Life Lessons from Hard Times – Part 2 of 12
Advocating skillful living is all well and good – even kind of lofty – but what happens if I am confused about what to do, I come up short on options, or I am afraid of making the wrong decision? My ‘wisdom ship’ has sprung a leak!
The good news is that God has not left us adrift. James, who grew up with Jesus as his half brother, who did not convert to a believer until later in his life, who was one of the first to see Jesus after his resurrection, who wrote the first of the New Testament books about a year after the crucifixion and about 15 years before the next book, Galatians, provides spiritual instruction in these times:
James 1:5-8 5If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That person should not expect to receive anything from the LORD. 8Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. Three timeless truths come to us when we come up short on what we are to do:
- First, go to your knees – ‘Ask God.’ We have a heavenly Father who wants for us and has provided for us all that we need to ‘be mature and complete, not lacking anything.’ My prayer life qualitatively improved and changed about two years ago as I decided to take better advantage of my time driving to and from work, sans the radio. And it is wonderful how that regular prayer life moves your heart and mind toward convictions or actions. Start on your knees or behind the wheel of your car, so to speak.
- Second, prayers and promises. Following from your prayers, three things are promised: (1) ‘gives generously to all.’ No small portions, no limitations on God’s direction. It is generously and to all; (2) ‘without finding fault’. This is huge. For many of us, we are our worst critic! Yea, but….if you only knew what a mess up I was or am… Nay nay. Our God is not an angry troll under our life bridge ready to slap us down. He does not specialize in fault or blame. Our acknowledging out sin is then really really forgiven. The slate is cleaned up, for going forward with good life results; (3) ‘and it will be given to him.’ There it is. No equivocation. You ask, God gives. This is a process, but the end of that analysis!
- Third, proceed with Caution. The warning is for the doubter. Here is where the English is unfortunate. Both by translation and by context, this is a debater, a challenger to the goodness and provisions of life, a person who refuses to believe the trials of life are from the hand of a good God. Remember, ‘common’ doubt, confusion is a part of every Christian’s life, regardless of their station or maturity level. But if we stand toe to toe and challenge God on our circumstances, if that is you or me, then the supply side of wisdom is restricted. The result is a lack of skillful living, of being double-minded, of being unstable. In other words, no fence-sitting on this issue. You are either on the God-side by faith, believing in the good and provisional hand of God, or you are on the backside, grumbling and complaining, and debating with God.
Especially during this time in our national history, these words are timely and applicable on a daily basis. God’s best to you as you continue your journey.
– John Moore