We come to the end of James and find a string of advise. Is there a thread that ties it all together? His letter is about finding joy in trials as we persevere, keeping focused on God. Perhaps we could title it, “finding the silver lining in a cloud.” Our lives are like the mist of a cloud and how sad to spent it tossing to and fro like a wave because we do not turn to God for wisdom. God is the giver of good. He warns against favoritism, against gossip, against works without faith. Wisdom is peaceful and not contentious. Be patient, is certainly his advice. So chapter 5, verse 13 he returns to his original thought of facing trials. He asks, “Is any one of you in trouble?”
The verses that follow seem to me to focus on the value of community. God gives wisdom but we live in community. Joy is to be shared by singing praises, by prayer, by calling elders in times of trouble, and by confession. “The prayer of a righteous ma is powerful and effective.” God works in and through community. Even as faith without works is dead, trials without a supportive community are unbearable.
James gives the example of Elijah, on of the major prophets, who lived at a time of great political turmoil as the queen was a Baal worshiper and the king was an unstable leader. Elijah’s prayers are known for significant impact. Perhaps we can spend sometime remembering those whose lives were great examples of faith and who deeply impacted our lives. Community helps carry us through trials when often it is so hard to see clearly the hand of God working. Helping each other when we go astray “covers a multitude of sins.”
Trials test our faith and drive us to seek wisdom from God and comfort from community. We sort out our values as our wants are challenged. So many lines in James bring me comfort – God does not test us, all good gifts comes from God who does not change like shadows, God does not play favorites by wealth and rewards faith, wisdom is peace-loving, and prayer is powerful. Our lives are in God’s hands so let us focus on living today trusting him. Blessings.