Though my business fails, though I become unemployed, though I lose my home, though my cancer is incurable, though the stock market crashes, though my marriage ends in divorce, though my friends forsake me, though my dreams die, though my husband is murdered, though my wife runs off with another man, though my health deteriorates – yet will I worship the Lord. What if? How will you survive?
Verses 1 & 2 in Genesis 39 present a paradox. In verse 1 we are told that Joseph was sold for a second time as a slave, yet verse two tells us that Joseph became a successful man. Does that make sense? It seems that nothing had gone right and that things would get worse. Yet, Joseph became a successful man? How can that be? Let’s dig a little deeper, and brace yourself for success.
I love stories with happy endings. Yet, how do we handle life when happy endings don’t come? What happens when no rescue takes place? What happens when the alcoholic does not sober up? What happens when a marriage ends in divorce? What happens when cancer takes the life of its victim? What happens when a teenager does not come home to parents? Such questions not only stand at the heart of Habakkuk’s book, but they also plague our own lives. What then?
Through twelve verses, James offered information from God concerning the trials of life, that is, the outward circumstances that rail against us. In verse 13, James switched direction and began to instruct his readers, not about attacks from without, but attacks from within. He addressed the inner solicitation to evil that is characteristic in all of us. Unbelievably, James’ readers believed that God was responsible not only for the temptations they faced but for their own propensity to sin. Is that what you believe? If not, just how do you deal with temptation and its results?
Jealousy is not the result of what we see wrong in someone else. Jealousy the result of what we see wrong ourselves. However, instead of facing up to our own deficiency, we cover the deficiency by belittling the one whom we actually perceive as having more on the ball than do we. Of course, we would never admit it! Is there a cure? Yes!
Poverty for first century believers was more the rule than the exception. Consequently, one might think that James would offer some stinging statements condemning poverty – he did not. One might think James would have ragged on the wealthy about giving to the poor – he did not. One might think that James would have set forth a plan for upward movement from one socio-economic class to another as the solution to the fiery trial of poverty – he did not. Then, what did he do?