Suffering Reminds Us of God’s Wisdom, and Our Inadequacy (James 1:5)

James in verse two of this book encourages his readers to do something incredibly strange by being cheerful when facing a trial, or test from God (James 1:2). He proceeds to explain this painful experience is actually a blessing because it develops endurance (1:3) and a healthy character (1:4). In verse five he now changes focus from ourselves, to our relationship with God.

God in this verse is described as a Loving Father who enjoys helping his Children.  While this is true James doesn’t share it so we will demand things of God (there are individuals who WON”T receive wisdom from the Lord 1:6–7). Instead he is explaining to us a very encouraging truth.

You don’t have to have all the answers

James phrases the beginning of 1:5 as “if any of you lack wisdom” but he could say “when you lack wisdom” because one of the most frustrating parts of a trial/test is confusion.

Often in suffering we are unable to think about things logically since we are in an emotional state of mind (I suffer with this a lot). If this isn’t an issue, then we face the greater challenge of not knowing which one of our many options is the RIGHT choice to make. And most of us know what it feels like to stare at option F as options A-E have failed and constantly second guess ourselves.

In that moment of confusion and frustration James reminds us that God will give us wisdom if we turn to Him.

Last month I was struggling with a problem that couldn’t be fixed no matter how hard I tried. Finally one afternoon in frustration I took a walk through the neighborhood praying to the Lord [1]

In the middle of that walk a small thought came into my mind, and I knew that was what God wanted me to do…later on that night I had peace for the first time in three days because God I knew God was working things out for His Glory [2]. To make a long story short, last week God worked everything out in a way that only He could.

James 1:5 is an encouragement to us (God will give wisdom) but also a challenge because we see it’s God’s job to lead (guide and make decisions) instead of ours. Our job instead of making decisions is to trust Him (James 1:6–7). King Solomon worded this beautifully in the book of Proverbs

Prov. 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge him (my job), and he will make straight your paths (God’s job).

So we see that this is another reason to rejoice when trials come…because there’s nothing like a trial to clarify whose job is whose. And keep me from trying to do God’s instead of my own.

The bottom line of this verse is one of hope because in our darkest moments God has promised we will hear Him whispering.


[1]: much of it was done out loud so my neighbor’s now probably think I’m crazy!

[2]: birthday cake oreos did have something to do with that as well 🙂

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