Are you looking for a change in your life? Something to dramatically change your life?
The New Testament book of James gives us some advice. Now, most reformed scholars agree it was James the brother of Jesus (the natural son of both Mary and Joseph) who wrote this book. He was very prominent in the New Testament church.
James grew up with Jesus, was converted after Jesus’ resurrection, immediately began working with the apostles, and became the presiding elder of the Jerusalem church.
James’ position in the church makes it very probable he wrote this book. So, it is safe to say James knew what he was talking about!
In James 1:1-5, he says, “My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.”
James tells us to “consider it nothing by joy” because trials infused with faith results in perseverance, and perseverance develops a thoroughly mature Christian who lacks nothing.
But how do we do that? How do we face trials with joy?
James wrote, “If any of you lacks wisdom, ask God.” We usually ask (pray) for strength, or grace, or even deliverance when going through trials. But James says we should pray for wisdom so we will not waste the opportunities to mature.
The truth is, our lives would dramatically change if we saw our hardships, our sufferings, our trials as something God could use to help us have a deeper faith, and as something God could use for some greater good in this world.
We have been going through a lot lately as a community, nation and world. The pandemic has caused not only life and death concerns but also economic, political, and societal unrest.
Around the world Afghanistan is falling apart, Haiti is under another disaster, and the border crisis is getting worse. Not to mention what might be happening to each of us on an individual level and with your own families!
May we today ask for the wisdom to see how our faith can grow (even during trials) and to see how God can somehow miraculously use all that is happening for some kind of good in the world.
I think James would tell us, “Brothers and Sisters, whatever you are going through – don’t waste it!”
Rev. Dr. William Ward is the senior pastor at Providence Presbyterian Church on Hilton Head Island.