After so many years of reading the book of James in the Bible, you’d think I’d have it memorized by now. I don’t have every word memorized but, I am familiar enough with the letter that James, the brother of Jesus, wrote that I often turn there for correction and guidance and comfort.
Do you know what often causes me to turn to James? Difficult people. Do you know a few of those? I sure do. I first became best of friends with Brother James about ten years ago. My son who is about to turn twelve was a toddler and still our foster child at that time. Difficult times were upon us. I had developed a difficult relationship with his birth mom. It was complicated and it was difficult.
I wanted to reach out to her and help her. I did. I sometimes kept her other children. I sometimes ran errands for her. I tried to help her because I loved my son, her son, our son. I tried to help her because I loved Jesus.
On days when I felt that my best efforts were frustrated and realized there were no easy answers, I would turn to James. On days when I felt foolish for so diligently helping the one person who might take my son from me, I turned to James. On days when I felt trapped or resentful or weary, you know it, I turned to James.
James became my mantra, my plumb line, my consistent go to when I needed reminding that my first allegiance was to my Lord and doing His bidding. It helped me to set aside my personal feelings of feeling a bit taken advantage of at times. It helped me trust the Lord with the eventual outcome when I worried about losing my son who had come home straight from the hospital into my arms. It helped me to see beyond the often irrational, unreasonable actions of a young woman who seemed to be her own worst enemy. In short, it helped me be what I claimed to be, a Christian.
As a matter of fact, the book of James became so important to me during that time, when the day finally came for our adoption of our precious son, we gave him James as his middle name. I never wanted to forget the struggle and subsequent relief that those difficult days provided.
Today, I found myself turning once again to James. I am once again facing a difficult situation. But, truthfully, that’s pretty much how things are in this life. Whether it’s a difficult co-worker, a difficult fellow Christian, a difficult family member or even a difficult stranger, people are often difficult.
So, the real question is, not whether they are being difficult but how will I respond? Will I hold my tongue? Will I extend mercy and grace? Will I maintain my Christian testimony? Will I remember whose I am and the mission before me?
What if I truly try and my best efforts are treated scornfully? What if I am worried and concerned about the eventual outcome? What if it seems to make no difference at all.
Well, then, my friends I will remember the many times before when there have been difficult days. I will remember that God was enough then and He is still enough now. I will do my best and I will trust God with the rest. And so should you.
“Do any of you think you are religious? If you do not control your tongue, your religion is worthless and you deceive yourself. What God the Father considers to be pure and genuine religion is this: to take care of orphans and widows in their suffering and to keep oneself from being corrupted by the world.”
James 1:26-27 GNT