Does the end of each month bring about financial pressure? Are there bills to be paid? Are there bills coming that will need to be paid? Are there strained relationships with family and/or friends that add to your pressure points of life? Is there physical illness in your life or someone close to you that adds to your pressures? Is there emotional fear of some type? Has your child walked away from the LORD?
Well, if we are honest, we all have at least one if not many or all of these pressure points! And the church of Jesus Christ in the first century was in the same situation as well – they attempted to live out their faith in the midst of spiritual, physical, relational, and financial pressures. There was persecution, trouble, conflict and trials that led some to be unstable and double-minded (James 1:1-8, English Standard Version Study Bible) which led to anxiety, fear, despair, and depression.
Yet, there was hope and a solution – and the same are available for believers living in the pressure cooker of our 21st century world. The book of James gives incredibly practical wisdom from the heart and mind of the LORD and not the wisdom of the world. This New Testament letter teaches us how to endure and actually thrive and not just survive trouble, affliction, and pressure.
The following excerpt from Lifeway’s “Pressure Points” in their new series, Bible Studies for Life, stresses these realities as well:
“I got a call from a friend whose wife was told she has cancer. I have a friend who has been married less than a year and his wife just announced to him that she’s leaving. I talked to a young dad who is devastated that he is losing his job. Meanwhile, his wife is expecting a child in a couple of months. The Bible is full of people who were dealt hard with incredible pressure, but through faith in God and through perseverance, they went from victims to victors. In James 1 we have a game plan for overcoming trials and finding joy, even amidst those terribly unfair trials.”
So, take heart and have courage. In the midst of whatever pressure you are facing today, you too can go from victim to victor and thrive and not just survive.
John Blanchard’s Truth for Life: A Commentary on the Epistle of James echoes the same encouragement as “no part of the Bible is more dynamically relevant to today’s ethical culture and spiritual climate than the letter of James. It tackles twenty-first century issues head on, ruthlessly exposing our pressures and problems and showing how they can be overcome by the indwelling grace of God.”