“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:2-5
This is one of those passages that I have had to learn to love. I have shared with you before that I didn’t understand it for a long time. How were you supposed to count joy trials that come your way? And well, truthfully I didn’t like it either. But experience, and I hate to admit it, age have made me learn what this really means. We have a few things to unpack from this passage.
The first reason to count our trials as joy is that it will give us an opportunity for God to build our faith. And as our faith builds in one trial, it is there for us in the next one that comes along. When God has carried you through something, anything, it is easier to see that He will carry you through the next thing that comes your way. You see, it’s like this, trials that come our way can either make us bitter or they can make us better. It’s really your choice. Oh, wouldn’t we all love a life that trials never came our way? Of course we would. But that’s not how life works. There will be things. There will always be illnesses, there will be relational issues, there will be financial strains, there will always be death. Any of those and more can be considered our various trials. The joy doesn’t come from the trial itself. The joy comes from knowing that He is there for us to carry us through the trial. Knowing that we have a loving God who will wrap His arms around us and carry us through it, well that produces our faith, and it grows stronger. And when the next trial comes we will know that He is with us again. And we feel a little stronger to face it.
Then the second reason to count our trials as joy is the promise of His wisdom. In some trials that come our way all we can do is let God carry us through them. But some require decisions to be made. When that is the case, we must ask God for the wisdom and He promises to give it. In fact these verses say He will give it to us generously and “without reproach”! God wants to guide us through this life. He wants us to ask Him and He will show us our next steps. Sometimes, actually most of the time, it is step by step. We don’t usually get to look at the big picture of where we are going in those times. But when we get to the other side and we look back we can usually see that when we asked Him for the wisdom that He gave it to us generously. When we cling to Him and ask Him to show us the way, He will do it. It’s a promise. Our job is to ask!
Why is it, that we will look for a self help book instead of asking God so many times when we have a problem in front of us? I have been guilty of it. When, if we have God’s word in front of us, we have what we need to get through life. Now don’t take that the wrong way, Because I love books and I love to read a book about how someone learned to navigate a problem or issue they had and see if I can glean something to help me navigate. But something I always want to do is to make sure that any book I am reading about navigating life, points me back to scripture. I do believe we have a lot to learn from each other. But the true wisdom will only come from God, who will give us generously if we are asking. You can read the books for knowledge, but go to God to get the wisdom on how to use the knowledge you gain from reading the books. Let’s be sure to put them in proper perspective.
“Someone once said that knowledge is the ability to take things apart, but wisdom is the ability to put things together.”
I like that quote because what it brought to my mind is I can read all the self-help books I want to and I will gain some knowledge, but in the end when I am facing things that have broken my heart, it’s going to take God’s wisdom to show me the way and His gentle hands to put my heart back together.