I don't know if you heard, but in the last 48 hours, a tornado ripped through a small town in Mississippi killing an estimated 10-17 people and injuring many more. The town was primarily Christian. Immediately one might think "Oh well why would a loving God do this to His own people?" Forget that for right now, I'll give you something to remedy that thought in a few. One of the survivors of the tornado was Coroner Ricky Shivers. According to his account, his car flipped four times as a result of the tornado. What is interesting is what he did while he was in the car. His words were the following: "If it is my time to go, I am ready Lord." WOW. Talk about humility. This man could have said a million other words. He could have cursed God, asked God why He would allow such a thing to happen to a man of faith. He said none of these things. His words were a true symbol of humility. Lord do with me as You will, should I die, I'll see You, should I live, I'll speak of You.
This parallels what Paul talks about in Phil 1:21-26. Paul is torn between the idea of death and life. He wants to die to go and be with the Lord, however, he wants to live to be able to speak of the Lord and bring others to Christ.
Now let's stop for a second and think. What would I have said in that car as it flipped uncontrollably? I'm sure most of us can't say we've been seated in a car as it is tossed about by a raging tornado, however, we all can say that at some point in our lives, we have felt as though we were sitting in the midst of a personal tornado. How did we respond? Did we do what James tells us and consider it joy? Or did we do what Job's wife said and curse God? How does one maintain such composure in the midst of such turmoil? The answer is simple: peace. Peace which leads to joy.
In the original language, the word happiness comes from the word "happenings" which implies that happiness is something that comes as a result of what is happening around us. Where as the word joy can also comes from the state "of being well". Happiness is dependent on circumstance, and circumstances are ever changing, however, joy is dependent on the ongoing state we live in. God never changes, He remains the same, and joy, if built on this foundation, should remain the same, regardless of circumstance. For me, joy is sometimes hard to come by. So easily we let the world and its weeds and rough seas trouble us to the point where we lose sight of our pure joy, and that is knowing that in all things, He works for our good, He uses all evil for good, and has created all things in order that His glory might be seen. The bible doesn't say we won't have issues, else James wouldn't have used the word "when" in verse 2. We aren't always going to happy, however, we can always have joy.
Now the kicker to this whole story is what the man did after he survived the car flips. He put on his medical clothing, and went to the hospital to aid those in need. WOW again. I bet though, that this guy, while in the car, was so humble, and so faithful, that He didn't need God to keep him safe. What I mean is, safe or not, he would remain faithful, He didn't need God to save him from this turmoil to know and love God. It didn't matter to him whether he died or lived, so long as God's will came to be. He, unlike people like me (man do I need to change) doesn't need a sign. An amazing work won't make or break his faith, it will only strengthen it. That is true humility, and it is this kind of humility that gets us God's grace. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble James 4:6. God won't use a person who is prideful to do His work, God doesn't share His glory (Isaiah 42:8).
I must humble myself. The question shouldn't always be, "What more can I do for God?" because we ourselves can do nothing, everything is from Him and for Him, our question should really be "How much less can I do for myself?" and in doing less for me, I make more room for Him. I am taking on a new life verse to go with Gal 1:10. Job 1:21 "And he said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD." I came with nothing, I'll leave with nothing, all I have has been given to me by Him. Let me never forget it, else I'm not humble...
By the way, a little gem to leave you with the next time you question why it is evil exists or how it is a just God allows such evil to take place... "The cross does not tell us what the answer to the question is 'Why does God allow evil and suffering to take place,' but it does tell us what the answer can't be, and that is that He doesn't care[...]Because He went into the ultimate furnace for you, there is your evidence that He is walking into your personal furnaces with you..." - Timothy Keller