We are studying James 1:1-11 for Sunday, August 2; it’s the first of a series of five texts drawn from the book of James we’ll be studying, that will round out our summer focus on Biblical wisdom literature. [Some notes on the text are here.] Here are some questions on the text we might want to consider in class:
What does it mean to us to “consider it nothing but joy” when we fall into trials? Can we think of an example or two?
[More personal] Do we, ourselves, ever have trials? Do we want to talk about that?
[A lot more personal] If we had a smiley-frowny face scale, like the kind doctor’s offices have for pain, for “considering it nothing but joy” in our trials, where would we put ourselves most of the time? Why is that, do we think? How do we feel about that? Any ideas about what it might take for us to “do better” on that score?
Why do we think the author singles out “wisdom” as something readers might feel they lack? Or, as the thing readers need to ask for?
[A lot more personal, but also more theoretical] How might that be related to the problem of trials and considering them joy? [If “problem” is the right word.] How might wisdom help people (or, us) accomplish that, do we think? Can we think of anything that would work even better than wisdom for that? If so, what?
Are there different kinds of doubts, or different kinds of occasions for doubting? (For instance, we might not be sure we heard “those exact words”; or, we might wonder whether we should trust someone; or, …) What kind or kinds of doubt does the author seem to mean in v6? Why do we say that?
Are some kinds of doubt more likely to surface when people (or, we) are going through “trials,” do we think? Which ones?
[Maybe more abstract] Does doubt itself ever feel like a “trial”? When, or under what circumstances?
In our experience, are some kinds of doubt, or any kinds, compatible with faith? Any that lead to faith? Which ones? How does that seem to work?
Are there particular trials that come with being “raised up,” do we think? With being “brought low”? That are common to both circumstances?
Why do we think the author emphasizes the impermanence of “the rich”? Any lessons for us in that? What are they?