Wow, this morning’s devotion or S.O.A.P. reading is James chapter one. What a chapter, it is packed full of good stuff and some hard teachings. The Message Bible says in the first verse, “Hello, Faith under pressure”. For someone looking at this chapter through the eyes of human strength, they might say it is impossible to do what is asked here. One might ask, “What is this? I’m supposed to be grateful and see the trials, pressures, and stress in my life as a gift or a joy?” But with God all things are possible-Matthew 19:26
James also tells us not only to count it as joy or a gift, but to endure it and not try to get out of it prematurely! Why? Scripture tells us that it will make us into well-developed, mature people lacking nothing. Does this seem impossible or too hard to do, especially if you are in the middle of a trial today? I know I have felt it was at times in my life!
The second verse says “Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials,” Notice it doesn’t say if you experience it but whenever you experience it. We all undergo times in our life where we struggle and suffer through trials that come our way. There are just things that happen to us that are beyond our control and when these come our way, we have a choice to make. Will I become a victim to my circumstances and possibly become embittered by what is going on? or Will I rise above what is going on and become a better person because of it? Now I am not saying that we should ignore it or pretend that we are not suffering or struggling, what I am suggesting is that we acknowledge what is going on and look to our Loving Heavenly Father, and ask for the wisdom that is offered in verse 5. We can also ask what we can learn from what is happening and how we can deal effectively with what is happening. If we are believers in Jesus Christ (In Christ), we have the gift of the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us. God is with us all the time; He knows what is going on in our life! Second Peter 1:3-4 tells us,” For His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires.”
When we were given the Holy Spirit, we were given everything we need to live a godly life. When life throws me stressful curves, I certainly haven’t always known or believed this. Over the years, when the really big challenges or the loss of loved ones has come, I have learned that my first response needs to be to go to my Heavenly Father and ask for wisdom and trust Him. He has promised to never leave or forsake us and He is faithful! When I have tried to take things into my own hands without His wisdom or help, it has proven disastrous. When I go to Him first, things will work out much better and if I allow Him, He will use it to make me a better person. Basically, when life throws me a curve that seeks to overwhelm me, I have to take a time-out or pause. I then have to choose to be intentional and not immediately react to the circumstance that is challenging me because if I react immediately, nine times out of ten, I will get myself into deeper trouble! This is a time we need to seek God’s wisdom, ask ourselves if we brought on the problem, if not is there something God wants to show us or teach us through what is going on.
Looking back on life, there have been so many times that I couldn’t understand the purpose of this trial or that one. However, now in hind sight I can say without a doubt that God has used each one of the trials to grow me and stretch my faith! Things in life that would have overwhelmed me in the past no longer stir up fear or offense like they did before. It has taught me to face fear head on, to depend on God’s faithfulness and trust Him more with each trial I have encountered. God is no respecter of persons, and what He has done for one of His children, He will do for all but it is up to us to seek Him, His counsel, and His wisdom through prayer and the Word of God! Then we believe what He speaks to us, not doubting as verse 6 tells us. If we find our faith wavering we can pray, “I do believe! Help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24b). Our God is strong and powerful and He can and will honor our honesty in this. After all, He already knows our hearts and every word we say before it has reached our tongue. Nothing is hidden from Him.
Ephesians 3:20-21 (Holman Christian Standard Bible) Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think —according to the power that works in you— to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.