"consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. if any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."
- james 1:2-5 (niv)
i shouldn't be surprised that this verse has shown up in my life multiple times over the past month or so. in a sermon at church, in a daily devotional reading, underlined next to another suggested reading in james 2 for an entirely different devotion. it's one of those verses we hear a lot as Christians that is supposed to make us feel better when life is hard. but i'd be lying if i said it always did.
i recognize that by comparison, being unemployed isn't really a "trial" like other things. people have it much, much worse than me. i think, however, that the trial for me over the past few months (year-and-a-half, really) is not being jobless, but being so unsure about where my life is moving and how God wants to use me. i feel like things have been unsettled, up in the air, on hold for quite a while now and as i prefer to have a plan, and lots of mini-plans to execute the big plan, along with lists outlining the mini-plans, i am extremely frustrated to say the least. i feel like i'm waiting for my life to start, to feel permanent, to feel like i'm working toward a goal. instead i feel like i'm treading water, and i'm getting tired.
last night while discovering this passage again entirely unintentionally, verse five jumped out at me instead of the others. if we lack wisdom, to ask and it will be given to us. such a simple verse and such a simple task. and one i very much need to take on. it's not that i haven't been praying frequently about my next step, it's just that i'm so overwhelmed with what's next that i'm completely lost on how to pray, what to pray for, what i want, and what God wants. let's get some perspective - i'm the girl who spends two hours in the goodwill because i can't decide which $4 blazer i want (which, incidentally, the longer you spend there, the more you find that you need), the one who has had near breakdowns in stores when making big purchases because i just can't decide exactly which is perfect (buying my beloved subaru practically required a valium prescription), the one who has no idea how to choose a paint color, the one who went to eight stores (yes, eight) yesterday because i couldn't decide which type of pinwheel i wanted for my flower boxes. (yes, i'm very aware of how ridiculous/sad/pathetic this is.) can you imagine if it were up to me to decide huge things like whether to move to dc, charlotte, or raleigh? whether i should to work on capitol hill, for a non-profit or in corporate america? i would be paralyzed with fear and would likely have a freak-out reminiscent of any one of charlie sheen's strange breakdowns. which is why i'm so glad Someone else knows what is best for me. Someone who, although silent lately won't be silent forever. and, thankfully, Someone who sees the whole picture and is happy to provide me a little wisdom toward my next step.
i may not be overly joyful when facing trials and uncertainty. in fact, as much as i don't like to admit it, i may be downright difficult and whiny. (my mom can probably confirm this.) but i can bet on the fact that as long as i'm seeking wisdom and guidance, the One who "gives generously to all without finding fault", won't hold out on me.
image via altodomeucastelo