7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
Submission goes against our nature. We want control of our lives and our destiny. Even when we seek the Lord, we often will tell Him how to do things rather than just trusting the Lord to handle things the best way. When we pray, we usually tell God how we expect the prayer to be answered instead of trusting that whatever way the Lord answers is the best way for us. Humility in prayer requires that while we may prefer a certain outcome – and it is ok to ask for a certain one – we will trust God that He will bring about the best outcome.
James does not imply that a humble person is one who is always mourning and gloomy. It is true that a humble person may grieve, mourn, and wail as they recognize their sin however. When we acknowledge that we are sinners, it’s not a time for rejoicing. But notice how the paragraph ends – “and He will lift you up.” We can rejoice in forgiveness but certainly not over our sin.
God will bring about rejoicing. We go to God in humility because we know that we aren’t worthy of His love. But we go away rejoicing because He does love us and He has forgiven our sins. Those who approach God in humility will leave with their heads lifted high. Those who approach God with pride will leave humbled by Him.