being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.James 1:8(NASB)
We are told in Hebrews that without faith it is impossible to please God. Firstly, we must trust Him for salvation by grace through faith in Christ's finished work at Calvary. Secondly, as born-again Christians we must continue to believe in the truth of His Word, to trust in His many precious promises, and to have faith that He hears and answers prayer.
In his epistle, it seems that James is taking us on a spiritual journey. He explains how God uses the suffering in our life as a way to test our faith, for James knows that faith in God must be exercised, even when we do not see or understand the reason for our pain: "For the testing of our faith produces patient-endurance, which must flourish and develop so that as we grow in grace, we may become spiritually mature - perfect, as our Father in heaven is perfect, complete and lacking nothing."
So often when we are suffering, we cry out to God for help and strength which is a natural thing to do, but too often we forget that the Lord has given us all we need for life and godliness, and we tend to forget that God uses these times of suffering to develop our faith.
We therefore need to be careful that we do not miss the spiritual lesson God desires to teach us in our pain. And so the next step in James' spiritual journey is that during times of suffering, it is not simply God's strength for which we need to plead, but His wisdom also. And if we do lack wisdom, we are instructed to ask of God for it, because He gives it generously and without reproach to all who trust in Him.
It is not simply getting through the trials and tribulations of life that is important, but coming through victoriously by exercising our faith in Him and learning the lesson that God is teaching us. We should never waste the circumstances of life, but ask for His wisdom as well so that we may grow in grace and spiritual understanding, knowing that "all things work together for good to those that love God and are fitting into His plan."
And so we reach the next step in our journey through James. We are to pray for wisdom, but we are to pray in faith. We are to pray trusting God to answer our prayers. We are to pray believing that God hears and answers the cries of His children, for without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him diligently.
But when we pray, we are to ask in faith, without doubting and without unbelief in our heart: "For the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven to and fro and tossed about by the winds of change." When we approach the throne of grace for wisdom and strength, we are to be sure that our faith is in God alone and that our prayers are not empty words.
We are not to waver in our petitions to the Lord, for a person who fluctuates between belief and doubt is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed about by the winds of unbelief and uncertainty. About these people, James eventually tells us: "Such a man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord."
People who pray with seeds of doubt planted in their mind and the shadowy clouds of disbelief darkening their heart, are described by James as those who are "double-minded and unstable in all they do."
Let us travel our journey of faith-in-God and learn the lessons of suffering so that we may grow in grace and mature in the faith. And let us make every effort to learn the lessons that God would teach us in our times of pain and ask for His wisdom without doubting, knowing that He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him.
Let us pray in faith and watch for His answers as we look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.
Heavenly Father, help me to learn the lessons that You would teach me in life, especially during those times of sadness and suffering, and give me the wisdom I need so that I do not waste the opportunities, knowing that the testing of my faith produces steadfastness. May I always approach Your throne of grace in faith and without doubting. I praise and thank You for the good work that You are doing in my life. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.