#3 – The Wisdom of Suffering [James1:1-18]: Perspective

So we have established that we should consider suffering and difficulty as an opportunity for JOY! In looking at them as a means through which we reach the top (of that mountain) and receive the glory that awaits us there. The pain being a momentary experience, only a means to an end. But before we can begin to climb this mountain of suffering, or think about the top, we first need to consider how to go about doing so. We need a strategic perspective. A professional approach.

James explains in verse 3 that we should be assured and understand that the trial and proving of our faith bring out endurance (and steadfastness and patience). Now to be assured of something is to really trust that it will happen. And to understand something is to see it from a realistic perspective. In this case the Lord’s. James is assuring his brothers and sisters that when they belong to the Lord, trial is a good thing. And they should see it like that. They should not moan about trial, or try to avoid it, or feel guilty and bad because their lives are not sweet and smooth. Or even feel less loved by God because of the suffering in their lives. On the contrary, the opposite feelings should arise. They should see it as an opportunity to rejoice in the Lord, for He has allowed a time in which they will develop and grow. He has brought on a season of progression. A time in which they can mature in wisdom. One that will require closer dependence on Him and more need for His life and character to be developed within them. I could even go so far as to say that James is encouraging them to see trail as a loving gift from their heavenly Father. One that is meant for their good, and not for evil. But that again is a matter of perspective.

Now I know that many people have faced very real suffering in this world, terrible things that no person should ever experience. And often these are brothers and sisters that love God and follow Him wholeheartedly. And yes the question does beg, “how can a loving God allow suffering?” And as much as that is a very important question, one that many have asked, and one to which I too would love an answer, I do not want us to get into it just yet. For now, I would like us to just look at these scriptures at face value and receive wisdom from them for our lives. Allow the scriptures to speak to us without our own agendas, experiences, or emotions determining the way we read them, and so clouding our ability to receive and believe the truth set out in them. We have to be professional. Approach the scriptures objectively and with a desire to understand them for what they are. Only then will we truly see from the Lord’s perspective and be able to understand suffering correctly.

So, may we, as in the words of James just a little later on in this chapter be as one who looks carefully into the faultless law, the law of liberty that sets you free, and be faithful to it and persevere in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer who obeys, and so be blessed in that life of obedience.

Lord, thank you so much that life from your perspecitive is worth living. That when we see things the way you do, we are able to live in a way that is wise and in a way that works. I trust that during this time you will really shift our perspective closer to your own and help us see, think, and walk in a way that pleases you. May we truly understand trail and be assured of your love for us in the midst of suffering. Amen.

2 thoughts on “#3 – The Wisdom of Suffering [James1:1-18]: Perspective

  1. Armadillo you burrowing animal… burrowing into God’s word. Thanks for another lekker, helpful piece.

    On the issue of letting the scriptures work on us, not the other way around – I agree. I’m wondering how this is worked out. I think we come humbly, in a spirit of submission to God speaking through his word. We should submit ourselves as a patient submits itself to a doctor or surgeon. The wound/disease that we need treated is still very personal and painful. We do not disengage it. But we trust the doctor in understanding and treating it. Our problem is that we think we are so clever (concerning things like suffering, life, God). In actual fact, we are like patients – the doctor knows a lot more. And the difference between us and God is greater than that between us and doctors. As the Scriptures say:

    Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”

    Your pieces have already brought out how God’s wisdom is often the opposite of ours – consider it a joy when you face trials.

    The verses in the latter part of James 1 instruct us to “humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” We need to guard against being too clever for our own good… we will end up in knots, caught in our own cleverness.

    So I’m effectively saying that we can hold on to our personal experience, but submit it to God’s word. You were driving at perspective – looking at our lives through the lens of God’s word. Or looking at it using the light of God’s word. I’m just adding the suggestion that we don’t have to try and ignore/forget our suffering. In fact, our lives are the very thing on which we shine God’s word.

    1. Peter

      I continue to enjoy reading your comments. I appreciate that you take the time and effort to respond with insight, reason, and a little bit of Walla flare. I enjoy that you continue the thought and add to it. That is what I would like this platform to be. Brothers and sisters journeying together into the mysteries of Christ. Discovering more together than they would alone. So keep those comments rolling in buddy.

      As for your comment. I like what you are saying. You are suggesting that our suffering is very real, and almost “a part of us.” It is our human factor. One that we cannot just overlook or ignore. One that Jesus even tells us to embrace… “pick up your cross.” But that if we want to understand it correctly, we must look at it through the eyes of our Lord, through the lens of scripture. Otherwise it will either be a heavy “mountain” on our backs that we carry on our own (without Christ), or a “mountatin” that we end up walking circles around because we ignore its presence in our lives. We must submit our “mountain” to the Lord and gain wisdom from him on how to best climb it. Only then will it be able to reach the top and yield honour and glory that will please our heavenly Father. Just like Jesus did when he endured the cross. We can learn much from him…“not my will but yours…”

      As for your doctor/patient analogy – I really like it. And I agree. It is definitely like that. The word of God is like the scalpal He uses to ‘cut out’ that which is diseased within us, and if we are not willing to trust him and ‘cum under the knife’ we will continue to live with that disease within us. It is the love He has shown us that should allow us to trust Him. And yes, when we come to scripture, we should come ready and with a spirit of humilty and a mind of wanting to be obedient, saying: “I have seen your goodness and trust your capable hands. I want you to work in me. I trusts you and believe that what your word says it true and good for me. I know it might hurt, and that things may be differnet afterwards, but I am willing to trust you. So here I am, put me under and fix me up.”

      Bless you bro

      The Armadillo

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