Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. 5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 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. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
When we are going through the trials of life James tells us not to rely on ourselves but to turn to God and ask Him for wisdom. But James also instructs us to ask only if we are willing to place our full confidence in Christ. It’s here that he warns us about being a fickle follower who flip-flops around in our faith. This is not just about turning to God it is about trusting completely in God. Many of us turn to Him in times of crisis but we don’t fully trust in Him. We try to straddle the fence of faith with one foot resting on the Savior and the other firmly planted on the side of self. Life’s challenges create a demand for wisdom, and God desires to supply us with all the wisdom we ask for but we have to be willing to ask in faith. Faith is the key to God’s treasure chest of wisdom and doubt is the lock. James tells us that we need to ask in an attitude of trust. Only faith can dispel the dark cloud of doubt that lingers over us during times of trials. The doubt James refers to here is not intellectual doubt, or doubting the existence of God or His ability to answer prayer. No it is the doubt of divided loyalties, where the vacillating Christian cannot decide from one trial to the next whether they will really trust God and follow His wisdom. Doubt bars the way to blessing and the on again-off again Christian should not expect to receive anything from God. The doubting Christian is the one who disputes with themselves, it is a kind of “he loves me, he loves me not” game that goes on in the heart. The decision to doubt in the midst of the trials leads to further trouble, where the believer becomes like a wave of the sea that is tossed to and fro by the wind. The imagery that James uses here depicts a storm, where the heart is caught in a hurricane of indecision which leads to instable and insecurity. James reminds us that those who dabble in doubt should not expect to receive anything from God. Instead of wisdom which shines light on our struggle’s we end up with wind that just adds to our storm. The doubter becomes a double-minded person, who is unstable in all they do. Abraham Lincoln is arguably one of our greatest presidents of the United States. He is remembered for so many great decisions, including the emancipation proclamation and the freeing of so many who were in bondage to slavery. He served during very tumultuous times and had to make many difficult decisions and I love what he said about those difficult times, “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day. ” Abraham Lincoln was a president of prayer who freely admitting that there are times when the only place we can turn to for truth is to God. That no matter how powerful the position we occupy we need to learn to lean into the divine wisdom that can only come from God because neither us nor anyone around us has the wisdom sufficient for the storm we are struggling through. Can you identify with Lincolns words today? Are you facing a problem which has exhausted your best efforts to solve it? Are you in need of answers that seem to evade you? Has your wisdom and the wisdom of those around you fallen short? Then talk to and trust in the One who delights in granting wisdom. The truth is that everybody has wisdom to share, but not all wisdom is actually wise. Who are you turning to in the tempest, are you relying on self or the Savior? How typical is it for us to lean on our own wisdom to get us through each day. We love to lean into the wisdom we have gained through living this life because it makes us feel smart and important. Sometimes we turn to friends and family or even strangers for wisdom or advice as we face trying situations. And while this is not necessarily a bad thing there are times when we need more than friends and family can offer, what we need is the Father. We need wisdom for our marriages; we need to wisdom in parenting our kids. We need wisdom in the workplace; we need wisdom to deal with difficult relationships. James tells us not only what to pray for, wisdom, but he also tells us how to pray, confidently, specifically, and with an unwavering faith. What about you are you seeking Godly wisdom or the worlds wisdom? Are you placing your faith in God alone or are you stuck straddling the fence between trusting self and trusting the Savior? If you are walking through the waves of worry turn to God and don’t just ask Him for wisdom, trust Him and walk in His wisdom. You have a choice you can live in the worry or you can live in the wisdom of the Lord.