God is not a problem solver. He is a wisdom giver.
James 1:2–5 (ESV) “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
When we encounter difficulties our first reaction is “God, take this away.” That’s just not very smart. James tells us to rejoice and pray for wisdom. James is a book of wisdom. Many call the book of James the New Testament’s version of Proverbs. He offers quick hitting wisdom to many of our issues in life as we follow Christ.
Here’s why we are to ask for wisdom. Relief makes life easier, but not better. Wisdom makes life richer and better. Ecclesiastes 7:12 says, “wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.” Then in Proverbs 9:12, “if you become wise, you will be the one to benefit. If you scorn wisdom, you will be the one to suffer.” In other words, refusing to grow in wisdom when trouble comes actually leads to more trouble.
Wisdom is not simply knowledge, for many stupid decisions are made by very educated people. Wisdom is the ability to look at the issue and decide appropriately for the best possible outcome. Later in the book, James describes wisdom as “pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” James 3:17. That is what God is willing to give “without reproach” to any who ask Him.
Everything God puts in your life is to shape you to be more like Jesus (see Romans 8:28-29). When we look at the example of Jesus, we see that Luke describes his growth this way: Luke 2:52 (ESV) “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” This is why later in life no one could trap Jesus in His words. When the Pharisees and Sadducees, the religious leaders and the teachers of the law laid traps for Him, they failed. Why? Because He grew in wisdom. If we are going to grow like Jesus, wisdom is not optional and trials are unavoidable.
Life is full of traps. Perhaps you are facing one right now. In Christ, no trial is intended to defeat you, it is meant to develop you. God doesn’t solve problems. Take joy and pray for wisdom.