#8.3 – The Wisdom of Suffering [James 1:1-18]: Without Defects

So, we have determined that suffering can be likened to a computer virus, in that it is designed to infect and infiltrate our system. But that the Lord, in His sovereign wisdom allows suffering so that He can use it for His glory and purposes in our lives.

What’s important for us, is to see suffering from the correct perspective. We must not fear it, but understand what it is meant for. We must see it for what it is: an attempt of the enemy to destroy us. But only an attempt. One that is not merely a “threat” but also an “opportunity.” An opportunity to see where we are weak. An opportunity for us to test our system. To see where it can still improve and change for the better. An opportunity to grow stronger and become more like Christ.

So how do we fix the defects picked up during a time of testing?

The key is Christ! He is the anti-virus. He is perfectly designed to destroy any work of the devil [see Acts 10:38]. He has been given all authority and has complete supreme power over our enemy. All we need to do is apply His life and power. We need to run God’s divine anti-virus software on our system.

But how do we do that?

Well, truthfully, this is one of the most difficult things to do. Not because it is complex and complicated, but because we humans are proud and rebellious. We are not naturally open to the things of God. Our sinful nature is at war with God. Our hearts are deceitful and subconsciously we hide from God and fight against His ways. This is important to realise. Running the anti-virus on our system does not happen naturally. It must be chosen!

Also, It is not something we can do, it is only something we can give permission for God to do. It is His anti-virus. He is the IT Manager with the software instillation files. He is the only one Who can successfully run the programme on our system. He is the author and perfecter of our spiritual systems . And if you want His anti-virus to run on your system, you must surrender. There is no other way.

So how do we do this practically?

Well, I think we can really learn from the way King David approached his defects. If you read the Psalms you will see that he was brutally honest about his weaknesses. He was not affriad of his sin. Rather, he feared God and knew that there was nothing He could do to hide from Him. He bared all of himself, (good and bad) before the One Who he knew to be all powerful and able to change the deceitful heart of a fallen man. May these words from Psalm 139 become our own as we allow God to scan our systems for viruses and simultaneously fix any defects that He may find.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
  And see if there be any grievous way in me,
   and lead me in the way of everlasting life!  

#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.