“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5, AV)
In 1994, just before the Winter Olympics, there were two prominent female figure skaters destined to compete in the U.S. championships and then the Olympics. They were Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding. The day before the National Championships, Nancy Kerrigan was attacked after a practice session. The attack was orchestrated by Harding’s ex-husband in an effort to eliminate Kerrigan from the competition since she was favored to win the gold medal. All the television stations revealed a video clip of Kerrigan immediately after the attack, where she repeatedly cried out, “Why?”
“Why?” is a question that we often cry out in our hearts when we experience trying situations in our lives. These situations may be due to illnesses, financial worries, relationship problems, personal attacks, persecutions, struggles with temptations, etc. Basically, it is anything that plagues us or does not go the way we think it should. In those times, we ask the question, “Why?”
Here James writes to the believers in the context of trials. He tells them that when they encounter trials, they should ask of God. Often when we encounter trials, we shout out, “Why?” as an emotional response to the situation. We may voice the question with no intended purpose other than to express our discomfort and bewilderment. Normally, when we encounter trials, our prayers are filled with requests for deliverance such as, “God get me out of this mess!” Yet, rather than asking for deliverance, James tells us that we are to ask God for wisdom. However, in these situations, we rarely seek the wisdom from above.
Later in the letter, James tells us that “the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17, AV). What we need when we endure trials is wisdom and the only true source of wisdom is from above.
James states that when we ask God for wisdom, He will give it to us liberally, holding nothing back. So, what is this wisdom that God will give us? God’s wisdom is not just knowledge alone. It is the application of divine truth in the forming of the best understanding of the situation, and the best responses in the situation that are in accordance with His sovereign purposes. God may give us a glimpse into the trial’s greater purposes in our lives. He will also give us the wisdom necessary to negotiate the trial with dignity and grace so as to bring glory and honor to Him.
It seems that we grow in this ability to properly ask for this wisdom and then apply it as we walk by faith in this world. A necessary ingredient is the word of God in our lives. The more we grow in our understanding of the Bible, the more prepared we will be to gain this wisdom. Yet, there still is a much-needed supernatural and divine element that will take the biblical truths we know and grant us application in life. This is the perfect wisdom that comes in abundance when we ask of God for it.
(More on this in the next devotion.)