God Hasn’t Distanced Himself from Us: James 1:1–18

Editor’s note: Today we are starting a series that will walk us through the book of James. In these uncertain times, we hope this book and our writers’ reflections on it will give you hope and practical wisdom for continuing in the journey. We’d encourage you to read the passage for the day and then the day’s post. Then ask God to help you apply this section of Scripture to your life. It’s a promise:“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5). Yes, Lord, may it be so for our readers. 

I could hear her weeping over the phone as I pleaded to the Lord on her behalf. Her story was all too familiar. I hear it often from women who are desperate and exasperated over their husbands’ sin. She didn’t know what to do; she didn’t know where to turn. 

Gently, I encouraged her to trust the Lord and pray for His will. Those words caused a shift, and an avalanche of fear seized her heart. As all the unknowns flooded her mind, the tears began to fall. 

“I’m afraid of what that might look like,” she whispered. 

Her current, familiar heartache felt more comfortable to her than trusting God to move. How often we choose our current state over the depth of intimacy that God desires with and for us! 

But I understood. I’d been there myself. I remember well all the ways that sorrow and anguish felt more like family at our table, while joy remained a distant relative I barely knew.

No one wishes their life to be full of tears and sorrows. But the reality is that we will face grief, fear, worry, and loneliness that will threaten our joy, our obedience, and our faith in God.

But God hasn’t left us or distanced Himself from us in our time of need. James reminds us:

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (1:17)

We often equate good with how comfortable we are or how safe we feel. God desires us and loves us too much to leave us in our current condition, so He calls us to walk in obedience through hard places, so we might resemble Christ more. While we receive countless undeserved blessings in this life, the best thing that will ever enter our lives is a relationship with our Creator. Our trials should cause us to seek Him more earnestly and desire Him above all that fails us in the world. That pursuit isn’t just good. It is glorious. 

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)

In everything we walk through, around every dark corner, and on every unknown trail we set our feet upon, the Lord is with us and has hemmed us in. As believers, there is no place, no matter how painful or terrifying, where His Spirit is not within us. 

Even though it often takes time before we see His response, every tear we cry, every moment of silence, and every desperate prayer uttered isn’t wasted or forgotten. He uses our waiting to whittle away at our doubts, our fears, and our ingrained patterns of self-preservation.

Trials test our faith and reveal to others where our faith lies. 

I have no desire to slip back into the years when I prayed and waited for my husband’s restoration out of addiction, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. On the other side of that journey, I can now count it all as “necessary.” Without having walked through treacherous ravines, I would not be as confident in the Lord’s hand. 

I had limited vision and knowledge as to how the Lord was working over those two decades I prayed for my beloved. But now, I see clearly how every ounce of it was good. Painful, yes, but so necessarily good. Through all the tears and grief and crying out, He was working His goodness so we might bear fruit that lasts and has kingdom impact.

You might be experiencing a great faith gap right now. Your fear of what lies ahead may be overwhelming. You may fear praying for the will of God in your life. God isn’t asking you to be a spiritual giant, nor is He asking you to defeat the giants you face. He’s asking you to place your hope and trust in Him. 

He knows exactly where your faith lies today. He desires to increase your faith for the sake of your relationship with Him and your testimony to others. It is not wrong if you are struggling. It is an opportunity to cry out to God. It is an opportunity for Him to prove Himself faithful to your doubting and tossed about heart.

If we never have needs, how will we know the relief and wonder of the Savior swooping in to rescue us? If we do not wrestle with doing what is good, how then can we trust that our sanctification is the holy work of God’s loving hand? God knows exactly where you are in this moment in your faith walk, and He knows exactly what you need that your faith might increase.

The first chapter of James wraps around our sagging shoulders in these times. It is words of love from the Father, pulling us in, telling us that there is a purpose for all that we face: what we fear and hope to avoid, the unknowns, and great sorrows.

But like the woman on the phone, don’t we desire healing, restoration and redemption? Have we not been crying out, beseeching God Almighty to move, to work, to bring the lost and wearied to Him? Have we not cried out for healing of our land? Have we not humbly said to Him, “Lord, have Thy will”?

Then we must believe that the Lord has heard our cries. In response, we can trust that however He moves, it aligns perfectly with His goodness towards us and the holiness He is growing within us.

Did you discover God’s Truth today?

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About the Author

Joy McClain

Joy McClain

Through writing, teaching, and speaking, Joy helps women understand their redemptive position in Christ. She has authored the book Waiting on His Heart; Lessons from a Wife Who Chose to Stay. Married to her beloved for over three decades, Joy and her husband are passionate about discipling the wearied and wounded in the context of a farm setting where biblical applications abound. They have four children and five beautiful grandchildren.

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