We’ve got a few different options when we’re suffering. We can complain about it, something most of us have done more than we should have. But it doesn’t really do any good, does it? We don’t particularly enjoy it, and the people around us certainly don’t.
We can blame God and fuss at him about it, but that probably suggests a lack of confidence on our part.
We can finger-point and talk about why our problems are someone else’s fault. That’s really easy to do, and the devil loves for us to do that because we’ll never get any better while blaming the people around us.
James has a different, simpler solution:
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray (James 5:13a).
You may not have this problem, but when I’m stressed or struggling, my devotional life sometimes suffers. My prayers tend to be more shallow, more perfunctory, less intense. I find myself going through the motions spiritually—praying, but only out of habit; engaging in the kind of “vain repetitions” that Jesus warned us against in Matthew 6. I’ve occasionally prayed an entire prayer and then realized I didn’t really think about any of it.
Do you do this?
Maybe that’s why James includes this simple encouragement: when you’re suffering, when you’re worried, when you’re stressed . . . pay attention to your devotional life.
Talk to the Lord about whatever it is. Don’t offer him clichés; really pour out your heart to him.
He’s never condoned our grumbling, and blaming him or the people around us is counterproductive.
Prayer, of course. Take your problems to the one who’s in control of your life and your problems and your concerns.
Suffering, worried, or stressed?
Pray about it. —Chuck