A Revolutionary Concept of Problems

J. B. Phillips’ translation of James 1:2-8 is a refreshing rendering. It makes clear a Christian can even welcome trouble. Read the following version and meditate on it.

“When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence. 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 foolish or guilty—and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him. But he must ask in sincere faith without secret doubts as to whether he really wants God’s help or not. The man who trusts God, but with inward reservations, is like a wave of the sea, carried forward by the wind one moment and driven back the next. That sort of man cannot hope to receive anything from God, and the life of a man of divided loyalty will reveal instability at every turn.” James 1: 2-8 Phillips’ Translation in Modern English

Challenge yourself to take whatever time is necessary to memorize it. Be patient, but persistent in doing so. 

There are two themes in the text. The first deals with how to consider problems, and the second with prayer. Both are critical in developing a contented and productive life as a believer. There are two operative words. The first related to problems is “endurance,” and the second dealing with prayer is “ask,” dealing with prayer.

Endurance in dealing with problems is everlasting. One never gets over having problems and it is essential to deal with them properly, meaning endure the effort of considering them properly.

Observe the two distinct words: trials and temptations. Trials are designed to make us strong. Temptations are allurements intended to entice us to do evil. Both, rightly responded to can make us stronger in our faith and more loyal in our conduct.

In Jesus’ model prayer is included “lead us not into temptation” and “deliver us from evil.” The first relates to what we might do, and the second to what may be done to us.

As used “ask,” meaning to keep on asking, is a progressive process also. It means to continue in prayer about an issue until the Lord convinces you otherwise. Don’t grow weary, abide.

Now go back and read the Scripture again. After doing so, read it in your favorite translation. Let it soak in until it becomes instinctive.