2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
A number of years ago when I was leading a group of high school guys through some discipleship stuff this was the passage that we were memorizing together. 12 years later they will come up to me from time to time and still be able to say this passage. It is a powerful passage because it helps to give us perspective on life and all the “adventures” we will encounter along the way. I’m going to comment on a few words that stand out to me.
Consider: So the deal is that we will ALL face difficulties along the way. Some will be minor and some will be major. Our first reactions to any adversity – because of our human nature – is to a) whine about it and b) “why” about it. We whine about it to other people hoping to gain their sympathy and I think often hoping the whining will make us feel better. It usually doesn’t. We question God and wonder why is this happening to me and remind Him that this isn’t what we signed up for. When actually it is.
As believers, James is telling us that we need to get some perspective. We need to THINK and recognize that God is in the tough times as much as He is in the good times. Consider! Consider the fact that God may be up to something. Consider the fact that God might want to use a tough experience in your life to make you more like Him. Consider the fact that God might allow you to go through difficulties so that you will be able to help others go through difficulties. Consider the fact it is not about you it is about Him and He is infinitely trustworthy even when things are not going the way that we want them to.
Joy: And He says that we can actually experience joy in the middle of these trials. The only way this can happen is that if we understand that God is up to something in our life and we trust Him to take us through the tough times knowing He is using them for our good and for His glory.
Perseverance: There is a doctrine for the Church known as “Perseverance of the Saints” – it refers to the fact that once you are saved you will always be saved and cannot lose your salvation. But what does it mean. Does it mean that if you say a prayer when you are six and then live like hell the rest of your life that you are still saved? No! What it means is this – those who persevere are the true saints of God. In other words, the difficulties in life are what God uses to help us recognize if our faith is sincere or not. Those who continue to cling to God when life is tough can be assured that they belong to God. Those who walk away from the faith when life is tough – blaming God and questioning even His existence – never had true saving faith to begin with.
So faith-filled believers recognize that trials are not only a litmus test to prove if our faith is genuine but also see them as God’s means to mature us and make us stronger in the faith.
Ask: God has no problem with us asking Him what he is up to. In fact he welcomes our questions when we don’t understand. But He wants us to come to Him humbly not grumbly. He wants us to come to Him not doubting that He knows what’s best but trusting that He has our best interest in mind and if we stay the course we will understand His ways in due time. “In due time” unfortunately is not according to our timetable. That’s why it is called…. faith!
So this week no matter what you might be dealing with, take some time to thank God that He is in control and ask Him to deepen your faith and strengthen you with His joy even while the going is rough – knowing that He wants you to be mature and complete on the day of His appearing.
I’m just sayin’!
Next Week’s Passage: Luke 11:1-13
Next Week’s Memory Verse: Luke 11:9
(If you want to get e-mail notification of when I have a new post then click on the subscription box to the left.)