Life happens in seasons. There are those we enjoy and others we try to avoid. In James 5:13-20, we learn how to identify and manage them both.
No matter what season you’re in, you can maintain joy and peace. If you’re currently in a difficult season, hold on, it won’t last forever.
Season number 1, “Is anyone among you suffering.”
Suffering covers a wide range of experiences. James’ prescription to suffering is prayer.
You and I have an enemy who wants to silence our prayers because he understands the power we possess as followers of Jesus!
- Prayer takes the battle out of your hands and puts them in God’s hands.
- Prayer is how we cast our cares on God, for He cares for us.
Having a relationship with God doesn’t keep suffering from you, but prayer places the battle in God’s hands.
The second season of life is, “Is anyone cheerful.”
This is the season we all want to stay in, but it feels like it never lasts long enough. The word cheerful is to be of a good mind, or good attitude. It’s having favorable circumstances that produce a positive mood.
“Cheerful” is also known as “Friday,” or “A whole Pumpkin to myself without gaining an ounce” or “a Tropical Vacation.”
James’ prescription for this season is to sing praise. When things are going good, worship God. This may not extend the length of this season but will add depth to your joy that will feel as if time is slowing down so you can savor the moment even more.
The third season of life is, “Is anyone sick among you.”
James makes two relevant statements about prayer, “Who is supposed to call,” and “Who is to be called.”
He says the sick person is to call on the ELDERS for prayer.
Why would the sick person need to make the call? The act of calling is an expression of faith.
But why the Elders?
Elders are established men and women in the church. They are planted and rooted in the community. Elders served as an extension of the local Pastor. With every leadership change, the Elders are a constant factor in the local church.
So why do they have to be anointed with oil?
#1 Oil is a symbol of God’s presence.
Anointing oil, paired with prayer, is a symbolic act of tapping into the power of God. I am connecting my need with the dominant power of God.
#2 Anointing with oil is an act of consecration.
In doing so, you are set apart for God’s special attention in prayer.
James goes on to connect the power of healing with the confession of sin. This has been misunderstood for decades.
While it’s true that sickness is the result of original sin in the garden of Eden, to suggest that someone who has the flu committed is guilty of gossip, is just wrong teaching.
God does not inflict us with sickness as punishment. It’s appointed for man to die once and then face judgment, Hebrews 9:27.
James is advocating for unity.
If you have an issue with your brother who is coming to anoint and pray for you, that needs to be made right first. God is all about reconciliation.
Unity is the conduit for the power of God. If we are at odds with one another, we need to forgive.
“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:15
God has forgiven us of so much, so how can we withhold forgiveness from others who have said or done things towards us.
Unity doesn’t mean you and the other person see eye to eye on the matter but that you choose not to allow the issue to divide you.
As a believer, there is never a justification for division.
- Jesus washed Judas’ feet.
- Being offended is never an option.
- Forgiven people forgive.
James concludes his insight by highlighting the effectiveness of prayer.
- Effective prayers are not eloquent prayers or loud prayers or soft prayers.
- Effective prayers are not long prayers or short prayers.
These are human standards, not God’s.
Prayer is effective because the praying person is righteous.
“He (God) has covered me with the robe of righteousness.” Isaiah 61:10
When you accept Jesus’ gift of forgiveness, you are made righteous. Righteousness is both instantaneous and progressive.
- God declares you righteous. Instantaneous.
- We now live righteously. Progressive.
James uses Elijah as an illustration. Elijah had struggles and a sin nature just like us but accomplished great things. His prayers were effective not because he was perfect, but he was righteous.
Pray with confidence, not in your words or your successes or failures, but in knowing that God has made you righteous and that is what makes your prayers powerful!
How are you responding to suffering, cheerful, and seasons of sickness? God’s prescription is to aid you in not being swallowed with discouragement but to enhance His presence in every season of life.