I was listening to a sermon tonight by "John Miller". He looked at this short portion at the start of the Epistle James. If you don't know the Epistle which is a really fancy way of saying 'a letter' is often attributed to Jesus half brother, James. Here it is so you don't have to look elsewhere for it....
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 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. 6 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. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
it just seems so appropriate to the very present trials we are facing. The passage is also very certainly reassuring. The first two sentences remind us that trials and hardships are absolutely a part of our Christian journey, a part of the human condition. The bit that lifts me and also challenges me is in the first four words. "Consider it pure joy". Really, that's not easy, but we are to be lifted. Our spirits are to be raised up, and I hope yours are as you read it. We are to be joyful when we endure because it is normal to face such things.
In fact the passage goes on to point out that it is through such trials that we as God's work can become nearer to being finished. We learn, we develop.
John Miller talked about how his own life experiences, having a child, losing loved ones had enabled him to be a better pastor and help others. This certainly rings true, doesn't it.. The more we endure, the more we experience, I hope the more empathetic and compassionate we become. We start as Christians with a heart for Jesus, a desire to learn about him to know him. As we grow we gain a heart for the poor, the lonely, the weak, the vulnerable. This compassion is a combination of human experience and time spent with our God.
It draws me onto my point really. I have confessed before that prayer is something I have long struggled with. I am more of a person of action than stillness and silence. I know, that my best response to a crisis is a pause and a prayer and yet my first reaction is always to barrel in. The passage above points to that need for prayer in time of trial. "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should as God, who gives generously". When I find myself faced with difficulty I know the message is clear. Keep going, it was always thus and is meant to be that we should have trials, we improve as a result. Yet we do not face them alone, pray to the father for wisdom and he will give generously whenever you face a trial.
Have a great week my friends.