Out of all the things King Solomon could have asked God for—riches, fame, power, success—he asked for wisdom. And it’s no wonder; we are desperate for it! On any given day we encounter problems for which we have no ready answer, no step-by-step instructions, and no Biblical proof text that precisely addresses our need. In all of life, and especially in moments of uncertainty, confusion and suffering, we need more than knowledge. We need wisdom— Biblical knowledge that is fittingly applied to the situation at hand.
It’s true, there are many areas of life for which Scripture provides clear answers. Adultery, for instance, is always wrong— as is cheating on your taxes or stealing that lipstick you just have to have. But in my experience, this is not where the struggle lies. The struggle to live faithfully is expressed in questions like:
- How can I tell if my husband is truly repentant and not just sorry about getting caught?
- Should I help my adult daughter again with her bills? I want to be merciful but am I enabling her?
- I feel anxious all the time. I know the Word says I shouldn’t be. Why can’t I control this? Am I not a true believer?
- We just received an invitation to our dear nephew’s wedding— he is marrying his partner, John. Should we go to the wedding?
- My parents can no longer care for themselves yet they refuse to get the help they need. What can I do to honor them yet insure their safety?
The list is endless. Perhaps you are dealing with a hardship for which there is no easy, discernible, black and white answer. Please know that the Lord is in your trial. He is Lord of the gray areas of our lives.
So how do we gain wisdom that helps us navigate a broken and complex world? Here are some thoughts— by no means exhaustive— but I pray they will be useful in helping you seek God’s wisdom in your particular situation.
- The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. This is such a commonly referenced Scripture that I’m afraid it has lost its weight. Do you live in awe of the God who knit you in your mother’s womb and redeemed you? Are you utterly amazed that the Creator is your Father? That he knows you by name and is eternally committed to you? Why is reverence and awe before God necessary for wisdom? Only when we have a right view of God as Creator and ourselves as creatures, who need revelation outside ourselves, can we come with hearts fully submitted and eager to hear from Wisdom himself. This alone is fertile ground for wisdom to take root.
- Marinate in the Word. Make it your life’s ambition to study the whole counsel of God. Sit regularly under faithful preaching and teaching. Read large swaths of Scripture to understand the context, which is essential for appropriate, life giving application. Read with a desire to better understand the Author, what he loves and hates, and to learn how his ways our different than our ways. Use the confession of faith, creeds, and other resources to aid your understanding and application of God’s Word. Over time, with the blessing of the Holy Spirit, God promises to use his Word to change the way we think, the way we respond to hardships and suffering, and to grant us the necessary Kingdom perspective that keeps us from losing the forest for the trees. He’ll use the Word to make us more like Jesus, the very wisdom of God.
- Pray fervently for wisdom. God promises to grant you wisdom if you ask in faith. Cry out to God in your confusion, sadness, fear, anger, numbness, etc. He will help you in your time of need and guide you along righteous paths. Be prepared for wisdom to take other forms. It may not be a direct answer to your question or a solution for your crisis. It may look like peace in the midst of the storm, an abiding trust in God’s presence and power, the ability to be still, knowing He is God. It may be a humble acceptance that the problem has no solution this side of heaven, coupled with the hope of the new heavens and earth. It may be the realization that you don’t need to know everything, but God does and this is sufficient for you. It may look like confidence to move forward with a decision because you believe afresh that you can’t thwart his plans no matter what mistakes you make along the way. These are examples of Spirit-wrought, applied theology—the very essence of wisdom.
- Seek counsel from godly people and Christ-centered resources. Wisdom begins with humility before God and continues with humility before men. Recognize your limitations and be willing to say “I don’t know; I need help.” Godly counselors will be careful to not say less than what the Word says but will not say more. That is, they will lovingly proclaim truth as revealed in the Word, but will not bind your conscience with opinions that they’ve made equal to the commands of God.
Do you feel better prepared to tackle the hard questions above? I can’t imagine you do. I didn’t give you enough information, nor have you had time to pray, to reflect on God’s Word, or to seek counsel elsewhere. But I am hopeful, if nothing else, you’ve gained insight on how to pursue wisdom. May the Spirit, who alone applies the Word, make us wise for the sake of Christ and the good of his Church.
CB is married to Frank and is Elizabeth’s mom. She has been on staff at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Lakeland, Florida for ten years serving as Congregational Care Coordinator and Biblical Counselor. CB’s responsibilities at Covenant include working alongside pastors, elders and deacons to coordinate spiritual and physical care for members, Biblical counseling, and women’s spiritual formation. CB holds a Biblical Counseling Certificate issued by Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). In 2014, CB was appointed to the PCA Women’s Ministry national team as the Florida Regional Advisor.