Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, James 1:2 CSB
The virus, COVID-19, has caused a massive stir both in the United States and around the globe. Stores are selling out of essential supplies, opinions are flying, theories are filling the internet, the president has declared a national emergency, and most importantly people are getting sick and dying. Both mass worry and total apathy are responses that are sailing across social media and popping up in our everyday conversations. People respond to trials and pressure-filled circumstances in various ways. Some panic, some ignore, some even reject the problem’s existence.
We do not get to choose our trials, but we do get to choose how we respond to pressure filed circumstances. This, of course, raises the question, “how should the Christian respond to COVID-19?”. In James 1:2-8, James, the brother of our Lord, provides all believers a manual in how to respond to trial.
Consider the Trial Joy?
First, in verses 2-3, James says to count or consider trials as joy knowing that when faith is tested, endurance or patience is produced. What James is saying here is that the follower of Christ has reason to rejoice in any problem that they may face. This, of course, is not joy in the trial itself, but the potential sanctification brought about by trial. You too can rejoice in any trial that comes your way because God can use it for your growth and His glory.
Notice specifically here that James does not say “if” you fall into a trial but “when”. Pressure filled circumstances and difficult situations are inevitable in a fallen world. You cannot control a world-wide pandemic, you cannot even control whether or not you will end up contracting the virus that is spreading across the nation as we speak. But you can control your response. Will you rejoice or will you crumble?
Let Patience Prevail
Second, James says in verse 4 to let patience, or endurance, have its work in you that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James began in verses 2-3 by commanding believers to consider trials a joy because of the potential growth or endurance that may be produced by them. Here he turns to point to the goal of trials; maturity.
- In a trial you grow
- In a trial you prepare to face the next trial
- In a trial you learn to lack in nothing
- In a trial you are matured
- And in trial you can draw nearer to Christ.
This is what James says you can rejoice in. However, the road to maturity through trials is endurance. You must endure the trial to experience the maturity and joy produced by it.
There is no growth in a trial that you go through in fear, in unbelief, in apathy, or any other sinful posture or attitude. Endure with confidence and joy knowing how God can use this trial to grow you. Not in fear, not in apathy, nor desperation.
Ask for Wisdom Instead of Protection
Lastly, James tells the believers to whom he is writing and by extension us, to ask God for wisdom when facing trial and struggle. Now, notice that James does not say to ask God to protect you from contracting COVID-19. He says to pray for wisdom, not safety, not health, not provisions, but wisdom. Why? Because you need God’s wisdom more than any of those and more than the wisdom of any man.
Politicians and medical professionals will not provide you with the wisdom needed to endure this national emergency. Only God. You can take the advice of the wisest of men only to waste your trial because you never asked God for His wisdom. It would be better for you to contract the virus, depend on God’s wisdom, and come out on the other side mature and lacking nothing than to make it out of this struggle unscathed but still immature and unwise. Do not waste your trial, ask God for His wisdom in confidence.
James ends by saying that the one who asks with doubt is chaotic, unstable, and double-minded, which literally means double-souled. Many will, in creed and word, say that in this trial they are relying on God, but functionally and by their action will prove that their dependence in this trial is on the world and themselves. They will pray for wisdom and help but will do so in doubt because their reliance is divided between God and the world. That person is unstable spiritually and divided between God and His wisdom and the world and its wisdom and James says they will not receive wisdom from God. Friend, in this trial, will you ask God in faith and confidence for wisdom, or will you, in doubt, be divided between Him and the world’s wisdom?
The trial has arrived on our doorstep, will you waste it, or will you rejoice in it, grow through it, and rely on God above all else?
- How am I growing as a Christian during this time?
- How can I be a light for Jesus during this trial?
- Am I extending grace to people through this? People that are just as inconvenienced as I am, working harder than ever, enduring others who are not giving grace?
- Have I asked God for wisdom during this hard time?