“You must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” - James 1:6
In his Bible commentary, Warren Wiersbe tells the story of a secretary who worked for him. Late in life she had a stroke, and her husband went blind. Then one day her husband was rushed to the hospital, where he stayed day after day. She was pretty sure that her husband would die in that hospital. When Wiersbe saw her in church, he let her know that he was praying for her. To his surprise, she asked, “What are you asking God to do?” He replied, “I’m asking God to help you and strengthen you.” She responded by saying, “I appreciate that, but could you pray one more thing? Pray that I’ll have the wisdom not to waste all of this!”
Wow! What an insightful thing to ask for: Wisdom. She understood that if you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, there is always a purpose to your pain. God never wastes trials in a Christian’s life. He works all things together for good. If you’re reading this, you’re probably a believer and follower of Jesus Christ. I hope you are. I hope that you talk to God every day. And I hope that when trials come, you talk to God … a lot! But when you’re going through some sort of trial, and you’re losing sleep, and you can’t hold back the tears … what do you pray for?
Is it all right to ask God to give you help and strength during your trial? Sure! Is it okay to ask God to make your trial go away? Yes! But perhaps the best prayer—the most important prayer that you and I could ever pray during the deepest valleys of life—is this one: “Father God, give me wisdom so that I won’t waste all of this. Help me to understand how You are using this trial for my growth and for Your glory.” You need to pray for wisdom.
James writes in verses 5-6: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt.”
When trials come, spend lots of time talking to God. Take time to pray. And, by all means, make sure that you pray for God’s wisdom so that you won’t waste your trial. Ask God for wisdom. Ask Him, for He is the Source of all wisdom. It’s been said, “Knowledge is the ability to take things apart, while wisdom is the ability to put things together.” When we’re in the middle of a trial and it feels like our lives are in a thousand different pieces, there are plenty of people who can break those 1,000 pieces into 2,000 or even 5,000 pieces. Some people in our lives are very knowledgeable about how to kick us when we’re down. But it takes wisdom to put the pieces back together. And God is the source of that wisdom. No matter how many broken pieces there are in your life right now, God can help you put them back together. He is the source of perfect wisdom. So He specializes in bringing order out of chaos and putting broken people back together again. So, ask God for wisdom.
But remember, when we ask God for wisdom, we need to ask in faith. We must “believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (vs. 6-7). Do you know what the greatest enemy to answered prayer is? Unbelief. If you pray to God for something but don’t really believe He’s going to give it to you, then you’re not going to get it. Do you know what the second-greatest enemy to answered prayer is? Doubt. James calls the man who prays with doubt a “double-minded man.” The one who prays with doubt is indecisive.
Think of Jesus’ disciple, Peter. Peter walked on water … temporarily. And he walked on water temporarily because he kept his eyes on Jesus … temporarily. He was indecisive. He believed, but then he doubted. And when he doubted—when he took his eyes off Jesus—he sank.
It boils down to this: Unbelief says “No!” to the unpleasant trials that God sends our way. Belief says “Yes!” to the trials. And doubt says “Yes!” one minute and “No!” the next. Don’t be a double-minded Christian. Keep your focus on Him.
God doesn’t want you to look DOWN. He wants you to look UP. The stuff of this world will all pass away. The rich man needs to take his eyes off of all his beautiful earthly stuff and look up, because all of his stuff will one day be left behind. And the poor man needs to take his eyes off of the rich man’s stuff and look up, because it will one day disappear. Only the eternal things of God will endure. James gives us the secret to turning our trials into triumphs: Instead of looking down at our problems, we look UP to God, asking Him for wisdom.
So, if you’ll let Him, God will work through your temporary pain for your eternal good and for the eternal good of those around you—all for His glory.
Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Join us for our worship service Sundays at 10 a.m. at the new Dr. Ralph Baker School in Victorville. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.