For the past two weeks, at both HQ Philly and HQ Albion, we kicked off a series on James. We’ll be working our way through the book over the course of the next several months, so we decided to start off with a look at the first several of verses, James 1:2-5, which reads: “1 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
The book of James contains an array of highly practical nuggets of wisdom, but it’s important (and pretty interesting) that he starts off with these. It’s important because, no matter who you are, no matter where you live or where you come from, you will inevitably and frequently experience “trials of many kinds”. The struggles of life, the diverse challenges that we all face, are the backdrop of the book of James, and it is important to understand and accept the attitude that he urges us to take towards our personal battles: Joy. Here, the Bible tells us to consider it pure joy when we face those hardships, pure joy each and every time that life thinks up a new way to knock us down, set us back, or block our way.
That might seem pretty strange, but James goes on to say that the testing of our faith produces “perseverance”, or endurance. The trials that we face are not fruitless; we do not struggle for no reason in some cruel game. On the contrary, much like working out at the gym, when we push our muscles until they are in pain so that they may heal and become stronger, the spiritual obstacles that we struggle with every day make our spirits stronger. This endurance is our way of participating in the perfection that Jesus has planned for all believers, so that through our perseverance we might one day become “mature and complete, not lacking anything.” But sometimes it can be difficult to understand and recognize our the benefits of our trials, and it’s even more difficult at times to figure out how to actually navigate those struggles. Essentially, James writes here that in those times, we should remember not to rely on ourselves, but to reach out to God in prayer and ask for that wisdom.
We’ll be going through the book of James and discussing how all of it comes together in the coming weeks. If you’re in the area, come on out! If not, check back for more updates on what we’re talking about here at HQ, and consider supporting us and our teens!