According to one national pizza chain, if something unexpected happens to your pizza on the way home, they will replace it. They refer to it as “pizza insurance.” But just because they will replace it when something unexpected happens, they can’t keep something unexpected from happening.
According to a series of TV commercials for one insurance company, the reason we have insurance is to protect us “from mayhem like me.” But even though it may help offset the impact of “mayhem like me,” having insurance doesn’t actually protect us from unexpected things happening.
The central figures and leaders of the early church were no strangers to challenging circumstances – in fact, they expected them. Their expecting unexpected circumstances did not result in a “gloom and doom” approach to life; instead it resulted in a hopeful approach to life in right relationship with God.
One of the early church leaders who adopted this approach was James. Part 5 Expect the Unexpected) of CCC’s Stuck? series explored part of a letter James wrote to the church in Jerusalem about how to respond when facing “feeling stuck” circumstances.
Take a few minutes to read James 1:1-8 and the next step of considering the following questions about expecting the unexpected.
- Have you ever had an insurance claim the company didn’t want to pay for? How did you feel?
- How does insurance protect us from some of the effects of circumstances but not the circumstances themselves?
- What types of things do you tend to consider when you feel stuck?
- Why do you think it’s so difficult to consider joy when you feel stuck?
- Do you agree that it’s not an “if” but “when” we will experience challenging circumstances? Why or why not?
- How does our perspective change when we expect to encounter adversity?
- In what ways to challenging circumstances put what we believe to the test?
- How would you describe perseverance?
- How can challenging circumstances produce perseverance?
- How would you describe someone whose character is “complete”?
- How would you describe/define wisdom?
- Do you believe God gives wisdom? Why or why not?
- What next steps will you take to see God at work right in front of you?
When we face “feeling stuck” circumstances, our tendency is to ask God to remove or put an end to the circumstances (rarely do we ask for wisdom). Because this is our primary focus, we usually don’t consider or care about the character development that is taking or can take place through such circumstances. Yet according to James, testing produces perseverance.
According to James, when we feel stuck and it seems there’s nothing we can do, we should ask God for wisdom and believe he gives it generously. This is a radically different approach than just asking God to change the circumstances.
Today is Monday – make it a day you consider it a joy when you face trials of many kinds and ask God for wisdom to do what you can do when it seems there’s nothing you can do!