患難的益處

By: Robert J. Tamasy

你的事業最近做得如何?或者你的工作是否順利?可能你現在正在掙扎,對未來無法確定。即使你現在的情況看起來非常好,可能你在過去幾年已面對了嚴厲的挑戰。在某種方式上,患難已變成每個人的同伴。

患難不是我們所尋求的。事實上,我們一向都把患難視為我們做錯事的結果。若我們努力工作,按照規矩行事,以智慧經營,然後我們的報酬應該是成功,而非患難。至少我們喜歡這麼相信。

然而實際上,患難可能是最好的老師。我永遠不會忘記幾年前遇見一位年輕的商人,他遭遇各種形式的種族歧視。他可能會變得苦毒且憤怒,但他選擇以正向的態度去回應這患難。他常說這句座右銘:「謝謝你,患難。」

面對患難幫助他發展堅強的個性。這也提醒他自己的缺點,他沒有能力掌控周圍的環境。最後這認知驅使他與上帝有深刻並改變生命的關係。不論是處理艱難的現實狀況或個人及專業上的成功,他發現一個簡單的真理:「我靠著那加給我力量的,凡事都能作」(腓立比書4章13節)。

我們在工商專業界的許多人都習慣倚賴各種資源:銀行、重要的幹部、妥善構思的目標、策略性的計畫、經驗與專業技術、個人的財務。我們對自己能「自力更生」感到驕傲。但有時我們必須承認即使我們盡了全力且用盡了所有我們可找到的資源,還是無法克服我們所面臨的障礙。在這種時候,我常想起耶穌的教訓:「離了我,你們就不能作什麼」(約翰福音15章5節)。

所以我們如何能把患難視為朋友,而非敵人?聖經提供了以下的建議:

患難建立信心並培養堅忍。就像運動員增加重量以建立身體的力量,生命中的困難--不論在工作上或生活中--也能強化我們的靈性。「我的弟兄們,你們落在百般試煉中,都要以為大喜樂;因為知道你們的信心經過試驗,就生忍耐。但忍耐也當成功,使你們成全、完備,毫無缺欠」(雅各書1章2-4節)。

患難使人有盼望。我們可以希望生意興旺或經濟更好,但卻發現自己的能力有限,無法帶來我們所希望的改變。但我們的盼望若放在上帝的恩典、愛與主權中--甚至去影響我們的職場--我們就能經歷到平安與喜樂。「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;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」(羅馬書5章3-5節)。

患難提醒我們誰真正掌權。在這可看見、實際的工作世界裡,我們很容易忽略上帝的關心與參與。聖經向我們保證祂的主權--掌管--且會實現祂神聖的計畫。「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章28節)。

勞勃.泰默西是領袖資產協會的交通部副部長,這是一個總部在美國喬治亞州亞特蘭大的非營利組織。他也是一個有38年經驗的退休新聞工作者。他寫過一本書「最佳狀態的商業:箴言給今日職場的歷久彌新智慧」(Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today”s Workplace)。他也與David A. Stoddard合著一本書「導師之心:啟發人們將其潛能發揮到極至的10個原則」(The Heart of Mentoring: 10 Proven Principles for Developing People to Their Fullest Potential)。要了解更多資訊, 可上網www.leaderslegacy.com 或上他的部落格www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com 。

思想 / 討論題目
你會如何描述你目前的生活或工作?都很順利嗎?若否,你正面對什麼樣的患難? 面對成功似乎很容易,但遭遇患難時我們如何回應是對我們品格的真正測試。你一向都如何回應患難? 當你回顧你的生命,你可否想到有一次就像文中的那個商人,你可以誠實地說:「謝謝你,患難。」?請解釋。 本文作者說若我們有合宜的觀點,我們可以(也應該)把患難視為朋友而非敵人。你是否同意這主張?為什麼?依你的看法,在患難中上帝站在哪裡?註:若你有聖經且想要看有關此主題的其他經文,請看:
箴言16章9節,19章21節,20章24節,27章21節;羅馬書8章35-39節;哥林多前書1章3-7節


ADVANTAGES OF ADVERSITY

By: Robert J. Tamasy

How is your business doing right now? Or your career? Perhaps you are struggling, uncertain about the future. Even if your situation appears to be going very well now, chances are you have faced serious challenges at some point during the past few years. Adversity has become everyone”s companion in one way or another.

Adversity is not something we seek. In fact, we typically view adversity as the consequence of something we have done wrong. If we are working hard, playing by the rules, operating with wisdom, then prosperity – not adversity – should be our reward. At least we like to believe that.

The truth is, however, adversity can be an excellent tutor. I will never forget meeting a businessman years ago who as a young person had encountered racial prejudice in many forms. Gerald could have become embittered and angry, but chose instead to respond to this adversity in a positive manner. In fact, he adopted a motto that he repeated often: “Thank you for adversity.”

Facing adversity helped him to develop strong character. It also reminded him of his own weakness, his inability to control circumstances that surrounded him. Ultimately this awareness drove him to a deep, life-changing relationship with God. Whether dealing with harsh realities or handling personal and professional successes, Gerald discovered a simple truth: “I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).

Many of us in the business and professional world are accustomed to relying on a variety of resources: banks; key staff members; well-conceived goals; strategic plans; experience and expertise; personal finances. We pride ourselves at “pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps.” Yet at times we must concede even our best efforts – and all of the resources we can muster – are not enough to overcome the obstacles we confront. At times like these, I have often remembered Jesus” admonition: “Apart from Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

So how can we embrace adversity as a friend, rather than an adversary? The Bible offers these suggestions:

Adversity builds faith and fosters endurance. Just as a person uses increasingly heavy weights to build physical strength, difficulties in life – where we work and where we live – can serve to strengthen us spiritually. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).

Adversity establishes reliable hope. We can hope for increased business or an improved economy, but find ourselves limited in what we can do to bring about desired changes. When our hope ultimately rests on the grace, love and sovereignty of God – even to influence what transpires in our workplaces – we can experience peace and joy. “…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:3-5).

Adversity reminds us of who is truly in control. In the visible, pragmatic work world, we can easily ignore God”s involvement and interest in what transpires. The Bible assures us He is sovereign – in control – and will carry out His divine plans. “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).

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 more than 38 years in professional journalism, he is the author of Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today”s Workplace (River City Press) and has coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring: 10 Proven Principles for Developing People to Their Fullest Potential (NavPress). For more information, see www.leaderslegacy.com or his blog, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

Reflection/Discussion Questions
How would you describe your life – or work – in general right now? Are things going well? If not, what kinds of adversity are you currently facing? Handling success seems easy, but how we react when faced with adversity is a true test of character. How do you typically respond to adversity? Can you think of a time in your life, perhaps in retrospect, when like Gerald, the businessman described in this “Monday Manna,” you could honestly say, “Thank you for adversity”? Explain your answer. Do you agree with the contention that if we have the proper perspective, we can – and should – view adversity as a friend rather than an adversary? Why or why not? Where, in your view, does God fit into the equation?NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to review additional passages that relate to this topic, consider the following verses: Proverbs 16:9, 19:21, 20:24, 27:21; Romans 8:35-39; 1 Corinthians 1:3-7

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