The Wisdom I Don’t Understand
When a person loses a loved one, they need the wisdom that no one understands. When they go through a divorce, they need the wisdom that no one understands. But sometimes they get so discouraged they just drop out.
It’s the same old story I’ve heard so many times – people left what they believed about God since they were a child because someone else convinced them it wasn’t true. But what do they have now? Probably nothing – nothing that really helps them in the dry and dusty desert of life.
Their new beliefs may help them with psychological issues, but I have seen a nagging emptiness inside them that is asking, “What happened to the power – the guidance – the well of wisdom that used to give me a peace and assurance that someone bigger than me was going to take care of me?” The power they need comes through prayer – “Believing that God exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). God answers prayer, and he is an “Ever present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
As gunshots are fired across college campuses, as fearful events confront us almost every day, philosophical sayings aren’t going to cut it. If your life is pretty easy – that’s different. But most people are really struggling. You might have some good ideas, you might have some helpful sayings, but where is the power that raised Christ from the dead?
Nothing is easy. God hasn’t given us a revelation that is a snap to understand. And for those who love to find contradictions, the Bible gives them a field day. For each new flaw they find, there is a great shout of victory. And so they “win” – but I’m not sure what the prize is.
If you are still clinging to your Bible, sometimes it is like standing in a hail storm. Maybe the best thing to do is go inside out of the storm and really look into things. People do that with quantum physics. They do it with medical research. They do it with treasure maps.
Can you imagine a person with a treasure map giving up their search the first time someone tells them “It’s all a lie?” They wouldn’t – why do believers give up so easily? Just because you haven’t found all the answers to contradictions doesn’t mean you should just throw everything away.
And if you think about it, would a person who had a treasure map expect the map to give them directions on how to fly an airplane, or how to build a bridge? Some people think that the Bible should give them all of that and more. I say they’re wrong.
The Bible isn’t a book of history. It has history in it, but it doesn’t describe history the way historians would want it to be. It’s not a book of science. It doesn’t describe all the details of geology or chemistry. The main purpose of the Bible is to explain one really long story – the story of Jesus Christ. And his message is very plain and simple. He gave his life for us. The Bible talks about heaven, but it certainly isn’t a guidebook to the streets and buildings in the afterlife. If you are expecting your Bible to give you things it doesn’t have, then you are in trouble.
There are lots of people who have thrown away their Bibles because of troublesome passages. But this is where we should struggle and try to understand, because our God doesn’t want us to give up.
Maybe he has given us burdensome questions to drive us to understand things that will help us get through the hard times. Had we never struggled to understand, we wouldn’t have found some of the clues we needed for our own life. But if we stop struggling, then we will probably wander away into a dry, empty desert. God doesn’t want us to wander; he wants us to find him.
There are plenty of troublesome passages in the Bible. For example, in one place, it says that Moses “Spoke to God face-to-face.” In other places, it says, “No one can see God and live.” This contradiction is a “paradox,” which means “beyond opinion” in the original Greek. It is a statement that is inexplicable yet true. But it can be turned into a great way to understand more about God.
One of the most important rules in Biblical interpretation is that scripture interprets scripture. This means that we use the whole counsel of God to explain difficult passages. So in this case, we should look all over the Bible for clues on how to understand this paradox.
In John chapter 1:18, it says, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has made him known.”
In John 1:1 it says, “In the beginning was the Word (Jesus) and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
This means that Jesus was with God and that Jesus is God at the same time.
So when Moses saw God face-to-face, he saw Jesus. He didn’t see the Father. This is an enigma – that Moses saw God but he didn’t see God.
In quantum physics we have seeming contradictions as well. They have shown that electrons can go from one atomic orbit to another and then back again in zero time. How can that be? It’s a paradox – an enigma.
The point is that life is filled with enigmas. We need the wisdom we don’t understand to have peace and assurance during problems and situations that are too big for us.
People need this wisdom given to them from a faithful God who lives on a higher plane than they do. They need power to stabilize their emotions, to calm their anger, to shield them from fear, to give them wisdom and a peace that flies above the ground below where bombs are going off. Praying to a God who really has power is different than simply living by a guidebook or some rules for life.
Sometimes you can’t do anything about your situation. That’s when you can pray, “God, please fight this battle for me. It’s too big. Please give me the strength I need to go forward, and to hang on to your wisdom that I don’t understand.”