Devotional

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.” –  James 1:5-8. 

James is an incredible book.  James, perhaps more so than any other New Testament book, calls on us to put into practice what we believe on a daily basis. James talks a lot about the importance of synchronizing faith and works. He tells us that faith should be alive, energetic, fruitful, and productive.  

The greater barrier or threat to that kind of faith is suffering. Nothing will cause us more quickly to question the attention or goodness of God than times of trouble. Pain and adversity and various trials and challenges often cause us to wonder: “God, are you there? God, do you care? God, can I really trust You with my life?”

James 1:2 tells us, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” It is an opportunity for great joy.  Easier said than done that is for sure. Sometimes it seems out of the question for anybody who is a realist. James was one of those. James knows from his own experience that to respond to pain and suffering with joy doesn’t come naturally to us. He knows that when we are faced with hurricanes, pandemics, tragedy, and disillusionment, the idea of joy can seem like mission impossible. During times of real trouble, it is difficult to see a good God or a beneficial purpose or anything that feels redemptive. It is times as these that we need to remember that joy in times of trouble is a divine gift as James talks about in verses 5-8 of chapter 1.  

If you struggle to see your suffering and heartache from God’s perspective, if you are among those who see no purpose or value in the countless obstacles you confront each day, or you are wondering about what God might be up to in your life, ask Him. Ask Him for wisdom. Ask Him to supply you with spiritual eyes to see what He’s trying to accomplish in your life. James clearly indicates that the key to enduring trials with joy is our ability to “know” or “understand” that God’s purpose in them is to transform us to look more like Jesus. 

There is a promise found in James 1. The promise is for wisdom to “know” that your trials are not without meaning or value but that God can use them for your ultimate welfare. Embracing that promise will help you see the opportunity for great joy in times of trouble.  

Discussion Questions:

  1. How can I choose joy during life’s trials?
  2. How can I find joy when I don’t feel joyful?
  3. How can I trust God to turn my trials into joyful blessings?