If you haven’t noticed yet, I’ve been studying the book of James. My in-depth study of this book has naturally had the effect of pouring over into my writing. I just can’t help it! I’m learning so much through this study, and I’m the type of person that must share with others what I’m learning. I so hope that you have enjoyed the overflow.
The last three blogs have been somewhat difficult to stomach, if you know what I mean. A strong, hard word from God’s Word isn’t always easy to swallow. Today is when we can just praise God and shout for joy that every word from Him isn’t hard. The hard is, of course, necessary, but aren’t you thankful that He graciously included words of encouragement and hope? I know that I am. There are times when it seems all I can do to accept another difficult word of truth, and just at the moment when I feel I can hardly handle another, God speaks a soft word of hope and comfort. Would you join me in James chapter 5 today as we look into this hope together?
I don’t know about you, but when I read that first question in James 5:13, I want to shout out loud, “Yes!” Anybody else feel that same way sometimes? “Yes, Lord, I am in trouble, and I desperately need You now!” Don’t you just love how in the face of adversity, He gives us the prescription that we need. In this very instance, it’s prayer, which must suggest to us that prayer is a powerful tool, a weapon within our reach that can move mountains if we would engage in it. And then it goes on to pose another question:
“Is anyone happy?”
Oh, how I wish I could always shout out “yes” in response to that question, but it’s simply not always the case. Like you, I face tremendous trials and adversity that seeks to rob me of my joy, and it always does just that whenever I allow it to. Sometimes happiness seems so fleeting, like it’s here one minute and quickly vanishes the next. So, one must wonder at the prescription given to us for this specific emotion: If you’re happy, sing songs of praise (my paraphrase).
I always wanted to be a singer. Always. From the time I was a little girl, I would rehearse over and over again the songs of the ones that I wanted to sing and sound just like. I never stopped trying. There came a point, however, when it became more and more clear to me that singing simply was not my gift…and I was devastated, not to mention that I was literally surrounded by dear friends who have some of the best singing voices I’ve ever heard. Finally coming to a resolve that singing wasn’t my gift but that God had given me other gifts, I found peace in it. But I didn’t stop singing. Nope, I couldn’t. I didn’t have a stage to sing on, but I had a shower. I had a car. And sing I did in both, at the top of my lungs. No one to hear me or judge me. Just me and Jesus. I’ve always loved worship music, so I would turn it up and sing my guts out to the Lord, confident that it was a sweet sound in His ear if nothing else. What I came to experience in these times of “solo singing” was that my joy was prolonged when I was praising the Lord. Perhaps that is the very reason God prescribed singing songs of praise when we’re happy. He knows more than us that happiness is fleeting, but He also knows that when we choose to praise Him, joy abounds, and it lasts.
So, my friends, although the book of James is filled with much difficult truth and challenging calls to obedience (which are needed and necessary), hope remains. Prayer is readily available for all in trouble, and joy lingers to those who praise Him. Whichever camp you find yourself in today, I pray that you are wise to submit to the divine prescription given to us. Hope remains.