By CRAIG HARRIS
James 1: 2 - 8 (NIV): 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 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. 6 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. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
What if the Bible said we would never experience hardship once we became followers of Christ?
We would know it is not true. But, instead, it says we will face trials and have trouble. Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33).
James tells us here that the trials we face are for a reason: They make us mature, they make us like Christ. I wish there was a shortcut to maturity, but there just isn't.
Jesus was familiar with suffering and we will be too if we belong to him. God allows trials because they increase our perseverance and our faith. This is why we can be joyful, even in hard times, because we know we are becoming more and more like Christ.
It's painful at the time, but it is reassuring to know that everything is working for our own good, even if we don't understand it at the time.
Wisdom is the practical use of knowledge. Being wise will take us far in life and we get wisdom from God. James says to ask God for it and we will receive it.
But it takes faith to believe God will answer. The stronger our faith, then, the more we will be able to ask from God and receive it. This is why we can be joyful when God is building our faith.
Autographed copies of Craig's fiction novel “The Dead Peasants File” are for sale at Blaser's Books in downtown Palestine. Harris is the pastor at Brushy Creek and Mt. Vernon United Methodist churches.