Last October, I was retrenched from my job without warning after working there for about two years. The following month, my girlfriend’s father, who had motor neuron disease, was admitted to hospital. He died two months later.
Even though I kept reminding myself to keep trusting God, I must admit that those months were especially tough.
In his introduction (vv. 1-4), James urges us to rejoice during our trials, because the testing of our faith produces perseverance. But how can we apply this instruction while we are struggling through difficulties in life—when illnesses strike, when we’re facing financial difficulties, or when we’ve lost a loved one?
The Bible teaches us that the solution is not to pray that God will get us out of the trial, but to pray that He will give us the wisdom we need to help us get through it. Wisdom is not the same as knowledge; it is the practical use of knowledge. And it is necessary to help us view trials from the right perspective, so that we can see them as opportunities for us to mature and grow.
And the assurance is this: God will give us wisdom generously if we ask Him.
The longer a trial drags on, of course, the harder it can be to keep trusting God. Perhaps that is why James tells us that it is important to ask in faith. We need to be careful not to be double-minded—uncertain if God is really listening to our prayers, or doubting if He is really a loving God. James uses the analogy of a seafarer to describe a double-minded person: tossed to and fro by the wind, such a person easily gives up his trust in God when faced with unpleasant things in his life.
So let’s approach God with full confidence that He will give us the wisdom to understand Him and believe in Him in the midst of our trials—because He will (v. 5).
Godly wisdom is rooted in the fear and reverence of God (Psalm 111:10). What this means is that we can have the assurance that God, being the ruler of the world (Revelation 4:11), has power and authority over all things He has created. We can therefore trust that He is still in control even when things are not going the way we want them to.
Worried that we might not have enough money to cover the additional expenses incurred for my girlfriend’s father’s medical treatment, my girlfriend and I reminded each other to trust God, who promises to provide for our needs because He loves us. True enough, help arrived at the right time, at various points of time when we needed it.
Ultimately, we can rest in God because we know that we already have the best thing in life: salvation. We are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3), and we can rejoice that our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20)—regardless of what we’re going through in this life.
—Alvin Chia, Singapore
Questions for reflection
Hand-lettering by Sonya Lao
Alvin Chia is always hungry. One of the things he cannot do while others easily can is to stop eating after a meal and stand still at a bus stop. But he is well aware that God is the only one who can truly satisfy him and cause him to be still. He used to be a sports journalist but he doesn’t exercise. No wonder he is no longer one now, so that he doesn’t have to live an inconsistent life.
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