Seek Wisdom in Trials
James continues his sermon (for that is how it reads): “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James makes this statement in the context of what he has just discussed—“trails of various kinds”—which in this case means persecution. This is not what we would expect. James has spoken of trials producing steadfastness. The Apostle Paul adds endurance, character, and hope (Romans 5:3-4). And in the midst of persecution, we generally desire to be delivered and ask for strength in the interim.
But James says that in the midst of persecution, we should ask for wisdom. And why might this be? Is it perhaps so that we might understand what God is doing with us through this trial in our lives? So that we can look at it through the eyes of faith? So that we might use this trial that it may have its perfect work in our lives? I have heard politicians say that national calamities should never be wasted—and generally to some selfish and mercenary end. But this should especially be true for the Christian who should never waste the opportunity that trials afford for growing closer to the Lord and, as James says, growing in wisdom.
We are told in several places in Proverbs that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (9:10). Trials drive us to the Lord when we might not have driven ourselves there on our own accord. We learn that we cannot live this life without Him, that there are so many things in this life that we can do without, that the Kingdom is so much more important, that our priorities are often all wrong, and that God still judges sin and calls us to repentance in painful ways. But wisdom also reminds us that this is the way God loves us—by pruning and chipping away from us the dross which we would not allow happier times to cut away. Wisdom trusts God even in—especially in—hard times.
The Apostle Paul says, “For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Galatians 6:3). Even the pagan Socrates knew that the beginning of wisdom was the confessing of one’s ignorance. Let us not be more foolish than unbelievers. Let us humble ourselves beneath God’s mighty hand and allow that there are many things we do not understand, and that trials and tribulations are one method whereby God teaches us many things. Then we shall look upon them as the tests and opportunities for faith that they are.