Summary: James expresses the fact that life is made up of triumph and tragedy, of sorrow and joy. Sickness can trip us up and sin can entangle us. We rarely know what to expect. Life is often very unpredictable. Our trust level in Christ will impact our response t
Navigating the Ups and Downs of Life
James 5:13-18 13 Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. 17 Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
Intro: James expresses the fact that life is made up of triumph and tragedy, of sorrow and joy. Sickness can trip us up and sin can entangle us. We rarely know what to expect. Life is often very unpredictable. Anyone who has had an accident or has had a family member suddenly get sick, can attest that life can change radically in just a matter of seconds. Tragedy comes in many forms.
-I read about a former female basketball player named Kia Jurgenson who was a student at a Christian University. She was a gifted, all state high school basketball player who loved the Lord; she received a full-ride scholarship and started as a freshmen on the University team.
-During those college years, Jurgenson contacted a dangerous form of meningitis with the result being that to save her life, the Drs. had to amputate both of her legs and most of her right hand. Needless to say, basketball was out.
-On the outside looking in we would say that Life has been unfair and cruel to her. Nevertheless, after a lengthy and arduous rehab, she was back at school the following fall. And you can just imagine what it was like when at a chapel service, she stepped up on the stage and up to the podium (on her prosthetic limbs) and thanked all the people for their prayers and support, but most of all Jesus for his steadfast love. Amazing, isn’t it? How do we respond to adversity?
-Let’s take a closer look at how we should approach the ups and downs of life.
1. Personal Prayer is the proper response to trouble
James 5:13a Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray.
-The word James uses here refers to suffering of any kind. It can include sickness but also covers death, disappointment, and persecution.
-When we’re in trouble, we are to pray as Psalm 34:4 reminds us: “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.” When we’re in a mess we should pray for wisdom, strength, and for the removal of the suffering, if it is the Lord’s will. We have the privilege of prayer where we can go to God at any time, in any situation with whatever is on our hearts. I don’t know how people can go through hard times without the Lord in their lives.
-The Bible is clear that suffering is the normal expectation for every believer. Peter puts it rather bluntly in 1 Peter 4:12: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” But, even though we know life is never easy, we can give way to self-pity or get resentful and discouraged. When we sense that the pressures of life are greater than we can bear, James says, “Pray.”
2. Praise is the proper response when life is good!
James 5:13b Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.
-James is saying here that not everyone goes through troubles at the same time. God balances our lives and gives us hours of suffering and days of singing. Praying and singing were important elements of worship in the early church, as they are in ours.
-The word “happy” means to be of good cheer, and suggests a state of mind that is free from trouble. When we’re happy we’re to sing songs of praise. In Psalm 96:1-2, David calls us to, “Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise His name; proclaim His salvation day after day.” We are called to sing songs of praise when we’re going through times of success because good times can lead to spiritual indifference.
-And so, we’re to pray when we suffer and we’re to praise when we have success. Now, let’s look at what we’re to do when we have sickness.