Summary: God gives wisdom to those who ask and enables them to successfully navigate difficult circumstances in life.
When Life Gets Really Hard (II)
We are currently in the book of James, chapter 1. James begins this book with the subject of trials. Is anybody in a trial at this time in your life? Has anybody here walked thru a few valleys during your Christian journey?
What is the one thing you need more than anything else when you’re in a trial? If you’re in a financial trial you might answer-money? If your trial is loneliness you might answer a relationship. But that’s not the right answer according to James. James gives us the answer to that question in our text today. Follow with me as we read James 1:1-12 (Read). From that text we find four reasons we can “count it all joy” when we fall into various trials.
Last time we found the first one in verses 2-4. There we learned that
I. trials can produce something in us that is very valuable: a character quality called “hupomone” in the Greek. It is variously translated endurance, patience, perseverance. It is a depth of character, a Christ-like quality of reliability and fortitude. We see it in Jesus as he prays in the Garden of Gethsemane—able and willing to endurance of the cross to fulfill the Father’s good pleasure. You might think of it as staying power or steadfastness. When we cooperate with God during the hard times of life, God works this quality into our eternal being. That—not the pain and tragedy itself is cause for rejoicing.
In verse 5 we come to a second reason for rejoicing during trials—a wonderful promise in that verse that
II. Wisdom will be given to deal with the trial successfully. We don’t have to be defeated by the circumstances of life. We can be more than conquerors in Christ no matter what is going on externally.
Verse 5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God....” After introducing the subject of trials, why does James start talking about wisdom? What is the obvious question when we’re in a trial? I’m talking about after we finish the emotional response of “Why me?” The real question is, “What am I going to do about this problem? How in the world am I going to get through this? What should I do now?
Let me give you a picture of a person asking for wisdom in the midst of a trial. In 1 Sam. 30, David and his men have been away from their home base (Ziklag) where the women and children were. When they returned to Ziklag the found the city burned and their wives and children carried away captive. The grief was so severe that David’s own men turned against and talked about stoning him. David is in a trial. What does he do? 1 Sam 30:8 says, “So David inquired of the LORD, saying, "Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?" In other words, David asked God for wisdom in the midst of his trial. If there ever was a time for an emotional response to trouble that would have been it. What would you do if somebody had just kidnapped you wife and kids and burned your house to the ground? I would immediately start solving the problem the best way I knew how. The first thing I would do is call the police and then I would go after the kidnappers. There were no police for David to call. Why did he stop and ask God what to do? He had learned something about how to deal with trials. Ask for wisdom first; then do what God tells you to do. Don’t waste time complaining. Don’t waste time feeling sorry for yourself. Go to God in prayer.
Trials provide a valuable service for us. They expose our need for wisdom. They make us aware of our need for God and for His help. If a difficulty-a problem-a hardship doesn’t drive us to God for help, then there’s something wrong with our response. Maybe a little more pressure, a little more trouble will help us realize our need for God.
Here we are between the proverbial rock and hard place. We can do one of two things:
We can lean upon our own understanding and try to fix the mess ourselves. Or we can take James’ advice and do what? Ask God for wisdom. One way to stay stuck in a trial is to keep trying to fix it yourself. One old country preacher put it this way, “If ya fix the fix that God has fixed to fix ya, He’ll fix a bigger fix to fix ya.”
So what is the one thing we need when we’re in a trial? It’s not more money; it’s not more people helping us; it’s wisdom from God so that we know what to do next.