This morning I finished the book of James in my daily bible reading. It is through the lens of James that I would like to talk with you today. As my CSB She Reads Truth Bible Hardcover explains “ The Book of James is unlike any other book in the New Testament. While it reads like a letter, it often adopts the stark style of Proverbs, the rhetorical strength of an Old Testament prophet, and the structure of a sermon.” One of the most notable lessons that James repeats here is that of endurance. We must have endurance for the seasons of our lives. What does endurance have to do with a jealous God you might be asking, don’t worry I will get there.
The truth is that we go through many seasons in the life God has blessed us with; Seasons of change, sadness, joy, difficulty, peace, and a thousand other emotions that swirl about major decisions to times of stagnation. Seasons can also pile on top of one another for each part of our life can be going through a different season. Work could be going through a season of change while your marriage could be going through a season of stagnation for example.
In the past ten years I have gone through many seasons of change in my life, from graduating high school and college, seeking employment, moving from New York to Florida, and then from Florida to Texas. I have gone through a season of relationships to a season of singleness. I have gone from living on my own to living with my family again. Overlapping all of this has been a season of growing depression and increasing anxiety.
Giving my life over to Christ did not end these problems as I had hoped, but instead, I became obsessed with finding out what a “good Christian” was, and fell prey to the worlds definition and not Gods grace. My anxiety increased and my depression deepened as my relationship with Christ did not. I was fighting an inner battle where left hand clung to the world, and my right to Christ. I don’t think James was actually talking about enduring this particular struggle of wills. Yet at the same time maybe he was. In Chapter 1 verse 1-3 James explains:
Dear brothers and sisters,[a] when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
The truth is that I never had to go through this season of great confliction if I had only truly trusted the love and grace my savior gave to me on this side of the cross. Yet in enduring this great inner turmoil as the world and word fought with in my heart my faith ultimately became deeper for it, and my heart all consuming for the grace and incomparable compassion God has for us all. It was when I finally let go of the world and fully focused on the hand the clung to God that my season changed.
This is where jealousy plays in the life of God’s children. He wants our full attention, and although His grace and love is given to us freely when we accept his ultimate sacrifice in our hearts, but the depth of his gifts will never be reached when our eyes are still focused, even a little bit, on the dictates or happenings of the world. James clearly illustrates this when he asks in chapter 4 verse 5:
Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?
Although any love found here on earth is but a fraction of what God is capable and does give us, God can still be likened to an earthly lover seeking the attention of favor of the one he loves. Would you like it if your boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife sought the attention, advice, council, understanding, answers or shared their joys, hardships, and most importantly love with others before you? God feels the same way but when we align ourselves humbly in Gods presence and seek with an open heart for his will, than and only than, nothing will be deprived from us. James explains it best in chapter 4 as he leads up to verse 5:
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? (Emphasis mine) Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?
Lets face it God is, and always will be, faithful, but we often times are not no matter how hard we try. I know I have been adulterous in my relationship with God. In so many ways I sought validation through the worlds standards, breaking the heart of my Heavenly father in the process, and strengthening the hold of my anxiety and depression.
Yet when I turned away from what the world claimed, and sought what Jesus Christ said, my prayers were answered. Soon after fully recommitting my life to God and making prayer and bible reading a daily habit my prayers were answered: not only did this have a calming effect on me, it was determined that I have Hypothyroidism, which has caused many of the physical ailments that I have dealt, and is a root cause for a rise in depression and anxiety.
My point here is that God gives abundantly when we honestly and humbly seek his face. It isn’t easy, and the war we wage on ourselves can leave lasting damage if we do not seek the healing grace of God. I am still battle the effect Hypothyroidism has on me. Just because you get answers does not mean the hardships disappear, but they are manageable when you are not facing them alone. That’s the peace God gives us, the knowledge that whatever season we are in we do not have to endure it alone.