When God doesn’t give wisdom, I sometimes discover that I want wisdom for the wrong reasons. Not getting what I’m asking for motivates me to examine our motives again. Do I want well behaved children because they are embarrassing me? Do I want my children to be saved in order to validate my approach to teaching the gospel? Am I wanting my children to be better at cleaning their rooms because I feel like a failure when they’re a disaster? (not to mention that I am convicted when I see my own faults reflected in my children)
You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. James 4:3
Not getting an answer for wisdom helps me to ask for the right thing. I might ask God to remove a difficult situation affecting my children. I might ask God to fix a child whose personality is incomprehensible to me, but then I would be missing the reason God created that child in the first place. Instead, I have to look for God’s purpose. I don’t always see it, but as we learn in Proverbs, asking is a part of wisdom. It’s a good thing to realize how much I really need wisdom. I don’t always get that until I’m asking God in desperation for it. I think it’s all about the answers, and God wants to teach me something bigger.
Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.Psalm 37:4
For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee. Psalm 84:11-12
Not getting an answer for wisdom helps me to avoid a helpless mentality. Often when I’m asking for wisdom, I really want God just to tell me what to do. God gave me a mind, and wisdom of necessity uses it. So when I ask for wisdom and don’t get an direct answer (“Dear Michelle, Your child will finally learn to keep her room clean when she is twelve. In the meantime, you must begin each day from now until then by helping her clean it. Here are three easy steps that will certainly help her….”) I realize that I must make a decision myself. Today I helped the girls with their room first thing in the morning. It was the right decision for today. Did God give me that wisdom, or did I figure it out myself? I am learning that it is both.
Him [Jesus] we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. 29 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily. Colossians 1:28-29 (Isn’t this a great parenting verse?)
When God doesn’t give wisdom, I learn patience. I discover that the things I thought were urgent weren’t. I learn that God has given provision in unexpected ways. When I look backwards, I see that God’s guidance came at the right time, sometimes years after I have been praying for wisdom in a certain situation. The trying of my faith does bring patience, and so I’m motivated to keep searching and asking. Often I’m praying for an ongoing situation and I have to remind myself that I know God: he loves my family more than I do. He will do what is best for them, and he will accomplish everything he desires in their lives. It is no accident that James talks about patience and wisdom in nearly the same breath.
Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. James 1:3-5
God is faithful! He loves it when his children come to him in need of wisdom. He loves to give it! If we don’t see it, there’s a reason, and it is good.