James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.
My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.
But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same way with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away.
Today’s first reading from James is comforting on several levels. All of us struggle. All of us experiences trials of one kind or another. Human beings are flawed, and we are emotionally fragile. It may seem odd that the writer names life’s difficulties as opportunities to find solace, but precisely in these moments of difficulty and despair God is most available to us.
We tend to wish away our trials, which is normal. Yet if we can somehow pause and open our hearts and our minds to the movement of the Spirit during those trials, we would surely encounter God in a meaningful way. Christ comes to us in ways we may not expect. Consider Jesus’ own trials; in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus experienced severe anxiety and anguish. It was only through calling upon the Father that he received confirmation about this path, and then the strength to undertake it.
—Matt Kemper is the Director of Community Service at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati.
Lord, you are present to us in the good times and the difficult times. In the midst of our trials, help us turn to you, and open our hearts to be filled with your Spirit. May we always turn to you first in times of distress. Amen.
—The Jesuit Prayer team
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