拒絕被恐懼掌控 ──REFUSING TO LET FEAR GET THE BEST OF US

MONDAY MANNA

美國的小羅斯福總統曾說過:「我們唯一要恐懼的事是恐懼本身。」有趣的是,聖經使用「不要害怕」這句話的次數比任何其他字眼都要多。恐懼可以是一種動力,但它更常讓我們一事無成。恐懼可能驅策我們採取行動,或是害我們甚麼事都做不成。但如果我們拋開恐懼,用深思熟慮而務實的態度行事,就會產生理性的行動。

加利福尼亞州奧蘭治市的查普曼大學進行了一項年度調查,詢問美國人最大的恐懼是什麼。我一直以為是害怕公開演講、對財務不安或畏懼死亡。結果有點令人驚訝。十大恐懼中只有兩項涉及金融問題。美國人最擔心的十大事件中有五件是環境問題。

「死亡」竟然排不進十大恐懼清單中!一位演講者對這項調查評價說,憂心環境議題並不合理。就好像只有害怕死亡、癌症或其他致命疾病才是真正的恐懼,污染和環境議題不值得被關注。

對我個人而言,我覺得這個調查相當鼓舞人心,因為它告訴我人們並不害怕一些政治家和電視新聞告訴我們應該害怕的事情,而能看到更大的隱憂。根據這項調查,恐懼的三大成因是教育水平低下、廣播和電視上的脫口秀,以及關於犯罪的電視節目。這顯然是這麼多人害怕犯罪、移民和自然災害等問題的根源。如果你想減少恐懼,請關掉電視前往圖書館。

我們很容易深陷於當下的恐懼。我們可以稱之為「緊急事項的獨裁統治」。專注於大局需要紀律。我和太太時常討論五年後的未來:我們想要在哪裡?我們想在這五年內做些什麼?為了達成目標,我們今天需要做些什麼來實現目標?以下是聖經教導我們為什麼「不要害怕」的原則:

請記住,我們並不孤單。當我們開始認為自己必須獨自面對生命的挑戰和問題時,可以提醒自己上帝應許會與我們同在。「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41:10)

記住我們的價值。上帝重視祂所創造的一切,其中人類的價值最為高貴。因此,我們可以信靠祂的引領和供應。「那殺身體、不能殺靈魂的,不要怕他們;惟有能把身體和靈魂都滅在地獄裏的,正要怕他。兩個麻雀不是賣一分銀子嗎?若是你們的父不許,一個也不能掉在地上……所以,不要懼怕,你們比許多麻雀還貴重!」(馬太福音10:28-31)

記住上帝有計劃。當我們害怕未來時,要確信上帝已經為我們預備了計劃,並且我們將看見上帝的旨意實現。「耶和華說:我知道我向你們所懷的意念是賜平安的意念,不是降災禍的意念,要叫你們末後有指望。」(耶利米書29:11)

當小羅斯福談到要恐懼恐懼本身時,他的意思是不要驚慌。不要讓那些致力於散播害怕的恐懼販子找到你。我們需要重新開始工作,專注於我們可以控制和影響的事情,而不是擔心我們無法控制的事情,然後相信掌權的上帝。

Jim Mathis是美國堪薩斯州歐弗蘭帕克攝影工作室的老闆,專門從事商業和戲劇肖像攝影,並經營著一所攝影學校。 他以前是密蘇里州堪薩斯城咖啡店的經理和CBMC的執行理事。

反省與問題討論

  1. 有哪些事會讓你恐懼、焦慮?
  2. 你能控制多少讓你感到害怕的事?擔心你無法控制事情的目的是什麼?
  3. 當你發現自己感到恐懼或焦慮,你曾否轉向上帝並將你的擔憂放在祂手中?請解釋你的答案。
  4. 文章引用的應許——我們並不孤單、我們極有價值、上帝對我們有計畫——中,哪個對你最有意義,或是最能幫助你克服排山倒海而來的恐懼?請解釋你的答案。

備註:如果你手上有聖經並想要閱讀更多內容,請參考以下經文:(因經文較長,考慮到篇幅和新舊約經文,您可以參閱下列未列出的經文: 列王記2:3、歷代志上22:12-13)

約書亞記1:6-9
1:6 你當剛強壯膽!因為你必使這百姓承受那地為業,就是我向他們列祖起誓應許賜給他們的地。
1:7 只要剛強,大大壯膽,謹守遵行我僕人摩西所吩咐你的一切律法,不可偏離左右,使你無論往哪裏去,都可以順利。
1:8 這律法書不可離開你的口,總要晝夜思想,好使你謹守遵行這書上所寫的一切話。如此,你的道路就可以亨通,凡事順利。
1:9 我豈沒有吩咐你嗎?你當剛強壯膽!不要懼怕,也不要驚惶;因為你無論往哪裏去,耶和華─你的 神必與你同在。」

以賽亞書43:1-7
43:1 雅各啊,創造你的耶和華,以色列啊,造成你的那位,現在如此說:你不要害怕!因為我救贖了你。我曾提你的名召你,你是屬我的。
43:2 你從水中經過,我必與你同在;你逿過江河,水必不漫過你;你從火中行過,必不被燒,火焰也不著在你身上。
43:3 因為我是耶和華─你的 神,是以色列的聖者─你的救主;我已經使埃及作你的贖價,使古實和西巴代替你。
43:4 因我看你為寶為尊;又因我愛你,所以我使人代替你,使列邦人替換你的生命。
43:5 不要害怕,因我與你同在;我必領你的後裔從東方來,又從西方招聚你。
43:6 我要對北方說,交出來!對南方說,不要拘留!將我的眾子從遠方帶來,將我的眾女從地極領回,
43:7 就是凡稱為我名下的人,是我為自己的榮耀創造的,是我所做成,所造作的。

路加福音12:32
12:32 你們這小群,不要懼怕,因為你們的父樂意把國賜給你們。

約翰一書4:12
4:12從來沒有人見過 神,我們若彼此相愛, 神就住在我們裏面,愛他的心在我們裏面得以完全了。

約翰一書4:18
4:18愛裏沒有懼怕;愛既完全,就把懼怕除去。因為懼怕裏含著刑罰,懼怕的人在愛裏未得完全。
 


REFUSING TO LET FEAR GET THE BEST OF US

By Jim Mathis

U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” It is interesting that the Bible uses the phrases, “Do not fear” and “fear not,” more than any others. Fear can be a motivator, but often it becomes a de-motivator. It can cause us to get us moving or paralyze us into doing nothing. Rational action results when we put aside fear and act in a well-thought-out and pragmatic manner.

Chapman University in Orange, California conducted an annual survey asking Americans what are their greatest fears. I always assumed it was fear of public speaking, financial insecurity, or maybe dying. So, the results were a little surprising. Only two of the top 10 fears concern financial issues; five of the top 10 things we fear most are environmental issues.

Dying did not even make the top 10! I heard a speaker comment on this survey, suggesting environmental issues are not legitimate fears. As if only the fear of dying or fear of cancer or some other dreaded disease were real fears, dismissing pollution and the environment as not being worthy of concern.

Personally, I was very encouraged by this survey because it tells me people are not as afraid of the things that some politicians and TV news tell us we ought to be afraid of, but see a bigger picture. According to this survey, the three biggest causative factors of fear are poor education; talk shows on both radio and TV, and crime TV programs. This apparently is why so many people fear things like crime, immigration, and natural disasters. If you want to be less fearful, turn off the TV and go to the library.

It is easy to get trapped by the fear of the day. We could term it, “the tyranny of the urgent.” It takes discipline to stay focused on the big picture. My wife and I are always talking about five years from now: Where do we want to be and what do we want to be doing in five years? With these things in mind, what do we need to be doing today to get there? Here are a few things the Scriptures teach about why we should “fear not”:

Remember we are not alone. When we start thinking we must face life’s challenges and problems alone, we can remind ourselves that God promises to be with us. “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).

Remember how we are valued. God places value on everything He has created, but the highest value by far is humankind. Because of this, we can trust in His guidance and provision. “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill to soul. Rather be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Ye not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father…. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:28-31).

Remember God has a plan. When we feel fearful of what lies ahead, we have the assurance that God has His plans prepared for us and will see that they are fulfilled. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11).

When Roosevelt talked about fearing fear, he meant do not panic. Do not let those fear-mongers who devote themselves to spreading fear get to you. We need to get back to work, focusing on things we can control and affect, rather than worrying about things we cannot control. Then trust in God who is in control.

© 2019. Jim Mathis is the owner of a photography studio in Overland Park, Kansas, specializing in executive, commercial and theatrical portraits, and operates a school of photography. He formerly was a coffee shop manager and executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  1. What are some of the things that cause fear and anxiety for you?
  2. How many of these things that cause you to feel afraid can you control? What is the purpose in worrying about things you cannot control?
  3. When you find yourself feeling fearful or anxious, do you ever find yourself turning to God and placing your concerns into His hands? Why or why not?
  4. Which of the promises cited – we are not alone; we are highly valued, and God has a plan for each of us – is most meaningful or helpful for you in overcoming the fears that threaten to overwhelm us? Explain your answer.

NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:

Joshua 1:6-9; 1 Kings 2:3; 1 Chronicles 22:12-13; Isaiah 43:1-7; Luke 12:32; 1 John 4:12,18

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