Connect the Dots

God has been drawing some lines between all of James' pearls of wisdom. Many of his instructions seem to be especially challenging in the midst of trials of many kinds. Here's a few connections I've realized:

In times of trial...

1. I need perseverance. It's ironic that this is what God is trying to build in me through trials but it's also what I need in order to stay the course. Do I ever feel tempted to duck out early from the test? Yes, but I know I can't. There is far too much at stake!

2. I cannot rely on my own wisdom.  The trials I face require wisdom from the One who sees it from beginning to end. I can only seen what is in front of me. He sees the big picture. My decision-making ability is limited by my addiction to sight. I'm always lacking wisdom but I'm not always quick to realize it. I need to realize my need, and when I do, ask boldly with the expectation that He will give generously.

3. I must remember the good gifts that are all around me. James says that every good and perfect gift is from above. Trials tempt me to narrow my focus to what is lacking  rather than to be thankful for what He is doing. Perspective can easily be lost.

4. It's extra-challenging and extra-necessary that I am quick to listen. Trials seem to speed up my verbal reaction time and slow down my desire to hear. I'm continually tempted to direct my reactions outward instead of upward where they will cause the least damage and be corrected before making their way out.

5. Anger will beckon. Times of trials seem to bring the added bonus of being easily frustrated. No wonder James specifically instructs us to be slow to anger. When I'm distracted by a trial, frustration can easily mount if I'm not clothed in forgiveness, and quickly turn to anger. The enemy loves to use these opportunities to distract me from the righteous life that God desires for me.

6. I must hear and obey the Word.  "Oneday" is the day that never comes. I seem to struggle with the perpetual battle of time. The to-do list never seems to end nor the pull in multiple directions. Hearing and doing the Word must top my priority list. Everything else must find it's rightful place behind this priority.

7. I need His eyes. Without them, I will be limited to see people based only on earthly merit and may engage based only on how I may benefit. With His eyes, I can see fellow travelers in need of mercy and encouragement, and myself as a vessel.

8. My faith needs feet. I need to act based on the belief that God is who He says He is, that He'll do what He promised and that He is alive in me. Anything less isn't really faith.

9. Words of truth must steer this ship. My choices lately seem to be truth or emotion. If my words aren't grounded in truth, especially in times of trial, the ship will meander and possibly miss out on the purposes God desired.

10. My priority must be what God wants. He wants me to ask Him about everything first. He's the only one who can sift through my wish list and find the heart of my needs. He wants me to submit to Him and resist the "shortcuts" the enemy is tempting me with. He wants me to be broken over sin, confess it, and come before Him with humility. This will position me to navigate my trials His way and experience Him like never before.

What about you? What is God teaching you through this study? How is his Word challenging you? I'm dying to know as we journey this road together. I invite you to leave a comment and allow your journey to be an encouragement to someone else!

Your fellow traveler,