April 24, 2012

Keeping Your Spirits Up When Life Gets you Down (Book of James)

When something goes wrong in my life, it is easy to become negative about it. It's easy to feel annoyed and it's easy to complain. However, this is not the attitude that God wants us to have about the hard times we experience in life, big or small. He doesn't even want us to have a neutral attitude or a feeling of just putting up with what is going on. He wants us to have an attitude of joy:

"Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance."
-James 1:2-3


Why should we be joyful when we're facing something tough? Well, it helps us to become more steadfast, and that in turn will help to make us "perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:4).  The trials we experience, no matter how small, help to strengthen our faith and make us better people. 

We should be even more joyful when we remember the Lord's words in John 16:33: "In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world."  Christ's resurrection should give us hope and joy that one day we will have eternal life with God.  The message of 1 Peter 3-9 basically says that we should rejoice during the hard times in our life because we are working towards the goal of our faith, which is the salvation of our souls.  We need to remember that our lives are short and the difficulties we experience here are temporary.  The reward for facing our trials correctly will be great in heaven. 

But how do we learn to look at our trials with joy?  How do we change our attitudes and our perspective to look at the bigger picture in our lives?   The key to this is asking God for wisdom:

"But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it"
- James 1:5


The notes in my Bible (Catholic Edition NAB) say that wisdom is "a gift that God readily grants to all who ask in faith and that sustains the Christian in times of trial. It is a kind of knowledge or understanding not accesible to the un-believer or those who doubt, which gives the recipient an understanding of the real importance of events. In this way a Christian can deal with adversity with great calm and hope." 

I love that! Wisdom helps us to understand why the trying events in our life our so important.  Prayer can help us to gain wisdom, which will in turn help us see the bigger picture of our lives, which will then enable us to view our trials with joy.  That definitely has encouraged me to spend more time praying for wisdom, especially when God is more than willing to give it to anyone who asks for it.  

Finally, it is encouraging to remember that no matter what we are going through, God will never, ever let us go through more than we can handle.  He will always help us find a way to handle it or a way to get out of it:

"No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it."
- 1 Corinthians 10:13

This blog post was based on the Bible Study James: Pearls for Wise Living by Jeff Cavins. Here are my previous posts:

10 comments:

  1. what a wonderful and encouraging blog post! I love your Book of James posts...I am really learning a lot from them. Thank you.

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    1. I'm so glad! We are loving this Bible study, James is awesome!

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  2. Thank you. I needed to hear this today!

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  3. Again...awesome! Question regarding praying for wisdom. Do you pray for wisdom in general or for wisdom for particular circumstances? I am still so new in my faith and my prayers still feel a bit haphazard ... by that I mean I jump around a lot. I try to make my night prayer follow ACTS.
    Any advice for a newbie to the faith and the Church?

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    1. That's a really good question! To be perfectly honest I am not sure what the right answer is, as I have never prayed for wisdom before this Bible study. I think it's good to pray for it in general - Solomon asked God for wisdom in general in 1 King 3, and God was extremely pleased with this and gave him plenty of it, which helped him in his decision with the two mothers. However, I feel like if you do have a specific situation come up and you can't figure out what to do or how to do, it would be beneficial to pray for wisdom for that situation. I don't think there is a right way or a wrong way, but however you pray for it, I believe it would fall under supplication in ACTS.

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  4. Thank you so much for this post! It is EXACTLY what I needed to read today. God bless!

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  5. These last two posts were great, Caitlin! Thanks so much for sharing what you are studying. I look forward to hearing more!

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