I don’t fly that often – but over the years I’ve flown enough to become skeptical of the pre-flight safety speech given to passengers. They use words such as calmly, proceed, adjust, etc. Every time I hear the speech I’m thinking, “You can’t be serious,” If the cabin pressure should change, those oxygen masks are going to look like piñata’s full of candy to a room full of 8 year olds. There’s going to be screaming and poking going on as everyone grabs for all they can get their hands on. Oh yeah, if a life vest is needed – I will not be adjusting the straps loosely around my waist – that baby is going to be so tight I may not be able to breathe. And you can forget about me waiting till I’m in the water before that vest is inflated. They’re going to have to squeeze me out of the exit door like dried up toothpaste if I have to jump in the ocean.
Who comes up with this stuff? Normal everyday people are not going to act calmly, and proceed and adjust when thrown into a life or death, panic ridden crisis. When the pressure is on we revert to what we know – not what we’re asked to do. You can’t be serious if you think we’re going to act like we’re taking a stroll in the park!
So when you read the first chapter of James and it says we are to face our problems in life with joy it’s like listening to the pre-flight safety speech all over again. Our initial reaction is, “You can’t be serious.” How does anyone expect us to proceed with joy when life is beating the stuffing out of us? The answer to that question is found in James 1:5-7.
I don’t have all the answers
“If any of you lacks wisdom” (Vs. 5) The initial step to responding to problems with joy is admitting that we don’t have all the answers. Every one of us lacks the wisdom and the ability to control our attitude in the face of adversity. Understanding that I’m incapable on my own of figuring out life is a huge step forward and opens up endless opportunities for growth in my life. Every trial then becomes an opportunity to operate at a new level in my walk with Jesus.
Open my mouth and say…
“Let him ask of God, who gives to all generously…” There are actually two thoughts contained in this one phrase. First, I need to ask God for his wisdom. I have to be convinced that God has a better way to handle the problems of life or else I will never ask him for wisdom. Let’s face it, most of us never ask for help with something until we discover that our way of approaching the situation is not working. God has what we need in the face of every problem and difficulty we face – but we have to ask him for it. The second thought contained in this phrase is the generosity of God. It’s God’s nature to give! God has an open and generous hand. God is saying when we need wisdom to make a decision or to respond to a situation in life – he will give us what we need and then some. So simply put, you won’t receive from God just enough to scrape by – you will receive enough to thrive in the situation you’re facing.
God is not an option
Seeking wisdom from God is not like wishing upon a star and hoping that something comes true. Seeking God’s wisdom needs to be a response from our heart – with a conviction that God will come through! I may not know how or when but I’m certain He will. To the unbeliever that may sound foolish – but it’s not foolishness – it’s faith. Faith says I refuse to ask God for wisdom and then rely on my own wisdom or ability to get me through. I’m already convinced God has the right way and answer and he will provide me with what I need for whatever I face.
What’s the point?
When asked to face the difficulties and problems of life with joy – I don’t have to mumble under my breath, “You can’t be serious”. It is very possible for me to face adversity with joy! I will be able to do what God wants me to do the way God wants me to do it – when I stop relying on myself for the answers. Too many times when the pressure is on we revert to our natural selves and attempt to resolve our issues with our own wisdom. As long as we insist on doing that we will be met with continual defeat in our life. But when I begin to say – God’s wisdom is what I need and what I want as I face life’s difficulties – I will be able to face those situations with calmness, making adjustments, and proceeding with an unnatural wisdom. So are you grabbing for the oxygen masks in life, and trying to inflate your life vest before exiting the plane? You don’t have to panic in the crises of life if you’re willing to ask God to supply you with his wisdom! The end result is that when you rely on God’s wisdom and respond to your problems with joy instead of panic – others around you will look at your life and think – “You can’t be serious”.