Pray for Wisdom in Times of Spiritual Confusion
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God.”
Suffering and trials bring spiritual, emotional, and mental confusion. When we are overwhelmed with adverse circumstances, it is hard for us to understand why we are going through times of difficulty, and it causes us to be spiritually confused. As we struggle to understand, we are perplexed with many questions. How can a loving God allow us to experience this struggle? Why does God not act? What am I to do amid this struggle? Suffering often brings confusion as answers seem fleeting.
As James is writing his letter, he recognizes that many Christians are facing complex and challenging trials. As the church grew in popularity, it also faced increasing persecution. The greater the opposition, the more the earache Christians were plagued by doubts and the temptation to abandon their faith. Consequently, James writes to encourage them to remain steadfast in their faith. However, James understands that it is one thing to tell people to rejoice in trials; it is another to know how to live and respond in the face of adversity. To do so, they need wisdom from God. This brings us back to the centrality of prayer, especially during difficult times. However, instead of just praying for freedom from adversity, James challenges us to pray for wisdom to respond amid adversity.
God does not abandon us but promises to give us the wisdom we need to deal with the challenges we face. James reassures us that when we ask for understanding, God gives us wisdom in abundance. God is not tightfisted in bestowing wisdom. This wisdom comes through the pages of his Word, the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and through the counsel of godly Christians.
Because of God’s invitation, we do not need to fear seeking wisdom from God. God does not criticize or reprimand us when we come before him, expressing our confusion and fears. When we lack understanding, God does not scold us for our failure. Instead, he invites us to come to him, and he promises us to provide the wisdom we need.
Spiritual confusion is not a lack of faith. Nevertheless, James does warn against doubting God, for doubt undermines faith. The doubt to which James refers is the doubt of God’s character and activity. While we may not understand the reason behind God’s actions, we have the assurance of God’s character that he will act on our behalf. However, if we begin to doubt God’s character, when we question God, we no longer have an “anchor for the soul” (Hebrews 6:19). Instead, we become driven by the winds. We no longer have any stability of faith. The doubt that he is referring to is an intensive doubt, which leads to wavering in our faith in God.
When we are going through trials, we need to rivet our focus upon God's character and being. He is always faithful to his Word, loving in his actions, and gracious in his care for us. Upon these truths, we find security and strength. When we trust in him, we can find wisdom, for in him, we find perspective. We may not always understand the “Why?” but we can always rest in God.