In James, the first chapter is all about enduring the world around us. Our nature is to thank God for the good things and blame the devil for the bad. The truth is, however, that we conveniently overlook the role that we play in our own situation.
We often need reminding that this world is under the influence of sin. God gave us a paradise and we broke it. You and I live in a broken world and we deal with the consequences of our sinfulness every single day.
In a broken world, things don’t work right. Sin infects our relationships, our jobs, the economy, the weather, our moods, our cultures, our politics, our worship, our speech, our health … literally everything. Sin is in everything around us, so the world tests and tempts us. Trials and tribulations are a way of life. God warned us about that:
“…sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
So, there is the first part of the problem. Much of our suffering is just the price we pay for breaking our world. In Genesis 3, God told Adam and Eve that their sin would bring them enmity and pain, toil and sweat. Look around you. This is what those things look like in a broken, physical, material world.
Broken worlds behave in broken ways. They harbor cancer and disease. The weather changes. Cars break down. People get hurt. Rains that water crops and quench our thirst can turn into deadly floods and thunderstorms. Airplanes that can carry us across great distances can fall out of the sky. Fire that warms and comforts us can burn down homes and entire villages. Human emotions that display love and joy can erupt into violence, betrayal and war.
The hard truth is that our suffering is the direct consequence of choosing sin over obedience to God. Tomorrow we will begin a look at how that suffering can strengthen you or destroy you.