對神信實的疑惑

你是否曾有這樣的感覺:你對神一直很忠心和順服,但不知道為什麼,祂並沒有以恩寵回報你? 坦白的說,我曾經很多年有這樣的感覺。我禱告並且嘗試去做我相信神要我從事的呼召,但是我所付出的辛勞卻跟我所期待的卻差的老遠。每一件事都是那麼困難,成果也都那麼微小。

有一天我跟妻子透露我的挫折,她建議我寫下過去十多年來,神向我們表達信實的一些方式。特別是列出那些我所不能掌控,但卻顯現出神在我生命中動工的事。當我列下的事超過十件時,我看見這些事的模式:十件事當中有九件事是跟人以及關係有關的。大部分我所看到的神的工作是,祂帶領一些我意想不到的人來到我生命當中。祂用不尋常的方式介紹新朋友給我、帶領我到可以解決問題的人那裡、或即時帶來一些鼓勵和教導我的人。

舉例來說,我一直以來都很想唱歌,但是每次的嘗試都得不太到很多的鼓勵,很顯然的,我應該是不大會唱歌。有天,我妻子建議我考慮請一個聲樂教練,幾天後我就遇到一個很傑出的歌手。在幾乎沒有考慮的狀況下,我問她是否有開班授課,並在隔週我就開始上課。她顯然是一位很棒的老師,因為三年之後我不需猶豫就能在大庭廣眾下唱歌,還常常得到很溫暖的讚賞呢!神在最恰當的時刻帶了最適合的人到我的生命中,來實現我心中的渴望。

而在我經營咖啡店的七年當中,常常會有人問我,去哪裡找到那麼好的員工?我必須承認,是神在最恰當的時刻帶了最適合的人來。因為我們真的沒辦法靠自己的聰明去做那些僱人的決定。

在過去幾年的時光中,一些很棒的事,都跟神在最恰當的時間帶領了一些很特別的人到我的生命中有關。我所參與的樂團在基要聖經信息的溝通上很辛苦,然而神卻精心地安排團隊中的每一個成員,在職涯的最恰當的時刻進入我們的樂團,使祂的名可以被榮耀。

在馬太福音6章:19-21節,耶穌說:「不要為自己積攢財寶在地上;地上有蟲子咬,能銹壞,也有賊挖窟窿來偷。只要積攢財寶在天上;天上沒有蟲子咬,不能銹壞,也沒有賊挖窟窿來偷。因為你的財寶在哪裏,你的心也在那裏。」我相信終極在天上的財寶是:我們的關係、友誼和用耶穌基督的愛去接觸我們週遭的人。
在每一個狀況中,我所遇到的挫折總是跟物質上的擔憂有關,就是那些我知道暫時在地上的財寶,但是神的工作卻是跟永恆的事情有關,像是人、關係和真理。

神把人擺在第一位,對祂而言物質只是次好的。以前我知道神供應我一切所需,但是我總期待一些奢侈品,結果就導致很多的挫折。而這些在我生命中出現的一長列美好的人們,卻讓我因曾經質疑神的信實而自慚形穢。

思想與討論
無論你是對神有堅強信心的人、初信者或甚至是懷疑論者,你怎麼看待「以對神的順服交換神對我們的信實」這樣的想法? 你是否曾經像本文作者一樣,認為神會獎賞你所做的,就是那些根據聖經教導而你正在做的事? 假如你能停下腳步,做個人的盤點,列下在你無能為力時發生在你生命的美善事情,你的清單會是如何的? 你覺得是否該將這些重大的發展歸功於神? 你是否發現自己對於「積存在地上的財寶」而不是「積存在天上的財寶」一事感到有罪惡感? 解釋你的答案。
注:若你有聖經且想要看有關此主題的其他經文,請看:
詩篇34章4-5節, 箴言16章:3、9節、24章4節、耶利米書29章:11節、馬太福音6章25-34節

QUESTIONING GOD”S FAITHFULNESS

By: Jim Mathis

Have you ever had the feeling that you have been faithful and obedient to God, but for whatever reason He was not returning the favor? Admittedly, that was how I had been feeling for several years. I would pray and try to do what I believed God was calling me to do, but the fruits of my labors were not matching up with what I had been expecting. Everything was too hard, and the results were too small.

One day when I expressed my frustrations to my wife, she suggested we write down some of the ways God has been faithful to us over the past 10 years or so. Specifically, she suggested I list things out of my control that had occurred, things that showed God working in my life.

As my list grew to 10 specific things, I saw an obvious pattern. Nine out of the 10 were linked to people and relationships. Most of the instances where I saw God at work involved His bringing people into my life that I had not expected. He introduced me to new friends in unusual ways; guided me to people that would help to solve problems, and brought people who would encourage and teach me at just the right time.

For example, I have always had a desire to sing, but when I would try, I never received much encouragement. Obviously, I was not very good. One day my wife suggested I consider hiring a voice coach. I few days later I met someone who was an outstanding singer. Almost without thinking, I asked if she gave vocal lessons. I started singing lessons the next week. She proved to be an excellent teacher and three years later, I am no longer hesitant to sing in public – and often receive warm compliments. God brought exactly the right person into my life at the right time to fulfill the desire of my heart.

During the seven years that I managed a coffeehouse, people would often ask where we found all the wonderful staff. I would honestly have to admit that God had brought in just the right people at the right time. We could not have been smart enough to make those hiring choices ourselves.

Other highlights of the past few years have had to do with God leading special people my way at just the right time. I play in a band that strives to communicate a biblically based message. God has orchestrated bringing each member of our group together at the right time in our careers so He would be glorified.

In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus said, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I believe ultimately the “treasures in heaven” are our relationships, friendships, and things we have done to reach out to those around us with the love of Jesus Christ.

In every instance, my frustration with God related to material concerns, things that I knew were only temporary in nature – treasures on earth. His work involved permanent things like people, relationships, and truth.

God”s priorities are people; to Him, material things are only secondary at best. I knew God provides all our needs, but was still expecting to be rewarded with luxuries – the result was my frustration. The long list of wonderful people in my life makes me embarrassed to have ever doubted God”s love and faithfulness to me.

Jim Mathis is the owner of a photography studio in Overland Park, Kansas, specializing in executive, commercial and theatrical portraits. He formerly was a coffee shop manager and executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.

Reflection/Discussion Questions
Whether you are a strong believer in God, someone new to faith, or even a skeptic, what is your response to this idea of God”s faithfulness to us in exchange for our obedience to Him? Have you ever felt, like Jim Mathis, that God should be rewarding you for your actions, the things you are doing in light of what the Bible teaches? If you were to stop and take a personal inventory, listing positive things that have occurred in your life over which you had no control, what would your list look like? Do you think God should be credited for these significant developments in your life? Why or why not? Do you ever find yourself guilty of “storing up treasures on earth,” rather than “storing up treasures in heaven,” as Jesus taught? Explain your answer.If you would like to look at or discuss other portions of the Bible that relate to this topic, consider the following brief sampling of passages:

Psalm 37:4-5; Proverbs 16:3,9, 24:4; Jeremiah 29:11; Matthew 6:25-34

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