James 5:13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.
When, in life, have you felt closest to God? When have you pursued him the most desperately? I have had a few routine times that I can recall (summer camp, church events) when I felt close to God, but hands down, the closest I have ever been to God was in times of misery. It has taken my self-inflicted destruction to drive me to my knees in prayer and seeking. When things are going well I am just not that aware of my need for God and so, my hunger for him evaporates. It is frustrating to look back and see that it took such pain for God to get my attention.
So, I now meet weekly with The Losers. This affectionate term does not apply to how we actually identify ourselves, but rather, it is a recognition of what drove us to our knees before God. We have all caused some significant destruction in our lives, all in different ways, and in that destruction, we found God. We have all realized that God had to use pain to get our attention. So, now, we meet together, to remind ourselves to follow God even in times of success. We meet to pursue God even in the good times, so that we do not return to the pursuit and destruction of self.
James says when we suffer, we are to turn to God. Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. This is natural for most of us who claim faith in God. James goes on to say however, that we are to keep our focus on God even when things are going well. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Unfortunately, most of us forget about our need during times of success.
At all times in life, we are to keep the orientation of our mind directed towards God. This is faith, to keep the gaze of our soul constantly focused on God. It is a maddening frustration for many of us that it has taken misery and pain to drive us to faith. So now, along with my fellow Losers, I make a daily effort to turn the gaze of my eyes from self and towards God. I want to pursue God as desperately in the good times as I do in the bad times.
I would be lying if I said there was not some self-interest here. I do not want to go back to the misery. I do not want to go through God’s discipline again. I do not think that life will be made easy if I follow God, but it will always be much less miserable if I stop causing my own destruction. When I sow the seeds of my flesh, life is painful. When I sow the seeds of the spirit, real life grows. So, with my fellow Losers, I will pursue God in both good times and bad.