Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Don't Drown in Life's Stormy Seas. Rest in God's Control

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. (James 1:6)

Some might like to take this tiny phrase and pull it out of the context of the surrounding paragraphs to suggest that no matter what we ask, if we have enough faith, God will give it to us. Some might take a similar approach and suggest that God will not give us something (which he otherwise would) because our faith is not strong enough, or because we have doubts.

This is not James’ point.

photo by Phil Jameson
James is telling his readers not to doubt that God has heard and answered their prayer. When they ask for wisdom, God may allow them a trial from which they will learn perseverance, and then become complete (full of wisdom). James does not want to see his brothers, while in the throws of suffering, doubt that God has answered their prayer. He wants them to believe.

Wisdom is the result of our knowledge being applied to our experience. We cannot gain wisdom without a variety of experiences, both good and “bad”. Therefore, when we ask God for wisdom, we should expect a variety of experiences, both easy and difficult. Rather than view our suffering as a sign that God has rejected our prayers, James wants us, in faith, to recognize that the difficulties we are facing ARE God’s answer to our prayer.

As the opposite of faith, doubt is a state we find ourselves in when we are uncertain that God is in control. Those who are not completely sure of God's ability find it necessary to exert their own effort and energy to control every situation. Rather than persevere through a trial to discover what God is doing, they are more likely to exhaust themselves trying to fix the trial, and in the process, miss the gift God is giving them.

When times are good, they believe God is blessing them; but when times are bad, they assume God has lost control and the resolution is now dependent on them. (Of course, very few people would consciously suggest that God has lost control; but their unwillingness to patiently be joyful in suffering demonstrates their lack of belief that God is in control)

A balance in life is lacking for those who are unconvinced of God’s sovereignty. Like waves of the sea, they are up and down, back and forth; driven into exuberance and depression by whatever situation enters their life. Unable to rest in God’s hands, they often drown in life’s stormy seas.

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