back to basics in James: trials

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

James 1:2-8

James is a great book in getting back to down to earth, practical, feet on the ground basics. In it is wisdom for life, right where we live from day to day.

We have our favorite places we tend to go back to in Scripture, and the passage above is a go to for many of us, and for good reason. Trials of all kinds are part of life. It’s not a question of whether or not we’ll face trials, but rather, just how we handle them. I like to use the word manage, although it’s not like we can take care of the trials ourselves. Of course we pray for wisdom, and going from that, do what we can. But the ultimate outcome of everything is in God’s hands. Part of that outcome does involve how we trust God is guiding us in the process as we ask God for wisdom, and commit ourselves to living in his will.

Considering it pure joy involves realizing that God is not only at work in the trials themselves, but also in maturing us through them. It’s often said that troubles can make you or break you. There’s some wisdom in that. We don’t just hold on and make the best of things ourselves. We are dependent on God, no less. We need God’s help, wisdom to know how to navigate it. With our eyes not only on God’s answer, but on the promise that God is shaping our character through the issues which come our way.

That’s another thing to remember: Make the most out of reversals, even trials in which we are part of the problem. We can ask ourselves just how we can improve through that trial, or really, whatever trial we’re facing. Not just ask ourselves and consider that, which is important, but ask God.

Whatever trial it is, and sometimes it feels like the internal pressure is worse than the external, or whatever it is that is troubling us. Our experience of it in itself can be a trial on top of the actual problem itself. All of that we bring to God. Does God make a difference or not? We can say we believe that, but do we really? We need to put that truth to the test, not because God needs to be tested, but because our faith does. Is our faith growing, really able to break through  beyond what we’ve experienced before? And we need to remember, that no matter what it is, we not only can bring it to God, but indeed, we should.

We also need to remember that we’re in this life together. We in Jesus are meant to help each other in prayer and in practical ways. God will help us. We only need to keep reaching out to him again and again and again. In and through Jesus.