We circled the word if back on Day 7. At that time, we were looking for where the word was glaringly absent. We didn’t find an if in verse 2, did we? James didn’t tell us to count it all joy if we meet up with trials, because there’s no ifs about trials. We are going to have them, and James assures us that God uses them for our good.
Today we’re going to look at one of the ifs that we did find on Day 7. What if we’re having a hard time seeing anything good in the trial that overwhelms us? What if we’re dealing with a chronic, long-term problem that has drained away our joy and energy? How do we rejoice when death takes away someone who was dear to us, forever changing our lives?
Assignment: Pray before you start to study. Ask God to minister to your heart, with its disappointments, frustrations, and hurts. Ask Him to teach you, comfort you, and give you hope as you dig into His Word.
- Read or listen to the entire chapter of James 1 sometime today. (See links in Day 1.) Does this passage look different to you now, after your study of the first four verses? Do verses later in the chapter take on new meaning as you place them in the context of what we’ve learned about rejoicing in our trials?
- Turn to your marking copy of James 1 and read verses 1-5. Then reread verse 5. Let’s read this verse, considering its context. James has told us to count our trials as joy, knowing that our testing will produce maturity.
Then he says, “If any of you lacks wisdom…” Why does he bring up wisdom in this context?
Because we need wisdom in the midst of trials, wisdom to recognize that God really will redeem the worst of situations for our ultimate good. We need wisdom from His Word, truths we’ve heard and believed before but tend to forget or become numb to in the midst of hard times. We need wisdom to see our weaknesses, our idols, our fears in a way that we might never see them apart from this time of suffering that drives us into God’s arms, and we need wisdom to steer us toward God and away from anger, fear, despair, self-protection, and bitterness. Without wisdom we will not persevere in our trials and we will certainly not rejoice in them.
- So James tells us what to do if we lack wisdom. We’ve already circled the word if with a purple pen on Day 7. Now underline in purple the rest of that if phrase — “if any of you lacks wisdom.”
Most appearances of the word if are followed by a then statement. If ___ is true, then ___ is also true, or if ___ is true, then ____ should happen. The word then is not always in the statement, but it is implied. For example, “If you are going outside in the rain, (then) put on your coat.” We might not say then, but that’s what we mean.
- Look at verse 5 again. With your purple pen, draw an arrow from the if phrase to the then phrase. If we lack wisdom, what does James tell us to do? We ask God for it! And what happens then? He gives it to us! He will come alongside and teach us, guide us, comfort us, and remind us of His promises in the midst of our trials.
But that’s not all.
- Carefully read the short phrase that follows the word God in verse 5 (before the closing phrase of the verse.). We learn four things about God in this portion of the verse. 1. What does He do? 2. How does He do it? 3. Who does He do it for? 4. What is His attitude? List these four points in your notebook. Number them in your marking text, if you want, or list them in the margin of your Bible.
This is such a beautiful summary of our gracious, loving, giving God!
He gives. (We ask, and He gives.)
He gives generously. (We’ll look more at this word.)
He gives generously to all. (He has no favorites. He gives to all who are His children.)
He gives generously to all without reproach. (We’ll look at this phrase, too.)
- Open Blue Letter Bible and search for James 1:5.
- Then open the interlinear, and click the Strong’s number for men liberally.
- Copy the information under “Outline of Biblical Usage.” This word isn’t about how much God gives. It’s about how He gives. He gives simply, sincerely, without any strings attached. We haven’t earned the gift, and we aren’t indebted to Him for it. He simply delights in giving.
- Go back to the interlinear and click on the number for upbraideth.
- Read the information under “Outline of Biblical Usage.” If, like me, you’re not exactly sure what reproach means either, ask the internet to define it for you.
- It will also help if you look at the “Root Word” section of the lexicon to learn more about the origin of this word.
- Take notes on all that you read.
How often do we as mothers become exasperated at our children’s questions? Some days the questions never seem to end, and often they are questions that the children should know the answers to by now! Or we simply grow weary of giving, giving, giving, and while we may give, we add words of reproach or disapproval.
God never wearies of our requests for wisdom and understanding. He isn’t disappointed when we’re bewildered and faint at heart. He doesn’t disapprove when He hears us ask “Why?” again. We needn’t feel ashamed when we go to Him saying, “Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief.”
This is the God who promises to give wisdom to those who ask in faith! What a blessing to know He welcomes our pleas for wisdom, and what an example He gives us to imitate as we give ourselves to our children.
- Take what you have learned in this lesson, and rewrite verse 5 in your own words, incorporating the expanded meanings of words from your study.
- If it will be en encouragement to you, print out a version of your paraphrase or hand-write and decorate it, and then post it where you will see it often.
For your children:
- Review earlier memory work and start memorizing verse 5.(Copy on 3 x 5 cards, if this is not too difficult for your children.)
- Then discuss verse 5 together. Share what you have learned in your own lesson.
- Can you recall times in your life when you have been given what you asked for, but then felt indebted to or shamed by the giver? Can you remember any times when others around you were given things while you were overlooked or purposely excluded? Tell these stories.
- Then ask if the children can think of times in their own lives when they have felt the same way.
- Explain that God will never make them feel like that. He give generously to all without reproach. We can ask for wisdom, and He will give it to us.