If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. James 1:5-8 (NIV)
We need wisdom to know how to cope with trials, for wisdom provides a clear view of our situation from God’s perspective. With wisdom we perceive that what the world calls misfortune, whatever its source, is an opportunity for God to bring about his purpose. Wisdom as the gift of God logically leads to our asking for it. Here again we see verbal links to Jesus: “Ask and it will be given to you” (Matt. 7:7; Luke 11:9); “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father” (John 14:13).
Wisdom is often seen personified as: “Lady Wisdom”, who seeks to reveal herself to humanity (e.g., Prov. 1:20–21).
James directs you and I to: Ask God for wisdom; ask in steady faith. The wisdom James has in mind must surely be the kind found in the Proverbs. It is sound judgment, proceeding from a reverence for God (Prov 1:7). To ask in faith is to embrace the way of righteousness and to be committed to it. Admission of need is not reprehensible, but equivocation is intolerable to the Lord. Doubt creates uncertainty and prevents clear thinking. James is graphic in portraying indecision as erratic waves that dictate the outcome—emptiness.
The wisdom that we need has three distinct characteristics: (1) It is practical. The wisdom from God relates to life even during the most trying times. It is not a wisdom isolated from suffering and trials. This wisdom is the tool by which trials are overcome. An intelligent person may have profound ideas, but a wise person puts profound ideas into action. Intelligence will allow someone to describe several reasons why the car breaks down. The wise person chooses the most likely reason and proceeds to take action.
(2) It is divine. God’s wisdom goes beyond common sense. Common sense does not lead us to choose joy in the middle of trials. This wisdom begins with respect for God, leads to living by God’s direction and results in the ability to tell right from wrong. It is a wisdom that James describes at length in chapter 3.
(3) It is Christlike. Asking for wisdom is ultimately asking to be like Christ. The Bible identifies Christ as the “wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24; 2:1-7)
Don’t be like the waves of the sea – tossed and blown by the wind.
If you have ever seen the constant rolling of huge waves at sea, you know how restless they are subject to the forces of wind, gravity, and tide. Doubt leaves a person as unsettled as the restless waves. If you want to stop being tossed about, rely on God to show you what is best for you. Ask him for wisdom, and trust then he will give it to you. Then your decisions will be sure and solid.
A mind that has but one single and prevailing regard to its spiritual and eternal interest, and that keeps steady in its purposes for God, will grow wise by afflictions, will continue fervent in its devotions, and will be superior to all trials and oppositions.