Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.
James 1:2-8 (MSG)
There’s something about staying power. And wrestling with the “triumphalism which is so easily read into the Judeo-Christian tradition” as noted by our last night lecturer, Jeremy Begbie. We are triumphant, victorious, winners-of-the-battle in Christ, yet in troubles we are still commanded to, not just persevere, but consider it joy! What does that LOOK like? Is it intellectual arithmetic? Is it a pasted-on smile? Is it adopting a new attitude?
I really like the Message paraphrase: Don’t try to get out of anything prematurely… it strikes a chord with me – I’m definitely a here-and-there person, keeping my options open. James is promoting spiritual maturity, which looks like asking God what to do, believing in His provision and leadership and remembering the “patient” example of Job (whom he upholds as a model of faith at the end of the book).
On a side note, I noticed yestereve that we say I believe in Jesus, but we don’t say I believe in anyone else. Like, I don’t believe in Oprah. I don’t believe in U2. You know? What does that mean? And then I wondered about the Hebrew or the Greek or whatever it is, and whether I’d be studying it one day.