Why? – Testing Your Faith (part 5)
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think that he will receive anything from the Lord. He is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business. Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:1-12
As already stated, if you desire to have victory in the midst of any trial that comes your way, you need a joyful attitude, an understanding mind and a surrendered will. Additionally, you must have a trusting heart—this is the fourth essential. Look at verses 5-6: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”
Prosperity preachers claim it is not God’s will for you to suffer and that if you are suffering, you must be out of His will. Furthermore, they proclaim that if you have not been healed, it is because you don’t have enough faith. First, that kind of teaching is a slap in the faces of the many missionaries around the world who are in the center of God’s will, yet they encounter one trial after another. Second, it is simply false teaching. Typically, these preachers counsel people to pray for deliverance and then contend that, with enough faith, they will be delivered. Tell that to Joni Eareckson Tada! Tell that to Darlene Rose! Tell that to the apostle Paul!
In Hebrews 11, we read about the heroes of our faith—men like Abraham, Noah and Moses. Hebrews 11:13-16 states, “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were looking for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” This is not our home; we are to look forward to a better country—a heavenly one.
James tells us “to consider,” “to know,” “to let” and now “to ask.” When we come to God in humble submission and ask for His help, we show that we trust Him, and what we should ask for is His wisdom. Someone has said that knowledge is the ability to take things apart, while wisdom is the ability to put them together. Wisdom helps us evaluate our circumstances in light of what God is doing, according to His Word. And when we ask, we should not doubt, otherwise, we will be just like a wave of the sea, blown about by every wind of doctrine. Can you imagine the discouragement of all those people who flock to the Benny Hinn’s of the world expecting to be healed, but healing never comes? What these people need is a proper understanding of the Word of God. What we all need is wisdom. Someone said, “If you don’t have a proper understanding of the Word of God, then you will be like a cork on the waves of the sea—up one minute and down the next.” Wisdom produces peace, contentment and an enduring faith.
In verses 9-10 James writes about the poor man and the rich man. He, in essence, states that each should learn to be content with his place in life. And he tells us why in verses 10 and 11. The rich man “will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.” Life is short. James 4:4 states, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” Doesn’t it help to know that this life will soon come to an end and our pain will not last forever?
Former major league baseball player Dave Dravecky lost his pitching arm to cancer. As a result, his life verses became 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. “Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Wisdom gives us a proper perspective, an eternal perspective. Our troubles are light in view of the eternal glory they are achieving for us, and they are temporary. When we arrive on the other side of eternity, I firmly believe we will all say, “Well, that wasn’t so bad after all, and God was with me through it all!”
Footnote: God still heals. Jesus is the great Physician. And so, for those who have a question about healing, I believe our prayer should be “Lord, please heal me. However, not my will, but Thy will be done! In your name I pray. Amen.” This is the prayer Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane. It is a prayer of faith that rests in God’s will and it serves as a model for us.
A Note on Suffering
It seems like every time I turn around I hear about another very difficult trial that a friend of mine is going through. Last week I learned that my cousin’s, Dick Gresham’s, wife, Jane, has a type of cancer that is very rare and very aggressive. I asked them for permission to share their story. The two of them are very strong followers of and believers in Jesus Christ. This is what Dick shared with my family in a text:
“Jane’s post-op pathology report was presented to us today. She has a rare/aggressive form and in for a ‘yearlong battle’ of heavy chemo and radiation protocols. Of course, this is not what we wanted (nor expected). Our surgeon had never seen this ‘Triple Negative’ diagnosis…Jane and I are trusting the Lord for ultimately He is the healer and He has had our lives since time began.”
Here is what Jane said:
“We are both shocked and numb but I MUST tell you, God is very, very near. I strongly sense that He has total control. This has not caught Him off guard. Quite the contrary. Our prayer request remains God enable us to keep our eyes stayed on you!”
Wow! What faith and trust in the midst of one of life’s hardships and troubles. When I asked Jane if it was okay to share this, she replied:
“Certainly! I am humbled that anything like this can be used for the Lord!”
Please be praying for Dick and Jane as they go through this storm of life with their eyes fixed upon Jesus!