This month I want to examine how we respond to problems. Isn’t it strange that for some people things just keep on going wrong, whereas for others life seems so straightforward and a walk in the park?
Yesterday for instance, we had our outside drains blocked and our scanner wouldn’t work. This meant a mini flood in our basement and not being able to send an important document by email.
Neither were extremely serious and by the end of the afternoon they were both resolved, but the important point is that I had armed myself with some serious life changing advice from the Apostle James.
In the first section of his letter he wrote: “Consider it wholly joyful my brothers whenever you encounter trials of any sort or fall into any temptations,” (Jam.1: 2 Amp.).
Well an indoor stinky flood and a scanner that refused to scan, in my opinion could be classified as trials. Small ones I agree, but they had the potential to annoy me. But they didn’t! Because of the secret that James reveals.
“Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and patience. But let patience do a thorough work so that you may be perfectly and fully developed with no defects and lacking nothing,” (Jam. 1: 3 Amp.).
What James explains is that when a new problem hits us, if our attitude is that here is another opportunity to grow up and be more patient, then I’m going to do just that. I will not moan and use bad language, I can stay calm and look upon it as just a test.
When the plumber and the local council cleared our drains I had stayed patient, letting the test have “its perfect work”. Now that for me is real progress. I got at least a 9/10 or maybe a 10/10 on this trial. Before I had put James’ advice into action I’m sure I would have got tense, impatient with my misfortune and defaulting to complaining. My wife and my dogs would have unjustly suffered!
You see, going through trials with a mature attitude develops patience. It isn’t a gift of the Spirit, it is a fruit and as such has to be cultivated. This doesn’t happen by chance but by choice, over and over choosing to let patience’s roots go deeper into our soul.
OK. While we are in James chapter 1, let me share with you another pearl.
Faced with a new type of situation like how to download a new piece of software from the internet to make the scanner work, I needed wisdom. So again following James’ advice: “If any of you is deficient in wisdom let him ask God Who gives to everyone without reproaching or fault finding,” (Jam. 1: 5).
Facing a new situation we cannot rely on past experience to help us. We find ourselves on new ground.
The big mistake that is so easy to make, is to panic and try and sort things out on our own. Jesus warned us clearly: “Without Me you can do nothing,” (John 15: 5). So we should not make our own plans and then ask God to bless them after we have run into difficulty.
Our Father wants us to humbly acknowledge our limitations and our need of His help and His wisdom. He created us to be dependant on His help and His Holy Spirit. He’s not angry with us when we ask for help. On the contrary He wants us to ask.
What situations are you confronting at the moment?
Whatever they are you are either going to go through them easily and with confidence, if you can see the opportunity of learning more patience and how to hear His wisdom, or you can struggle and get sicker and weaker and moan about why it’s day after day of more problems and pain.
God is not the One sending the bill you can’t pay, or the new pain in your body. However He is watching to see if we are following this type of practical advice from the top man of the team, the Apostle James (Acts 15:13). He grew up in the same household as Jesus. He learnt these Godly attitudes from his half Brother.
It would be smart if we learnt them too. Life would gradually become easier as we throw off the snakes that try and attach themselves to us (Acts 28:3). Our attitude should be: ‘You’re not going to rob me of my joy devil’. Throw him off into the fire like Paul did in Malta.
Take an aggressive and unyielding attitude of faith and patience. You’re a winner and although it may be a new learning curve, hold tight and enjoy the ride.