It’s funny that I keep finding new favourite books as I read my Bible regularly. Today I started James and this little bubble of joy perked up inside me, it’s making me smile even now. You might wonder why when I share the first few verses because it’s not what one might expect to make you smile.
2-4 Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing.
Why, you might ask, does advice to embrace trials and hardships make me smile? Because of the second part and because of what I wrote yesterday and on Saturday and because of what God is teaching me day by day. Our pastor said something profound on Sunday, he was teaching about the power of the Resurrection and said, “This life is not what you think it is”. He was absolutely correct. We look at life and get caught up in problems and pleasures, in situations and circumstances over which we often have no or little control and we get overwhelmed. We spend our time working to make money to live and get caught up in the treadmill so that instead of working to live we live to work. We search for someone (or something) to fill the hole we feel inside and try to stretch a mortal-sized thing into an immortal sized space.
We were made for so much more than what we settle for and James is telling us not to get distracted by either the good things in life nor the bad – both of which can be trials and hardships depending on which deceit we are tempted by – but to concentrate on God. Facing the temptations, the problems, the pains but looking over them to God who overshadows all those things is the answer. We need to see that although we live here and now, although we are most certainly in this world and its issues we are also part of another world. That other world is the one that is going to last forever. We are caught between the two and we have to choose do we live by faith or by sight?
5 If you don’t have all the wisdom needed for this journey, then all you have to do is ask God for it; and God will grant all that you need. He gives lavishly and never scolds you for asking. 6 The key is that your request be anchored by your single-minded commitment to God. Those who depend only on their own judgment are like those lost onthe seas, carried away by any wave or picked up by any wind. 7 Those adrift on their own wisdom shouldn’t assume the Lord will rescue them or bring them anything. 8 The splinter of divided loyalty shatters your compass and leaves you dizzy and confused.
I say it a lot but that’s because it is true; tried and tested by many people for centuries: God provides all we need. Verse 8 explains what happens when we say that’s true with our mouths but then say it’s not true with our lives. We get confused. James is encouraging us to put our lives where our mouths are and live what we say we believe. He’s also telling us it’ll be worth it in the end.
Life isn’t what I think it is. Time to get my thinking straight.