James 5:13 – 18
13Are any of you suffering hardships?
You should pray.
Are you happy? You should sings praises
James does not beat around the bush in this scripture, or in the rest of the book of James. I like him for that. I really, really struggled with reading my bible even after taking the steps to get to know God through His Word. But when I came across the book of James, I could not stop reading it. His words are straight to the point. They were beautifully harsh and gave me a wake up call on a lot the things that I was doing or had done that did not please God. It was like I was reading my own diary and the harsh reality was shocking. A veil was being lifted and I could see my faults. When you have lived in the World for so long, everything becomes normalised.
Normal for me was drinking hard liquor on a train so I would be buzzed before arriving to an event….
For now, I will just say that I was and still am grateful to James for his sobering words.
James rightly advises that we should pray in hardships. Most of the time you want to do the opposite; say crawl into bed and let the covers comfort you instead.
During happy moments, we should sing praises. I would say most times we remember to praise God for the blessings but other times, more often we get caught up in the blessing that we give a measly praise and instead revel in what this blessing means for us, our future etc. It is easy to get distracted by blessings as well as hardships. I am raising my hands to that ✋.
We or should I say I, easily confine blessings to a box. A jack in the box that is opened once in a while lol (not trying to offend God but this is from my skewed lens). It is easy to be complicit in the ‘routine’ of our lives, the ups and downs, to be accustomed to the system of curvatures that unite the good thoughts to the bad. When I receive a blessing, I am so happy but the hard truth is that I need to be more sensitive to the blessings that are not conspicuous to a generation that only notices ‘big blessings’.
We are blessed everyday.
What is even more exciting is that there are blessings waiting to be released to us dwelling in the Spiritual realms, the Heavens (there are three you know, brush up on your Heavenology. Paul refers to the Third Heaven in 2 Corinthians 12:2).
Hard to imagine?
We believe God to be all knowing. That He knows our future so ipso facto (love that word) He knows the blessings and hardships that await us. He knows the hardships that will turn to blessings if we just stand by Him; the result is that we develop our selves through these hardships instead of succumbing to perpetual defeat and fear.
This is easier said than done for the normal man, but again we need to step away from the ideas of normality: that we are just average, common-folk. Your outside may look normal but your Spirit is not, for the Spirit of God dwells in you, The Holy Spirit. We are called to be so much more and already are so much more from the moment we accepted Jesus as our Saviour, and was baptised with The Holy Spirit.
James 5: 16-17
The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonder.
Elijah was just as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months
James does not even give us the time to dwell in normality or self-pity: he refers to to a man who “was as human as we are“, a man made up of flesh and bones, just like we are. A man, who had eyes, lips and ears just as you do. Who encountered hardships, good and bad days. A man who was not perfect and did not have a spotless mind of which I am positive the devil sought to attack it, just as he tries with all of God’s children, including you and I.
Yet this very same man with all his humanity and ‘normality’ prayed without ceasing, prayed “earnestly” in faith, that God would answer his prayer with a divine reaction. And God did.
[Elijah] prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.
California is still dealing with the effects of the recent drought. We know and believe that the drought exists. Why? Because it has been reported in the media, we have seen the effects with our eyes or read about it. Also, even those who have not seen or read about it can believe it to be true because of the experienced unpredictability of ‘Mother Nature’ and we believe in Mother Nature’s power.
So if we can believe that ‘mother nature’ is such an obscure force that can not be controlled or reckoned with, and can cause a state-wide drought, then what is stopping you from believing that that prayer is equal, if not more of a force to be reckoned with.
The difference between nature and power is that we are the driving force behind our prayers. Prayer is a gift. How we choose to pray, when we choose to pray, how long we pray etc. are all factors that God gives us free will to pursue or not.
‘Mother Nature’ is temperamental; we do not know what side of the bed she woke up from or how she is feeling on any given day. Sure we can predict by monitoring her patterns, but we cannot control her.
But here we have a greater force than can even submit Mother Nature to it’s will, just like Elijah did. How? Through prayer. God created everything on this Earth including the wind currents, tides of the sea and the Moon that controls the tides etc. If He created it, He can also control it. So it makes sense to pray to Him for help.
Prayer provides us the opportunity to petition God to intervene on matters concerning the Earth; it’s inhabitants and our lives on the Earth. God does what He Wills, yes, but it is all to show forth His Glory. He is not a God who is drunk with power. He is not Henry VIII. He created power, true power not man wielding power.
There is power in prayer, aside from the miracles that we hear of or choose to not believe in. Try praying without ceasing concerning a particular issue. It could be as small as a pain in your mouth. But when you pray you must have faith. Elijah had the faith; the gall to open his mouth and pray to an invisible God that rain should not fall on the land. Then he had the audacity to pray again to God that after 3 years that the rain should fall on the land.
James 5: 18
And he prayed again, and the Heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit
You do not have to pray for actual rainfall in order to get a response from the Heavens.
There is still a release from Heaven from an earnest prayer offered for a painful wisdom tooth. Operative word is earnest: from the heart, in faith.
James 1: 5- 6
“If you need wisdom ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind”
I know a lot of people talk about faith and say you must have faith. When I first came to God, the word faith amongst Christians was so popular that it was like talking to a parrot. I would ask “but what about if I do not have a lot of faith?”
What about the people who are faithless? What about those of us who have so many questions for this God that you are so ecstatic to talk about Him but are unable to empathise with someone who does not Him?
I have been there (and the devil would like me to think that I am still there, but I am not).
One thing I would advise is PRAY.
Speak to God – “look I do not have enough faith to believe all these things that people say about You; the miracles that Jesus performed; that You bless Your children; how do I know that I am truly Your child or that You want me?; that Jesus dying on the cross means that all my sins, past and future, are forgiven; that You can and will help me with the realities of my family life”
All of this and more, present to Him through prayer. No matter how messed up and twisted they sound out loud.
And be honest because He already knows so there is no point holding back. I think a lot of Christians hold back from God. I do sometimes but I am speaking to Him about it. We want to be perfect in His eyes but only Jesus is perfect. But we are His “prized possessions” and He loves you so much that He sent His perfect Son to die a criminal’s death for you.
He choose to give birth to us by giving us His true word. And we, out of all creation, became His prized possessions.
His true Word is Jesus (John 1:1-2 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was at the beginning with God” NKJV)
Another life-changing tip is to pray for the strengthening of your faith. This is something I do repeatedly. Just because you accepted Christ as your Saviour and are forming an intimate relationship with your Father, God, does not mean the troubles will not come. They will come. Troubles can wash up on your front door with a quickness that will shock Doomsday Preppers. But with God you do not have to remain stupefied, we have Spiritual weapons and God as our protector against the harshest of waves.
Also, sometimes we need to welcome the waves because they make us seasoned to all types of troubles so that we can even help someone and lead them to the person who guided (and continues to guide) us through these storms, Jesus.
James 1: 2 – 4
Dear brothers and sisters, 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 filly developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing”
With that I bid you adieu. I am off to take my own advice, well actually James’ advice.