What James writes here may be considered to be apposite for some parts of the twenty first century Western church. When I took a short series on the book of Lamentations about a year ago, the worship leaders found it very difficult to find suitable songs of lament. When we can read through the Biblical book of songs which is the Psalms and note that around thirty three percent are songs of lament it does make you wonder why there are not more songs written in a similar vein to 'You never let go', 'Blessed be your name' and 'It is well with my soul'. James calls us to be in a place of lament, recognising just how far humans are from God and how much He has had to do to draw us to Himself. Even when we become children of God, we are excited about what the world offers and easily distracted from following Him. James gives the reader some practical advice: Always remain humble before God, that is when we come to Him in prayer remember who He is and who you are! Resist the devil and then we have the guarantee as children of God that He will flee from us. As I said in an earlier blog, that means that we cannot blame the devil for our failures to resist temptation! It is not God who keeps Himself at a distance from us, but we who keep ourselves at a distance from Him. Why is that? There are probably many and various reasons, but the human condition is such that we fight for independence, although God never takes that away from us and we struggle to accept the abundance of love He wants to pour out upon us! The final encouragement is that God always extends grace to us. Whatever our struggles and however close it feels that we are to drowning, God reaches out and lifts us out of the mire once again. Remember that Jesus told Peter that he should forgive his brother seventy times seven: God's forgiveness is limitlessly more than that!
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