The letter from James is full of very practical instructions, written to “all God’s people scattered over the whole world”. That’s a fairly comprehensive reader base and it includes us!
James deals with all manner of subjects – riches and poverty, faith and actions, wisdom, guarding our speech, judging others, prayer – and he is at pains to remind us that faith and action go hand-in-hand.
He begins with the uncomfortable subject of trials and temptations. “When trials come your way …” he says. “When” not “if”. Facing difficulties is a normal part of life and being a Christian does not provide immunity from that. James points out that what we have in our armoury is the gift of prayer, which will enable us to persevere through the difficulties. If we are unable to pray, we have friends who will pray for us and a God who cares about us, through good and bad.
At some stage in our lives, trials beset us all, and (like me) you probably marvel at the way some people deal with everything life throws at them. Maybe a couple desperate to have children, who suffer one miscarriage after another; maybe a friend whose life seems to have lurched from crisis to crisis over many years; maybe a disabled person whose serenity and contentment is an inspiration.
James encourages us to remain faithful under duress and to remember that “every good gift comes from God … who does not change ...”