The Everyday Girl Guide to: James and My Life (James 1:9-11)

June 21, 2013

Sometimes I wonder if parts of the Bible don’t speak to me because I’m just not in the right season.  Other times, I think it’s just that I go into it with the wrong expectations… or both.  Take, for example, today’s section in James 1:9-11:

Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.

This seems pretty straightforward and like it isn’t going to have a lot to say to me.  I mean, yes, I do tend toward the “humble circumstances” side of the scale… and apparently I’m supposed to be proud of that instead of occasionally indulging in the purchase of a lottery ticket with lofty dreams of becoming one of the “rich”.  But is there really more here?

When I was a kid, my parents were often so generous with their finances (or circumstances just happened) that we ended up down on the “humble circumstances” end of life.  My mom always asserted, though, that this was the time would God had the opportunity to bless us most.  At the end of our resources and the bottom of the food chain, people would come out of the woodwork to help our family.  Sometimes, we didn’t ever find out who they were.

As a grown adult (ha!), I tend to forget this fact.  For a long time, actually, I was very proud of my ability to budget so well that not only had I never been in any serious debt, but I had money in the bank in spite of [being a student: being a stay-at-home mom: just having bought a new house].  When emergencies arose, I was able to take care of them myself… and I was pretty proud of that.

Ah, what a fool I was.

When my divorce started, I had largely been a stay-at-home mom for nine years.  I didn’t really have a job history to offer to employers– and most of them had plenty of candidates to choose from.  I suddenly went from “able to take care of myself” to “looking into living at a women’s shelter”.  I was forced to rely on the generosity of my family and friends.  I briefly went on food stamps.  I slept in my car for a while… then had to voluntarily have my car repossessed because I couldn’t keep up on the payments.  I’m still not on firm financial footing– I dread calls from unknown numbers– but I am at least finally making steps forward.

Yet, in all this, it was the time when I was at my lowest, financially, that people most blessed me.  Whether it was free bread at church (thank you, Panera, for your generosity) or unexpected gifts at Christmas, I was blessed and reminded of God’s goodness.  If someone helped me fix a flat because I no longer had AAA on speed-dial, I was blessed and reminded that God’s human angels can come in unexpected places.  When I finally got a good, steady job, I was truly grateful… and still am. 

If I had been able to take care of all these things myself, I would have missed out on seeing God’s hand at work in my life… and I would have prevented someone else from being blessed by being able to help me.

So, maybe even those verses I don’t think can speak to me still can… if I’m willing to listen and be blessed.

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