God’s will and plan for His children is that they grow; that is, become mature and complete. When we ‘pass the tests’ that come into our lives we realize we have grown. There is sadness in failure - but joy in victory. Realizing that we trusted God in the midst of the test … and He brought the victory, is incredibly encouraging and humbling. James makes reference to ‘trials of many kinds’. 2 ¶ When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Let's try to list various kinds of trials - confiscation of goods, - imprisonment, - banishment - scourgings or beatings, - sickness, - poverty, - bereavement, - and any other forms of persecution, - calamities of any kind To become Mature and Complete --- we need to pass tests. Christians in other parts of the world are experiencing many of these trials. Where we live, at least for now, most of these never happen to us. Sickness is the one that affects us to the greatest degree. From God's viewpoint, it is the one test that He can give us whereby we are able to measure our 'growth'. James tells us: 3 Realise that they (the trials) come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. 4 But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character, men of integrity with no weak spots. How does God give us victory? Although He can and could do everything for us, usually He coaches us, helping us to make our own way through the trial. Wisdom is very often needed in the midst of the trial. James says, 5 And if, in the process, any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem he has only to ask God — who gives generously to all men without making them feel guilty — and he may he quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him. Here is a life example that I heard about a few years ago. A person said to me, “A Christian brother caused an incident in which my arm was broken. The ‘accident’ took place at a Christian venue, but not at my local church, nor was it at the church of my Christian brother who did this thing. I am unable to work to earn my living. And since this accident did not happen at work, there is no compensation coverage. I have enough money to last about two weeks. The doctor said I will not be able to go back to work for at least 8 weeks. How will I meet my monthly commitments for the next 6 - 8 weeks? I will be short at least $4000.00. What should I do? Besides talking to God about this, to whom should I be speaking? - Should I be asking my church for donations? - Should I be expecting my Christian friend to act responsibly for what he did? Or should my friend’s church help me? - Should I just ‘suck it up’ and get by somehow? - Should I go to the Christian venue to make an insurance claim? (I tried this and I was asked to please not do this, as their insurance premiums would increase and besides, they said, 'Christians are not supposed to take Christians to court.)' The verse they offered me was: I Corinthians 6:1 When one of you has a dispute with another believer, how dare you file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to decide the matter instead of taking it to other believers.” In desperation this person secured the services of a lawyer who said, don't worry about it. We will sue everyone involved and let the judge sort it out. The judge did sort it out and when all costs were covered, he did receive compensation for the lost wages. But in hind-sight … was this the wisest choice? Were there other options? I am not offering any absolute answers here, but only want to point out that wisdom is needed, it is offered by God … as an unconditional promise in response to our request. So, as we find ourselves in very trying circumstances, our first course of action is to ask for wisdom. God gives wisdom. How do we know? Because He has done it in the past. King Solomon prayed ... “And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?" It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him, "Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you”. 1Kings 3:7-11 Solomon asked for wisdom to serve God well, and God gave it. God still gives wisdom, just for the asking … but our ‘asking’ must be done in ‘faith’ (belief). James goes on, 6 But he must ask in sincere faith without secret doubts. For the man who doubts is like a wave of the sea, carried forward by the wind one moment and driven back the next. 7 That sort of man cannot hope to receive anything from the Lord, 8 and the life of a man of divided loyalty will reveal instability at every turn. What is the ‘key’ to believing that God will give what we ask? The Apostle John gives us the answer: We have such confidence in him that we are certain that he hears every request that is made in accord with his own plan. 15 And since we know that he invariably gives his attention to our prayers, whatever they are, we can be quite sure that what we have asked for is already ours. 1John 5:14 - 15 ¶ The key is that we ask for things … that are according to His plan. So often we ask for things that fit our plans. Since the key is asking according His plan, then it follows that we must know what His plan is. We discover His plan in His word. So far, we have discovered that it is within His plan to offer wisdom while in difficult situations, to those who ask. Since we know that this is His will, we can ask without any doubt whatsoever. Immediately after seriously asking for wisdom to help us decide an issue that will affect how or where we will be serving Him, we can say, “Thank you God for this supply of wisdom. Based on your gift, I will now proceed. Amen.” What a wonderful God we serve! He cares about us. It is when we are in the midst of trials that we are most tempted to think that He is no-where around. But according to what James is saying here, the trial is serving a purpose … God is in it … and he is waiting to hear your prayer, your 'believing' prayer, for wisdom. We are God's dear children. He cares about us and for us. God, through James tells us the key to growing up as Christians. He is implying that we cannot grow without experiencing difficulties. Our will, most of the time, is to avoid difficulties. We even take steps to place ourselves inside of our self-constructed hot-houses, where we hope to be shielded from difficult and painful experiences. But God's will is different from our will. He wants us to grow strong. Therefore He allows ... or brings hardships into our lives. He does not want us to avoid them. He wants us to welcome them. James says, 4 But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character, men of integrity with no weak spots. He allows and even brings tests into our lives so that we can grow ... and measure our growth. He wants to see us asking Him for wisdom to get through the trial. And then He wants us to look back and see what just happened. God brought (or allowed) a trial into our life. We called on Him for wisdom on how to respond to the trial. We went through the trial ... and passed the test. We are becoming mature and complete.