Speaking with a goldfish: Important notes I’ve discovered in the Book of James

Amidst my tight schedule, my preoccupations and numerous unreasonable excuses not to open my bible, finally I managed to get through the book of James. And it took me fifteen days to actually get its message! I call that goldfish memory days – my short lived memory cannot contain the jewels of life the book is giving me, perhaps due to physical exhaustion. But praise God, His words are powerful enough to overpower my seemingly over fatigued mind and body just to tell me How awesome His love is for me. During those fifteen days, God is like a man teaching his goldfish instructions to live life. And because nothing is impossible to God, He actually got His message across!

I have just finished my second week in school. At this early point, I’m already contemplating whether the subjects I’m currently taking are wise choices. Actually, I don’t know. Being a working student, my only goal is to get as many subjects as I could so as to accelerate my years studying. And after my first two weeks of gruelling schedule, I find myself overwhelmed with tons of responsibilities. To be honest, I have no complaints. I love challenges. I’m used to deadlines and pressures. My creative juices manifest when I’m in an adrenaline rush. But I was caught off guard this time. I’m thinking whether I’ve bitten more than what I can chew. And there is no turning back for me now. I have decided to face the challenge no matter what, backed up with confidence that God stands by me in this battle.

Consider it pure joy?

The earlier part of the fifteen-day journey through the book of James tells me to consider it pure joy when I’m in trial. Perseverance is the key. When one is in trial, he learns to persevere. Perseverance produces maturity and completeness. Well, at first it’s easy to comprehend. These are all common and familiar verses in the Bible. Actually, the whole book of James is. But its familiar message turns surreal when I began to meet my terror professor, tons of assigned readings and lack of sleep. Consider it pure joy? How can I be joyful when my eyes want to sleep but I still have to pass a research paper? Where can I find joy in the midst of tense classmates because our professor might “send us to hell” any moment? But still, God speaks through James to consider it pure joy. Okay then, I’ll try…

Humility is Wisdom

In a classroom there exists competition for good grades and reputation. It is every wise student’s desire to excel in class. I believe I am one of those “wise” students. I want not just to survive the semester and get the most of my tuition fees, but to earn good grades and learn. But I was reminded that wisdom is evidenced by good life and deeds done in humility. For people whose sole desire is to be at the top, they don’t mind being caught up in the midst of an unhealthy competition, fighting for their rights and boasting about what they have and what they can do. Envy and selfish ambition gets prevalent. But with Christians, it is (should be) different. We must not get wired up in the competition but must be above it. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and every evil practice. So a Christian’s “show-off” of wisdom is though genuine humility and good deeds, and the wisdom that comes from heaven is pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. A real challenge because we tend to react to competition by trying to overpower others with what we have. But God says, be humble. And that is true wisdom.

Patience in Suffering

My terror professor asked the working students in the class, “You already have your job, why do you still want to pursue your studies?” I have an answer in mind, unfortunately I wasn’t called. I reflected upon that question as I go home, and I realized that even after I finish my second course, I’m still not sure what will happen. I have my visions in life. I already have my goals set. But as to when will I reach my goals, everything seems blurred. But God says be patient. As a farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, for the autumn and spring rains, so I have to be patient. Moreover, the Lord is coming soon. To wait upon the Lord seems to be taxing but the rewards overweighs the pain; the result is greater than the suffering. He will avenge us from our oppressors. Above all, He will put in our heads the crown of life He has promised to those who love Him, to those who stood the test, to those who persevered under all these trials.

These are just some of the imperative reminders I’ve discovered in the precious book (I discovered a lot!). The best thing, this is just one of the life-transforming books available in the bible. And its message is applicable not for the semester alone, but throughout my faith journey.

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