There’s Wisdom, and then There’s Wisdom

Job ponders the question “Where shall wisdom be found?” For Job, this is a soul searching question, not just idle speculation. Job has suffered greatly the loss of his loved ones. The death of his wife and children. He has also suffered illness and disease. Though he has lived a righteous life, his suffering is as great, even greater than those who had lived a god-forsaken life. There’s more to his question about wisdom than just casual curiosity. He’s also asking, “Why me? Why do all these terrible things have to happen to me? What have I done to deserve this?”

Job’s friends, attempting to give “wise” counsel advise him to recognize and confess the sin he must have committed to deserve such a fate. “By disease is the skin of the wicked consumed,” says one. “All the force of misery will come upon them,” says another. In this way, Job’s friends try to convince him of his sin. Some friends, huh? They are so uncomfortable with Job’s bitter complaints against God, Job’s searching questions, that they turn it around and say, “Who are you to question God?”

“Where shall wisdom be found?” God only knows. In the midst of Job’s bitter complaints, he boldly asserts, “Truly the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom.” Those who respect the power of the Lord are the ones who possess wisdom. This answer seems so unlikely coming from Job, the one who bitterly complained against God. But it makes sense if you consider that Job is so intimately involved with God that he hides nothing, his anger, his fear, his respect, his love. He offers all to God through his complaints, his cries, his protest and his praise.

Would you consider Job a wise person? Certainly his wisdom does not serve to protect him against suffering. If it is wisdom he possesses, what good is it? What purpose does it serve? I must confess that when I meet someone who is crying out to God or singing God’s praises while lying prone in a hospital bed, suffering pain and confusion, I find it difficult to understand. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Maybe it’s just something you have to figure out as you go along. 

Wisdom from God often confounds those searching for wisdom in things that make sense. It makes no sense that an infinitely wise God chose the Jews over other stronger, even more righteous peoples to declare the message of deliverance. It makes no sense that almighty God would come in the form of a servant, accepting death on a cross for our sake. The wisdom of God often makes no sense, but it certainly makes a difference.

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