Do you ever question God’s goodness? Do you lack wisdom? Do you have doubts?
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5-8, ESV)
We’ve got some battles going on here in this verse. That’s timely. Cause I’ve got some battles going on in my soul.
Faith vs. Doubt (Unbelief)
Receiving vs. Not Receiving
Wise vs. Unstable (Uncertain)
Let’s define a few things according to Barclay.
wisdom: “a God-given and God-centered discernment regarding the practical issues in life”
faith: ”“a settled trust and confidence in God, based on His character and promises as revealed in Scripture”
doubt: “vacillating between trusting God and trusting the world or one’s own natural abilities”
James 1:5-8 says that God generously gives wisdom to all without reproach. Therefore, if I lack wisdom, I ought to ask God and I’ll get it. But when I ask I am to have faith and not doubt. If I doubt I am unstable (wave tossed by the wind), double-minded (dipsuchos-someone with two souls, two minds, an internal CIVIL WAR), and I will not receive ANYTHING from the Lord.
If I doubt God’s goodness I dishonor Him. Essentially, I am unsure whether God is good or does good.
Friends, I’ve been struggling with doubt. That’s my confession. Without the lens of Scripture, I don’t know that I’d call it a struggle with doubt, but as I studied this verse, I realized that’s exactly what’s going on here. My doubt is related to this embryo transfer. As Jason and I approach the transfer in the next few months (more of a specific update on Tuesday), reality is sinking in. It’s been a long journey and we are FINALLY moving towards actually doing the transfer.
And, consequently, I am REALLY struggling with my emotions. And I wasn’t prepared for this. It hit me all of a sudden on Thursday after our doctor’s appointment. On one hand I am excited out of my mind that we might possibly be pregnant in the next few months and have children in the next year. Our desire to be parents is so strong, and the thought brings us great joy and excitement. On the other hand, we understand that this simply may not work. We know that there is a chance that the embryos might not survive the thaw. We know that they may not implant. We know that this may not work and a year from now we could be in the same position we are in right now. No children. So I’ve been struggling with what to do with my emotions. They are polar opposites. Sheer joy and sheer fear. How excited do I “let myself” get? How grounded do I “try to keep myself?”
So I took the struggle to feet of Jesus and opened up His Word.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
Kate, you lack wisdom to know how to handle your emotions. Ask God to give you wisdom (a God-given and God-centered discernment regarding the practical issues in life). He gives generously without reproach. He will give you the wisdom you need to know how to handle your emotions.
“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”
Ask in faith, Kate. Have a “settled trust and confidence in God, based on His character and promises as revealed in Scripture.” Remember the character and promise of God. Remember that He gives generously. Remember that He never calculates the gift. As Barclay says, “There is a kind of giver who gives only with a view of getting more than is given; such people give only to gratify their vanity and their sense of power by putting recipients under obligation which they will never be allowed to forget; they give and then continually calculate the value of the gift that they have given.” God is not this type of giver.
“For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
Doubt. “Vacillating between trusting God and trusting the world or one’s own natural abilities.” Trying to control or manage or harness my emotions “myself” is doubting God. It’s dishonoring God. It’s indicating that I am unsure whether God is good or whether or not He does good. The one who doubts is a like a cork in the waves—now near the shore, now far away. The asker is to ask without doubts. The asker is to be sure of the power of God to give. And the asker is to be sure of the DESIRE of God to give.
Kate, this is an issue of faith and trust.
Do I trust God or do I distrust Him?
I have two options:
Option A: Have faith, receive wisdom, know how to proceed.
Option B: Doubt, receive nothing, be uncertain and unstable as I try and figure it out myself.
So how do I live this out practically? How do I take this Scripture and walk it through the next few months as we move towards this embryo transfer?
Ready? Here it is. Know God. If I know Him, I know He is absolutely generous, and If I know Him, I believe Him.
“When we ask, we must remember the absolute generosity of God and see to it that we ask believing that we shall receive what God knows is good and right for us to have.” (Barclay)
Notice it does not say we will receive what we think is good and right for us to have. No, we will receive what God knows is good and right for us to have.
I have peace with that. So I will seek to KNOW GOD, so that I might ask in faith, remembering His character and nature as a giver. And I will trust that He will grant us the wisdom to walk through this next season of life. The end.