1From James, a servant of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Greetings to the twelve tribes scattered all over the world.
2My friends, be glad, even if you have a lot of trouble.3You know that you learn to endure by having your faith tested.4But you must learn to endure everything, so that you will be completely mature and not lacking in anything.
5If any of you need wisdom, you should ask God, and it will be given to you. God is generous and won’t correct you for asking.6But when you ask for something, you must have faith and not doubt. Anyone who doubts is like an ocean wave tossed around in a storm.7-8If you are that kind of person, you can’t make up your mind, and you can’t be trusted. So don’t expect the Lord to give you anything at all.
9Any of God’s people who are poor should be glad that he thinks so highly of them.10But any who are rich should be glad when God makes them humble. Rich people will disappear like wild flowers11scorched by the burning heat of the sun. The flowers lose their blossoms, and their beauty is destroyed. That is how the rich will disappear, as they go about their business.
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by life circumstances and wondered, “Why is this happening to me?” Recent events have shocked you. Chronic conditions are not resolved. Stress and tension have pressed in on you. The circumstances of life afford us unparalleled opportunities to trust God. In fact, without trials it is impossible for our faith to mature.
The key words in the first twelve verses of James’ letter are trial/testing/temptation—all the same word in Greek, the language in which this letter was originally written. The passage opens and closes with them (verses 2 and 12). It carries in it the idea of outward trial or testing, and when used as a verb it describes a fledgling bird testing its wings. James is talking particularly about the infinite variety of trials we go through that are external in nature and unexpected in arrival. Is it possible that the trials and testing of this life can actually give you greater strength, rather than sap your strength? Is it possible that in the midst of circumstances that stretch your faith you can feel yourself soaring to a new level of intimacy with God? Yes, but we need wisdom.
Wisdom is the key to knowing how to navigate through circumstances. If we are not careful, we can choose to understand God from the perspective of the circumstances we are in. There are few things in life more disorienting than that. Faith seeks to understand circumstances from God’s perspective. God does not scold us, belittle us, or resent us for asking him for wisdom. In fact, he encourages us to do it! Such wisdom begins with us praying. In the intimacy of communion with God, we are granted spiritual insight that draws us close to God and unveils to us his character and his limitless grace.
God our wisdom, You thrill to have your people talk to you because you love us. Give us a fresh perspective on our circumstances. Thank you for giving us another opportunity to trust you. Help us use the events of our life to plunge deeper into you. Through Jesus our safety, Amen.