Today’s passage contains a most counterintuitive statement. Imagine considering the troubles that come your way as occasions for great joy. It seems a ridiculous thing to suggest. However, by way of explanation, we read that as we have our faith tested by struggling through difficult situations, endurance is developed. Then, as you become able to endure even the greatest hardships, you become more like Jesus who endured the worst suffering imaginable with humility, grace, forgiveness and love. Well I think that’s the idea anyway! But then we read on. It is as if this suggestion is so hard to understand that the only thing anyone can do is pray for wisdom. Here we have one of many passages in the Bible that contain promises that if you need anything to help you in your faith, then you can ask God for it, and you will receive it. As a new Christian, I prayed for the wisdom to know and understand what The Lord wanted me to know. I believe he answered that prayer with remarkable promptness and I have been listening to him and understanding him ever since. The thing is though, in today’s passage, it is made very clear that if you want your prayers answered then you must focus your faith entirely on God. There is no room for sitting on the fence when it comes to effective prayer. If you doubt that God will hear you, or think he lacks the power to answer you, then you will surely be left wanting.
James 1:2-8 NLT
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. 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.
Today I am inspired on two fronts. Firstly I will stop expecting The Lord to remove every difficulty or obstacle in my path. Today’s passage points out that these things have been given as gifts to try me, and in so doing, develop my ability to endure and overcome hardships so that I might better serve God in future. Secondly I will take a long look at the state of my prayer life. I find myself asking hard questions regarding the depth of faith that I rely on when I ask God to meet my needs. I find that I could delve deeper in to my faith when I pray. I find I could pray more often and about more. I find that since the days when I first believed, my faith where prayer is concerned, has dropped off considerably. I must confess, I do feel as if God is not answering my prayers as swiftly or as abundantly as I think he did when I first laid my needs before him. So, more faith and less doubt from now on.
Ezekiel 35:1-36:38, James 1:1-18, Psalms 116:1-19, Proverbs 27:23-27