Updated: Oct 11, 2020
Vital to the Outcome James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” “911, What is your emergency?” First responders are vital to the outcome of a critical event. From the moment the call is dispatched, they respond quickly and work effectively to mitigate harm or tend those in need of medical attention. They remain calm and focused because the outcome is often life or death. In today’s reading, James teaches us how to respond to critical events that are vital to the outcome of our lives. In the face of trials and unexpected hardships, we are first responders. We are on the scene, and it’s our call: will we consider it joy, or will we succumb to our immediate emotions? Spiritually, some people feel trapped in suffering and despair, they desperately call on God for deliverance. Yet He seems to do nothing. Do you ever feel this way? King David often did. Following are some examples of his spiritual 911 calls to God. “Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!” (Psa. 38:22). “How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” (Psa. 13:1). “Be not far from me, for trouble is near; for there is none to help” (Psa. 22:11). “To You, O Lord, I call; my rock, do not be deaf to me, for if You are silent to me, I will become like those who go down to the pit” (Psa. 28:1). Where was God? Why did He let David suffer repeatedly? Why does He let us? The answer is simple. The following four truths about prayer and suffering will help us to trust in God when He is silent. 1) God answers in His time. He experiences time differently than we do (2 Pet. 3:8). Be patient and wait for His timing. Maybe God’s answer to your prayer is simply, “Not yet.” 2) God answers in His way. His thoughts and His ways are infinitely higher than ours (Isa. 55:8-9). Therefore, His solutions to our problems may not even enter our minds. Trust in His solutions, not your own. 3) God answers according to His will. Sometimes our will is diametrically opposed to His. Suffering has a purpose in God’s plan (Jas. 1:2-4; 2 Cor. 12:7-10). His desire isn’t to eliminate all pain on earth. Ask for deliverance, but pray His will be done, and submit to it. 4) God answers His faithful children. Though David felt abandoned by God on many occasions, in reality, he never was. God always came to his rescue because he lived righteously (Psa. 34:15-22). This holds true for us as well. Next time you make spiritual 911 calls that God seems to ignore, trust that He knows right where you are and, if you are His faithful child, He will eventually deliver you in one way or another, as He has promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). Take a moment to think about your last trial. Was your response filled with frustration, anger, and disappointment? If so, you played right into the enemy’s hands. He loves to lead you down the slippery slope of negativity, block spiritual growth, and keep you from fulfilling God’s purpose. Conversely, God wants to work through those tough times to help you develop perseverance, maturity, and wholeness. But, again, YOU are the first responder! When hardships come, respond swiftly by tapping into the peace and joy that come from knowing Christ personally. Be confident in the fact that He is on the scene and ready to lead you through each hardship and every trial. “911, What’s your emergency?” The ball’s in your court — how will you respond? When was the last time you faced a trial with joy? Instead of looking at the next hardship with a negative perspective, ask yourself this question, “What does God want to teach me at this moment?” Take each trial in stride, knowing that God’s preparing you for what He’s prepared for you! Prayer: Dear God, Thank You for the joy that is only found from having a personal relationship with You. When trials and temptation arrive, help me to consider the true source of them. Let me joy in the fact that you are in control. Guide my thoughts so that I may be mature and complete, lacking nothing, because You are my everything. Please hear my prayers of repentance as I seek your mercy and grace. My you bless the cup and bread of life, as I renew my covenant with you. Amen!