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Solving the Unsolved Mystery

Charlie Boyd - 9/25/2022


When hardship and difficulties come into your life, know this: (1) God is working in that trial to refine your faith—to make it stronger and more steadfast—to make your faith the kind of faith that can carry you through anything; and (2) If you are struggling to understand how to make it through the trial, ask God for wisdom to see what’s going on from His perspective. Ask for wisdom and believe He will show you how to put your faith into action, then ask Him for the resolve and the courage to do it.

SCRIPTURE: James 1:1-8


Have you ever been going through a trial of some kind, something unexpected, something that shakes you to the core—something that actually tempts you to doubt the goodness of God or even the existence of God—and in the midst of the adversity, you say to a someone: "I just don't know what God is trying to teach me through all this." Have you wondered about that? Well, this morning, I want to share with you the answer to that question. It’s not that I have been blessed with some special insight, but this is one of those "unsolved mysteries" that God actually explains. It's not something he wants us to wonder about or worry about. In fact, this is something he absolutely wants us to know. “Why does God let 'bad' things happen to the people he loves?" We find the answer in the book of James.

Last week, in our overview of the book of James, we learned: 

  • The life of faith is a life of difficulty.
  • Only a faith that expresses itself in visible, tangible actions will get you through those trials. 

We saw how, in this life, on this side of eternity, an unapplied faith is useless, worthless, and dead (2:14-17). This week (1:1-8), we will look at how (1) God uses trials to develop steadfast faith in us. In other words, whenever we encounter any kind of trial or trouble, we are to consider, to know that God is using that trial to “test” our faith. Not so much to see if our faith is genuine, but the word “test” means to “refine”—like the process of purifying gold by heating it up to burn off the impurities. In a time of trial (“testing” refining), God is working in us to refine our faith—removing the impurities of doubt and self-sufficiency in order to strengthen our faith. When understood from this perspective, James says, it’s possible to walk through any trial with an undercurrent of joy. Our Heavenly Father is absolutely committed to this agenda for your life and mine (1:1-4). Second, if we ask him, God will give us the wisdom we need to make it through the trial stronger in our faith (1:5-8). Asking God for wisdom in the trial is not so much asking “why” (James has just told us “why”). Rather, it has more to do with asking God “how”—How do I live out my faith in this trial? How do I put my faith into action in the middle of this mess? In Hebrew, “wisdom” means skill in living—understanding how things really are from God’s perspective and acting accordingly. And, (this is very important), when we ask God for wisdom, (when we ask God to show us how to walk through the trial and come out the other end with our faith stronger), we are to ask without doubting (vv6-8). Doubting is wavering faith. It’s going back and forth between what we say we believe about God and the voices in our head that are telling us it’s all a lie. 

What James is saying in this passage is that in the middle of our trials, when you go to God for wisdom, you are to pray from this vantage point: "God, I still trust you. God, I still believe in you. God, this isn't a question of ‘if You don’t, then I won’t.” …“This isn't about what I'm going to do if you fix this mess or what I'm not going to do if you don't do something to fix this mess.”…“God, I'm not going to argue with you. I'm not going to bargain with you. I'm not going to doubt you. God, I trust you, but I need some wisdom. I need to see all this like you see this. I need to see “how” I am supposed to act, what I'm supposed to do next to walk by faith in the middle of this mess." And James says, God will honor that prayer. God will answer that prayer because he wants us to have steadfast faith, not wavering faith.

Let me put it this way. James is saying, Believing prayer results in steadfast faith. Believing prayer is telling God, you want to see things as He sees things—telling God you want Him to complete His work of refining your faith—telling God that, by His grace and by His Spirit, you will hold on to Him no matter what. Believing prayer is asking God for the wisdom to know how to put your faith into action and trusting Him to show you. In a very real sense, your faith must be verbalized before joy can be realized. You have to pray your faith, affirm your faith, and ask God for wisdom when your faith is shaky, in order to experience the undercurrent of joy in the midst of the terrible trials that come into your life.

God loves us so much that he is willing to use hard and hurtful things to bring us joy. He’s willing to allow pain and loss to come into our lives in order to purge from us anything that distracts us from confident trust in who he is and what he has already done for us on the Cross. God works to replace doubt with confidence. God works to replace self-sufficiency with total dependence on him because he knows that will bring about our highest joy. So, here's the challenge this week. Would you be willing to look at whatever you are facing right now from God’s perspective? And, instead of asking for a way out—(and, I'm not saying it’s wrong to ask for a way out)—but to add to that prayer, "God, would you grant me wisdom to see what's happening to me right now the way You see it? “…“God, would you show me how to walk by faith in the midst of all this? And God, I pray that at the end of the day, my faith would not collapse under the weight of all this pressure, but that I would be stronger, more committed, more convinced, and more faithful because of how you will take me through all this. Oh God, give me the wisdom that leads to unwavering, steadfast faith and unimaginable joy.” 

Would you pray that way?

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