9/6/2020 Replacing your boredom with Joy (把喜樂取代無聊)

by Rev. Benjamin Chung (鍾立恆牧師)

Recently, professor of Clinical Psychology Richard A Friedman wrote an article in the New York Times addressing the question of whether “a patient is depressed or merely bored?” An interesting question. For starters, depression is a clinical diagnosis and therefore a fee can be charged. If someone is merely “bored” then no fee should be charged. The reason for bringing this up is that more and more people are claiming to have depression during the Shelter in Place. But the psychologist believes that this is a misdiagnosis. He asks, “What if we’re just bored out of our minds?”

This could very much be the issue. As Christians, we should also be aware of this potential boredom, which is actually a more modern invention. The word boredom didn’t even enter into our vocabulary until the mid-19th century. This means we should be wary of what boredom entails. On the one hand, because some of us have extra time we have wisely applied that time into a host of hobbies. Why not? I am certain a lot of us have many bucket lists and now we’re able to actually complete them. On the other hand, are we finding things to do, simply because we are “bored”? Friedman writes, “67% of men and 25% of women found being alone with their own thoughts so unpleasant that they chose negative stimulation over no stimulation.” What this means is that we are under a constant trend today to be entertained and distracted. Some, to the point of self-destructive behaviors.

As believers, we need to take note of this observation and of what this might mean to us spiritually. For instance, I am finding myself reading a lot of news about local & national politics and world affairs. More recently, the fires have added another news point to research as there are now two health reasons to not go outside. And yet, I need to be spending even more time in prayer for our church, for the world, and simply to converse with the God of the Universe. Why am I not doing that more, I ask myself? Because I’m also “bored”. And I should not be. I need to remember that the God of the heavens is at my fingertips. I can interact with him at a moment’s notice and what He can do dwarfs anything else that could possibly entertain me, for any period of time. Even eating and drinking should not take precedence over the excitement we should have in the LORD. Paul even says to the Romans in 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

Wow! Let’s consider what really matters, which is the joy we have in the LORD. He’s the one who gives us “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4). The one who gives us such good and eternal gifts should be the center of our attention. Let’s continue to shift our focus from boredom to joy!


最近,臨床心理學教授Richard A Friedman 在紐約時報上發表了一篇文章,探討了「病人究竟是沮喪抑或僅僅是無聊?」這是個有趣的問題。 對於初哥來說,由於抑鬱症是一種臨床診斷,因而需付診金。然而某人如果只是「無聊」,則不必收取任何費用。 之所以提出這一點,是因為越來越多的人聲稱在這段居家隔離期間患有抑鬱症。 但是心理學家卻認為這是一 種誤診。 他提出以下的問題:「如果我們只是無聊該怎麼辦?」

這很可能才是問題的所在。 作為基督徒我們該意識到這種潛在的無聊感。實際上無聊這名詞是個現代發明。 直到19 世紀中葉,「無聊」這個詞才出現在我們的英語詞彙裡。 這提醒了我們應該警惕到無聊所會帶來的種種後果。 一方面來說,由於有了多餘的時間,我們當中有好些人因而明智地運用這段時間在很多的嗜好裡。 這又有何不好呢? 我敢肯定,我們當中有很多人都擁有一張又一張平生夢想單(bucket list),現在我們終於可以完成它們了。 另一方面,我們是否只是因為我們「無聊」而發掘事情來做?Friedman 指出:「有 67%的男性和25%的女性發現一個人的時候會感到自己的思緒甚不愉快,以至於他們寧可選擇尋找負面的刺激給自己,而非選擇靜止下來。」 這表示我們今天處於的趨勢是要求一種持續不斷要享受娛樂和要被打擾的狀態。 有些人甚至會去選擇做一些自毀性的行為。

作為信徒,我們需要留心這些觀察,並且思想究竟這些對我們的靈命有什麼的意義。舉個例子吧,我發現自己最近常花時間在閱讀許多有關地方政府以至全國與及世界各地的新聞。最近的大火更成為我研究新聞的時候增添了另一個新焦點,現在有兩個健康理由令我如今不能外出了。但是,我其實應花更多的時間為我們的教會祈禱,為全世界祈禱,與宇宙之神交談。我問自己,為什麼我沒有做更多應做的事情呢?只因我也有「無聊」時。我的確不該如此。我需緊記天上的上帝其實近在我指尖之間。我可以馬上與祂交通,因祂在何時何刻都能做到任何使我開懷的事。我們須緊記不能喧賓奪主,即使得享美食時也不應以此居首,能與耶和華同在才是應感到興奮的事。保羅甚至在14:17 中捉醒羅馬人:「因為神的國不在乎吃喝,只在乎公義、和平,並聖靈中的喜樂。」

噢! 讓我們思考什麼才是真正重要的事吧,那就是我們在主內所享的喜樂。祂就是讓我們得著「不能朽壞、不能玷污、不能衰殘、為你們存留在天上的基業」(彼得前書1:4)的那位。賜給我們如此美好和永恆禮物的神才是我們應注目的焦點。 讓我們繼續把注意力從無聊轉回到喜樂吧!

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