Meetings cancelled. Weddings postponed. Disappointments continue. We all have and will continue to experience the effects of COVID-19 in both some similar and significant ways. Don’t hug your family members. Don’t shake your neighbor’s hand. And certainly don’t share a meal with friends. Yes, much of what we are experiencing feels so very foreign, so very unexpected, and so very uncertain.
And yet, as Christians we must cling to what is beautiful, good, and true. We must remember what we know, what we can trust, what is certain. God himself. God has made himself known to us, He is not surprised by any of this, and He remains so very certain and stable in the midst of our circumstances.
The end of James 4 reminds us of our faith that perseveres. A faith that brings both peace and bolsters our perseverance. As we consider the end of James, be reminded of what James has previously said in this chapter. James 4:7-10 called us to be a people of humility, who walk in repentance, as we turn from our sin and turn to God. And now James continues this theme of humility as he closes the chapter.
James 4:13 makes a claim that many of us might make. Just be honest, it’s okay. We (myself included) probably all do this. “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’” (James 4:13). We make our to-do lists, schedule our meetings, plan our weeks. And then COVID-19 hits. And everything changes. Isn’t verse 14 just a balm for our current days? Check it out. James is right. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Our lives are a mist, and yet our God remains sovereign over both life and death.
So how do we respond to these realities? How do we recognize when we’re walking in entitlement and arrogance as described in James 4:13? How do we react to the uncertainties of our days? James 4:15 provides an example of the humility needed to persevere well. James says, “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that’” (James 4:15). Now James isn’t of course saying that before we do anything – unload the dishwasher, send an email, or attend a Zoom work meeting – we must say, “If the Lord wills, I will do this.” But rather, James encourages us to have this mindset. A mindset that both recognizes the sovereignty of God and responds in humility before God. It is this posture of submission that says, “God rules and reigns over everything. And I’m in desperate need of his sustaining grace for every single area of my life.”
But when we don’t respond in this posture of humility, James boldly calls out our arrogance. James doesn’t beat around the bush when he says, “As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil” (James 4:16). Now, if we’re honest, we can all at some point find ourselves in this camp. We think we know what’s best. And yet, we must remember that our good and perfect God knows what’s best. Why? Because, he is ultimately what’s best. He’s writing a better story. He’s the author of our story. And yes, COVID-19 is now a part of all our stories.
May our God who works miracles and keeps his promises continue to write a better story. May we respond today with a posture of James 4:15, entrusting all of our lives to what God wants rather than what we want. For every Zoom call and temporary business closing, our God remains on the throne. Let’s entrust ourselves and our days to the Lord. He hasn’t left us. He is with us and for us. And we get to look to him, our hope and our help, in this time of trouble.