Peter and Mary Frey are both graduates from Moody Bible Institute whose video blog, The Frey Life, chronicles the ordinary events of their lives, whether checking into the hospital or running errands with their service dog. Mary, who has endured a lifelong struggle with cystic fibrosis, daily chooses joy. No matter what health issue confronts them that day, both Peter and Mary exhibit faith that shines. Their vlog has been an encouragement to thousands of viewers facing similar trials.
Our study this month is celebrating “every good and perfect gift” (v. 17) we have from God. It may surprise you to find we begin by discussing suffering. James is writing to “the twelve tribes scattered among the nations” (v. 1). Scholars believe God’s people had been scattered due to persecution and were being targeted for their beliefs. James clearly knows and understands their difficult circumstances, but he begins his letter by urging his brothers and sisters to choose joy.
This advice may seem surprising and even offensive to someone enduring hardship. How can we react to difficult circumstances with an attitude of joy? The answer lies in our identity as children of God. Trials test our faith in God and produce perseverance and maturity (v. 4). Tests of God are different from temptations. James explains that God never tempts or tries to lure us into sinful behavior. He may provide tests or challenges, but He does not entice us to sin.
We serve a good and faithful God, the giver of life and the provider of all good things. Unlike the variable circumstances of our lives, our God never changes (v. 17)! And when we walk through the most difficult circumstances of our lives, we can put absolute trust in His faithful provision.
What better way to begin this study than by starting a “thankful list”? As we consider God’s gifts to us, let’s list the things God has given to us personally. Take a moment each day to write one or two things for which you are thankful, down to the tiniest detail. Keep a running list throughout this month and cultivate a heart of gratitude.