了解喜樂不意味著是快樂──UNDERSTANDING THAT JOY MIGHT NOT MEAN HAPPINESS

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在美國的《獨立宣言》中提到,每個人都應該有追求快樂 (Happiness)的權利。然而,這並不能保證我們可以期待永遠的快樂,也無法保證那快樂本身是權利,或是我們應該花很多時間去追求的東西。

快樂和「發生」密切相關 – 也就是現在正在發生的事情。贏得重要比賽或獲得工作晉升,可能會讓我們感到快樂,失去工作或遭遇車禍,可能會讓我們不快樂。現在發生的事情 – 或者兩分鐘後可能發生的事情 – 都會大大地改變我們是否快樂。

也因為這樣的原因,快樂不應該與喜樂產生混淆。喜樂是一種內心的狀態,一種個性特質,也是我們內裡的一部份。與快樂不同的是,喜樂不會依賴於當前或不斷變化的環境。我們可能對現在生活中發生的事情感到不快樂,但仍然能繼續經歷超越任何負面因素或影響的喜樂。

我們可能認為快樂就像天氣(weather)一樣,每天甚至每小時都在變化。而喜樂更像是氣候(climate),變化的時間可能很長,轉變緩慢,而且常常不被注意。喜樂與樂觀有關,喜樂的態度會影響我們對環境的反應。例如,我們輸了一場棒球比賽,我們可能會不快樂,但存在於內裡的喜樂,會讓我們不管結果如何,都能享受比賽的樂趣。如果我們唯一的目標只是贏或輸,我們就會非常快樂或非常不快樂,因為都取決於結果。然而,喜樂的精神會緩和高潮和低谷,讓我們在任何情況下都能找到更多的滿足感。

無法確定來源的不快樂應該作為我們的警示燈。把不快樂想像成類似於我們汽車儀表板上的「檢查引擎」信號燈。它可能不表示任何嚴重的事情,它可能只是一個警告,表示我們正在讓周圍的情況控制著我們的心思意念。

如果我們在工作中總是不快樂,這或許是表示該找一份新工作,或至少尋找新目標或工作方式的時候了。短期的不快樂,好像天氣,是意料之中的,事情並不總是如我們所願。但長期的不快樂則需要注意。有趣的是,聖經很少談到快樂,卻對喜樂有很多著墨。事實上,它告訴我們在順境和逆境中都能找到喜樂:

喜樂從逆境中生出來。沒有人願意尋求苦難和艱辛,但它可以非常有效地塑造個人品格。「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章3-4節)
喜樂來自堅定的信心。充滿挑戰的時代,尤其是明顯超出我們所能控制範圍的時代,正是我們的信念和信心真正存在的地方。「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)
即使快樂消失了,喜樂依然存在。有時生活中的快樂似乎已經永遠拋棄了我們,但是透過對上帝的信心,我們可以抓住只有祂才能給予的喜樂。「耶和華的聖民哪,你們要歌頌他,稱讚他可記念的聖名。因為,他的怒氣不過是轉眼之間;他的恩典乃是一生之久。一宿雖然有哭泣,早晨便必歡呼。」(詩篇30章4-5節)

©2022 Jim Mathis是堪薩斯州歐弗蘭帕克的作家,攝影師和企業主。他的最新著作是《駱駝和針The Camel and the Needle》,《基督徒看財富和金錢A Christian Looks at Wealth and Money》。他曾任堪薩斯州堪薩斯城和密蘇里州堪薩斯城的CBMC咖啡店經理和執行理事。

備註:如果你有聖經想閱讀更多內容,請考慮以下經文:
詩篇 16篇11節
16:11 你必將生命的道路指示我。在你面前有滿足的喜樂;在你右手中有永遠的福樂。
詩篇 126篇5-6節
126:5 流淚撒種的,必歡呼收割!
126:6 那帶種流淚出去的,必要歡歡樂樂地帶禾捆回來!
以賽亞書 12章1-2節
12:1 到那日,你必說:耶和華啊,我要稱謝你!因為你雖然向我發怒,你的怒氣卻已轉消;你又安慰了我。
12:2 看哪! 神是我的拯救;我要倚靠他,並不懼怕。因為主耶和華是我的力量,是我的詩歌,他也成了我的拯救。
哥林多後書4章17節
4:17 我們這至暫至輕的苦楚,要為我們成就極重無比、永遠的榮耀。
帖撒羅尼迦前書 5章16-18節
5:16 要常常喜樂,
5:17 不住地禱告,
5:18 凡事謝恩;因為這是 神在基督耶穌裏向你們所定的旨意。

反省與問題討論

  1. 你如何定義「快樂」?而你又如何定義「喜樂」呢?
  2. 你是否同意快樂不應該和喜樂混淆,有時甚至它們可能是互斥的說法嗎?請解釋你的答案?
  3. 你能想出一個雖然感到非常不快樂,但無視當時的環境,內心深處依然有喜樂的時候?如果有,請解釋當時的情況以及它是如何影響你的?
  4. 聖經告訴我們,當面對生活中嚴峻的考驗時要「喜樂」或「單單喜樂」?你對這個告誡如何回應?這些年來,你對這個命令的看法是否有任何改變?如果有,那是怎樣的改變呢?


UNDERSTANDING THAT JOY MIGHT NOT MEAN HAPPINESS

By Jim Mathis

The United States’ Declaration of Independence says that every person should have the right to pursue happiness. This does not guarantee, however, that we should expect to always be happy or even that happiness, in itself, is a right or something we should spend a lot of time pursuing. 

Happiness is closely related to happening – what is happening now. Winning the big game or getting a job promotion might make us happy. Losing our job or having a car wreck might make us unhappy. What is happening now – or what may happen two minutes from now – can dramatically alter our happiness.

For this reason, happiness should not be confused with joy. Joy is a condition of the heart, a character trait, and part of who we are inwardly. Unlike happiness, joy is not dependent upon the current or changing circumstances. We might feel unhappy about what is going on in our lives now, and yet continue to experience joy that transcends any negative factors or influences.

We might think of happiness as being like the weather. Weather changes daily, even hourly. Joy is more like climate. The change can be long, progress slowly, and often goes unnoticed. Joy can be related to optimism. A joyful attitude will affect how we react to circumstances. For example, if we lose a baseball game, we might be unhappy, but underlining joy will allow us to enjoy playing the game anyway. If our only goal is winning or losing, we be very happy or very unhappy depending upon the outcome. A joyful spirit, however, will temper the highs and lows and allow us to find more contentment in any situation. 

A sense of unhappiness whose source we cannot identify should serve as a warning light for us. Think of unhappiness as similar to the “Check Engine” light on our car dashboard. It might not indicate anything serious, or it could be a warning that we are allowing situations around us to control our thoughts.  

If we are constantly unhappy at work, maybe that indicates it is time to find a new job or at least our goals or approach to how we work. Short-term unhappiness, like the weather, is expected. Things do not always go our way. But long-term unhappiness requires attention. Interestingly, the Bible says little about happiness, but has much to say about joy. In fact, it tells us joy can be found during good times and bad:

Joy comes through adversity. No one willing seeks suffering and hardship, but it can be a very effective builder of personal character. “…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4).

Joy comes from strengthened faith. Challenging times, especially those clearly beyond our control, reveal where our trust and faith truly lie. “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).

Joy endures even when happiness flees. There are times in life when it seems that happiness has abandoned us forever, and yet through faith in God we can hold fast to joy that only He can provide. “Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:4-5).

© 2022. Jim Mathis is a writer, photographer and small business owner in Overland Park, Kansas. His latest book is The Camel and the Needle, A Christian Looks at Wealth and Money. He formerly was executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A.

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  1. How would you define “happiness”? How would you define “joy”?  
  2. Do you agree with the statement that happiness should not be confused with joy, and that at times they might even be mutually exclusive? Why or why not?
  3. Can you think of a time when you felt great unhappiness, but despite the circumstances you still felt a sense of profound inner joy? If so, explain the situation and how it affected you.
  4. The Bible tells us to rejoice, or to “consider it pure joy” when we confront severe trials in life? How do you react to this admonition? Has your perspective on this command changed in any way over the years? If so, how?

NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages: Psalm 16:11, 126:5-6; Isaiah 12:1-2; Corinthians 4:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


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