“Count it all joy my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds.” James 1:2
I find myself either loving or hating James. He is both confronting and empathetic. For he is such an overt realist. He says: Life is a tale of various kinds of trials. The Greek word for various kinds used here is poy-kee’-los. And it is much more than what the English word captures. It means:
“multicoloured, complex, intricate, particoloured, varicoloured, multicolour, many-coloured, many-hued, polychromatic, colourful, prismatic, rainbow-like, kaleidoscopic, jazzy, motley.”
Matthew 4:24 uses it to describe those afflicted with ‘any and every kind’ of sicknesses. Apostle Paul uses it in 2Timothy 3:6 to describe false teachers led astray by ‘unlimited shapes’ of human desires. Apostle Peter uses it in 1Peter 4:10 to describe the ‘endless ways’ the grace of God is proved sufficient for our needs.
What a true picture of life! As Forrest Gump famously said:
“My mama said: Life is like a box of chocolate. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
All kinds and all forms of things come at me in life when I neither expect it or prepared for it. Like any uninvited guests, they just jumped at me and surprise me and often I find myself gobsmacked: “Hang on! What just happened? What is this? Life wasn’t like this just 24 hours ago!”
James begins his letter by saying to us: “…when you find yourself gobsmacked in life by trials – no matter what form they may take…” This really encourages me to keep listening to James. For I know I am listening to a realist. This man knows and faces life in all its complexity and depth, as I do. He is not ‘too heavenly for any earthly good’. I have been guilty of saying to others, “Don’t worry lah. What is there to worry? It is going to be ok.” But unlike me, James knows that there are good real reasons to worry, to be anxious. For in life, we meet various kinds of trials – even an unprecedented pandemic.
Today I learned again that I can bring anything to God. Anything that life is throwing at me at the moment – in all its shapes and sizes, in all its various kinds. My anxieties, my fear, my disappointment, my anger, my bitterness, my loss, my grief, my pain. Anything…