“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)
A sunny day is a lovely thing to enjoy. Here in the UK we have enjoyed quite a number of sunny days recently (not a very common occurrence!) and had the opportunity to sit outside and enjoy some of the longer summer evenings.
One of things you need to contend with on these sunny days, however, are shadows. As the day draws on you find the shadows moving across the garden or park and changing the environment where you are sitting. Each of us respond to moving shadows in different ways. Perhaps you are the kind of person who keeps moving their position to ensure you are always in the sun. You move across the grass following the sunshine and making sure you enjoy the warmth and brightness.
Alternatively, you might be like me – the kind of person who burns very easily in warm and sunny weather. I end up chasing the shade around the garden, adjusting my seating to keep out of the sun and avoid sunburn. Sometimes I am more successful at this than others!
Whatever kind of person you are, we all know the experience of shifting shadows. The sun does not stay stationary in the sky and shadows do not stay in the same place. They move continually and we have to move in response them. Shadows shift and change, it’s what they do.
In the midst of a global pandemic we probably feel as if quite a lot else is shifting and changing at the moment. I suspect that is a feeling we had before the pandemic too: we live in a world that changes continuously. There are always new things to understand, new challenges to tackle, new obstacles to overcome, new joys to experience. Like shadows, our world shifts and changes, that is what it does.
For this reason, it is good for us to hold on to James’ words from James 1 verse 17. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Our world may shift and change, but God does not. He is continually stable and unchanging. We can depend and rely on him. When the world seems to change in unprecedented and unpredictable ways, as it has done over recent months, we can know a God who does not change and who is constant.
In particular, James highlights on unchanging characteristic of God: that he is good. Every good and perfect gift comes from him. If we have something that is good and right and joyful and hopeful, that comes from God. This does not change as the world and everything in it changes. God is good and will continue to be good. He gives good gifts today and will delight in giving good gifts tomorrow. We do not need to worry that his mood will change or his desires shift. When we are so easily changed in our mood and emotions, especially in the midst of crisis, this is so wonderful for us to hold on to.