Friday, January 15, 2021

How to Face Hard Transitions With Faith


Here in the United States, our country is going through a huge transition of power. The transition is harder than any of us imagined it would be. It's caused me to think about what the Bible tells us about how to face hard transitions with faith.

James, the brother of Jesus, is known for his bold approach to telling the truth. I think we can learn much from his words, written around 2,000 years ago, here in our day. I want to lead you through a guided meditation of James 4:1-12 NIV today, so we can all learn how to face the hard transitions in our life with faith, instead of strife.

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? vs. 1

James tells us that our sinful nature continually causes problems for us. It can really cause problems when we face transitions. Ask yourself and God: Am I acting out of selfishness during this transition, or am I acting with selflessness?

You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. vs. 2

We can be at our very worst during life's hard transitions. But with God's help, we can choose a better way. We can have the peace that passes all understanding when we ask God for help.

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. vs. 3

God warns us here not to ask for things out of our selfishness. We need to seek his will, read his word, and gain godly counsel in our times of transition, so we'll have our hearts in the right place when we ask.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. vs. 4

In your time of transition, are you aligning yourself more closely with worldliness than godliness? If so, you distance yourself from God. Ask God to come near to you as a friend instead.

Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? vs. 5

There's an invitation here - a love letter. God wants us to be his friends because he loves us, and has placed his Spirit in us as his followers. This is a reason to pause and praise God right now.

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” vs. 6

God gives us grace, a priceless gift we can never repay. Yet we can show our gratitude for this gift by choosing to be humble, teachable and open in our times of transition, rather than proud in our own opinions.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. vs. 7

We are each in a spiritual battle every day. The devil sees our times of transition as key opportunities to bring us down. Will you choose to submit to God instead, resisting the devil with the spiritual armor listed in Ephesians 6?

Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. vs. 8

This is one of the most hopeful promises in the Bible. As we draw near to God in worship, prayer, praise, Bible study and Christian meditation, he will draw near to us in love. We must also meet him daily in confession and repentance, asking him to clean us through Jesus' sacrifice to set us back on the path of righteousness.

Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. vs. 9

In context, this verse tells us it's good to see our sinful natures in a sober light. We need to be honest and contrite, opening our hearts to the Holy Spirit's searching. He will show us where we need to change, and lead us into a better way.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. vs. 10

See the hopeful promise in this verse? When we do the hard work of humbling ourselves, even in the hardest transitions of life, God will lift us up. He will carry us, give us victory in the spiritual realm, and help us see our situation from a heavenly perspective instead of an earthly one.

Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. vs. 11

Unfortunately, slander is running rampant in our culture right now, especially online. Make sure you are not slandering others in your words, whether online or in-person. Remember the old saying: If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. 

There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor? vs. 12

Also, remember that God is the only perfect Judge of what is going on in our culture and in your hard transition, and he will perfectly sort it out in the end. Refrain from judging others and commit to trusting God instead.

I pray that this guided meditation of James 4:1-12 challenges and strengthens you in your faith today. May God give you guidance, wisdom and peace in the transitions you face. Don't forget to pray that the Prince of Peace will reign over your transition and in the transitions we are facing in our culture.

Want more peace through Christian meditation? Check out my book, Transforming Your Thought Life: Christian Meditation in Focus, HERE!

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Have a blessed weekend!

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