感恩。

即使一些財經專家宣稱,經濟不景氣已經到達谷底,景氣就要回升,但這對失業或半失業的人稱不上安慰。因為當你在付帳單時,這些一點也不能取悅那些堅持要收帳款的債權人。似乎對某些人來說,他們還是要問「要我們怎麼感恩得下去?」

首先,如果你可以用電腦看到「週一嗎哪」,那你仍超越了成千上萬沒有現代科技的人們;如果你沒有躺在醫院等著從手術中恢復,或是根本就是得到重病躺在醫院,你已經比數以萬計的男人、婦女和孩子幸運多了;你能讀這個電子郵件也表示你比那些看不見的人好太多了。

這不是為了減小或輕視那些我們在今年一整年所遇到各方面的挑戰。 但它幫助我們有眼光,不將目光聚焦在那些我們沒有的事上,而是選擇感謝我們已有的好處和祝福。 聖經提供了我們一些建議,告訴我們如何在困難的時期依然感恩:

透過你的工作表達感恩-工作對我們的生活很重要,也是做為人類很重要的呼召。不管我們的能力和天分如何,我們每一個人都能透過工作對我們週遭的世界做出重要的貢獻。「無論做甚麼,說甚麼,你們都要奉主耶穌的名,藉著他感謝父上帝」 (歌羅西書 3:17)。

為你的困難感恩-在困境和患難中,我們常獲取最大的教訓。生命的真理告訴我們在失敗中比在成功中學得更多。「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,忍耐生老練,老練生盼望」(羅馬書5:3~4)。

不管你的狀況如何,單單感恩-要相信神不是遠在天邊的神,而是對我們感興趣和介入我們每一個人生活的神。你必須相信,祂掌管萬有,包括那些好的和那些沒那麼好的,甚至是最小的細節。「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8:28)。「凡事要奉我們主耶穌基督的名常常感謝父神」 (以弗所書5:20)。

如果今年是你生命中最好的一年之一,你可以為此歡喜並感恩。但即使今年你過的很辛苦,對神的信心能讓你有確據:祂從未忘記你,祂對你的人生有一個特別的計劃。

思想 / 討論題目
回顧今年,到目前為止,你是否想為某事感恩? 為什麼? 什麼是你今年最大的挑戰?什麼是你最大的喜悅或幸福的來源? 你是否曾經想過如何在工作上表現自己並運用你的天分、技能來表達感恩? 解釋你的答案。 神怎麼可能使「萬事都互相效力,叫愛神的人得益處」?特别當這些人遭受到重大的痛苦和磨難? 即使只能事後回憶,你是否能想起一個真心感恩的時刻? 註:若你有聖經且想要看有關此主題的其他經文,請看:
詩篇7章17節、9章1-2節、69章30- 31節、耶利米書29章11-13節、但以理2章:23節、以弗所書2章10節、腓立比書4章19節

TIME AGAIN TO PAUSE AND GIVE THANKS
By: Robert J. Tamasy

Hard as it is to believe, another year is marching relentlessly to a close. This week, people in some parts of the world will celebrate Thanksgiving Day, meaning the annual holiday season has officially begun. But before we get caught up in both the frivolity and hysteria that define Christmas in the 21st century, it would be good to pause long enough to consider those things for which we are thankful.

Of course, you might be one of the many who ask, “Thankful? For what?” Perhaps you have lost a job during the past year – or a business. You may be hanging on professionally, but not without major adjustments. At the very least, you have seen the value of your personal investments diminish substantially – your retirement plans have probably suffered a serious setback.

Some economic experts claim the economic downturn has seen its worst and improvements are on the way, but that offers small consolation for those who are unemployed or underemployed. And such assurances do little to appease persistent bill collectors when you have fallen behind in your payments. So again it seems appropriate for some people to ask, “Thankful? For what?”

For one thing, if you accessed this “Monday Manna” on a computer, you are far ahead of millions of people who still exist without most or all of the benefits of modern technology. If you”re not lying in a hospital recovering from surgery or with some serious disease, you are more fortunate than many thousands of men, women and children. The fact you can read this e-mail message indicates you have an advantage over people without sight.

This is not to minimize or belittle the challenges and struggles we all have encountered during this year in one respect or another. But it helps to have perspective, not focusing on those things we do not have, but choosing instead to acknowledge and appreciate the benefits and blessings we do have. The Bible offers suggestions on how we can be thankful, even during difficult times:

Show thankfulness through your work. Work is an important part of our lives and calling as members of humankind. Regardless of our abilities and talents, we each can make important contributions to the world around us through our work. “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17).

Express thankfulness for your difficulties. In the midst of hardship and adversity, we often gain our greatest lessons. A truism of life is we usually learn more through failure than from success. “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that sufferings produce perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4).

Offer thankfulness – regardless of your circumstances. Believing in a God that is not distant, but personally interested and involved in each of us, requires trusting that He is in control of even small details of our lives – both the good and the not-so-good. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been 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).

If this year has been one of the best of your life, you can rejoice and be thankful for that. Even if this year has been hard, faith in God can offer reassurance that He has not forgotten you – and has a plan for your life.

Robert J. Tamasy is vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit corporation based in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. A veteran of 38 years in professional journalism, he is the author of Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today”s Workplace and has coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring: 10 Proven Principles for Developing People to Their Fullest Potential. For more information, see www.leaderslegacy.com or www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

Reflection/Discussion Questions
Looking back over this year so far, do you feel thankful? Why or why not? What have been your greatest challenges this year? What have been some of your greatest joys or sources of happiness? Have you ever considered how you conduct yourself at work and utilize your talents, skills and experiences ways of showing thankfulness? Explain your answer. How is it possible for God to “in all things work for the good of those who love him,” especially if their circumstances have involved great pain and suffering? Can you think of any times like that personally when you could truly feel thankful, even if only through the vision of hindsight?NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to review some other passages that relate to this topic, consider the following verses:
Psalm 7:17, 9:1-2, 69:30-31; Jeremiah 29:11-13; Daniel 2:23; Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 4:19

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