God is in Your Circumstances
Grab your Bible (or click here: James 1:1-18), because you’re going to want to read through this passage to make sense of what I write. This month we’re posting some thoughts from the book of James. We hope we can both challenge and encourage you as we point you back to Scripture. We pray that the Spirit will use His Word and a few comments on it from us to pierce your heart and grow you in His grace.
James 1 starts out talking about different circumstances: trials (James 1:2), decisions (James 1:5), poverty (James 1:9), wealth (James 1:10), temptation (James 1:14) and blessing (James 1:17).
As he mentions each of these, he applies theology to each of the different situations and shows how it affects us.
God is in Your Trials
James tells us that God uses trials to ‘test’ our faith. He is not trying to catch us out (James 1:13 makes that clear). God isn’t trying to push you away when He lets hard times come into your life, but He wants you to lean on Him in faith so that you will be more mature and complete – “Lacking nothing”. James’ theology here? God uses hard times to grow us deeper into Himself.
In James 1:12, he says that when we pass through the test, we “receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him (HCSB).” What is the practical application of this theology that God uses trials to prove our faith and then rewards us when He brings us through them? James says we should “consider it a great joy” when we’re facing trials.
God is in Your Confusion
In James 1:5, James tells us that God is generous to everybody. One of the things He freely gives is wisdom. So when you’re confused, the best thing you could possibly do is to ask God. You may not have confidence in yourself, but you can have full confidence in God. So ask with complete trust, expect Him to answer, search for His answer in scripture and prayer, and go with what He says.
God is in Your Wealth or Poverty
James says that both ‘humble’ and ‘rich’ people have reason to boast. Both receive the same gift from God – the rich man’s wealth will not last. It is a passing wealth. Its temporary nature reminds us of the lasting wealth of Christ. The humble man’s poverty will not last. The temporary hardship reminds us that we have been given everlasting spiritual abundance in Christ.
God is in Your Temptation
God is not tempting you. When your faith is tested in trials, God is not pushing you to sin but revealing whatever is already in your heart. Whatever the external pressure, you are “drawn away and enticed by [your] own evil desires (James 1:14 HCSB).” Your desires result in your sin and your death (James 1:15).
How then is God there in your temptation? James points to God’s holiness “God is not tempted by evil” and righteousness “He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone (both James 1:13 HCSB).” So first of all, in your temptation you have this glorious reminder that God is not like us. He has never desired nor done evil. This gives us a hope, since we are counting on His righteousness for our own salvation. Remember 2 Corinthians 5:21? He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (HCSB).
Also, in the midst of your temptation, God is calling you out of it:
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13 (HCSB)
God is in Your Blessings
God never changes (James 1:17). Which means that if “every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father,” then even the trials that God allows to come our way must in some way have a purpose.
And obviously it’s not just the trials that have a purpose, but God actively gives us blessing upon blessing and mercy upon mercy. His absolute forgiveness, unconditional love, and daily sustenance of our very existence should blow our minds. In the little things that make us smile – the sunset, the city lights, the sounds the birds make, the friends that make us laugh, the family that holds us close – all these things are beautiful gifts from God. He gives us gifts that reflect His character and love toward us so that in them we will be pointed toward Him and worship.
Live it Out
Take a moment to journal three questions:
- What circumstances do you find yourself in life right now?
- Where do you see God in your circumstances?
- What blessings is God giving you daily to turn your heart’s eyes to Himself?