Reflection James 4:15
When well-meaning friends have recently asked us the friendly question, “Where will you be in the next several months?” my response has been, “I don’t know.” One spiritual-sounding American put the question like this — “What’s your sense from the Lord?” I smilingly responded over the phone, “James 4.” I then mentioned several factors involved in making decisions (when will airports reopen? How far into Amy’s pregnancy will we be when things re-open?, etc.). These factors are outside my control. The Coronavirus crisis is forcing me to say, “I don’t know.” That’s a good thing. It’s actually a much more Christian attitude than the worldly alternative – the arrogant attitude of the man who assumes that nothing can stop his well-crafted plans.
Dear friends, the Coronavirus crisis presents us with an opportunity to grow in Christ – for our faith to strengthen and for us to become less worldly. “Real spiritual growth”, as the Evangelical Anglican theologian, J.I. Packers puts it, “is always growth downward, so to speak, into profounder humility” (emphasis added). One of the ways the Lord is humbling us during this Coronavirus trial is by giving us a humbler attitude about the future.
In James 4:13, the arrogant, worldly man says in his heart, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade a make a profit.” Oh really? Is that so? The truth is that “you do not know what tomorrow will bring” (James 4:14a) as the Coronavirus has reminded us. Rather than proudly resisting this (now painfully obvious) truth, the wise, growing Christian will embrace it.
Of course, the God of the Bible is not against us making plans. We should make plans. But God opposes the proud attitude that assumes the future is in my little hands. I find this arrogant attitude especially prevalent amongst fellow Americans. (Whenever I read James 4:13 I can’t help but think of the typical American businessman). I admire you South Africans who are much more realistic about the uncertainties of life. That said, no one is immune from this pride.
So will you take this opportunity to grow downward? To humble yourself before the Lord and confess that, when it comes to the future, “I don’t know” but I know Him who holds it in His hands.