It’s easy, when we are newly aware of our need for wisdom, to become overwhelmed with what we don’t know. We see our lack of wisdom and can be discouraged because we know we need it.
But God’s timetable is not ours. He always has a reason for not giving wisdom, and it is always loving. Today I’m thinking through some reasons I’ve experienced and observed.
First, I’ve discovered that God likes us to actually want what we’re asking for. He wants us to seek for wisdom like treasure, often. Think about how casually we can pray about things: “It would be really nice to have wisdom. I wouldn’t feel so lost all the time.” One evidence that we care too little for spiritual things is our forgetfulness. We pray for something and forget that we even asked for it. When God doesn’t give wisdom, I remember that I asked for it and I still need it! Another evidence that we care too little is our actions: I say I want wisdom, but I get discouraged too quickly looking for it, because it doesn’t come easy.
It helps me in these times to consider my own children and their requests. Have you ever been given your child a gift or experience that they really didn’t value? Awhile back some neighbor children had these scooters that wrote with chalk when you stepped close to the back. Lee and I laughed because our children wanted one. Sure enough, they stopped asking because it wasn’t as exciting as they once thought it was. Over the years, I’ve learned that waiting to see what requests are regularly recurring gives me a better sense of what to look for for Christmas or Birthday presents. An offhand request might be simply because they saw an advertisement for a toy or item, but if I keep hearing about the item, I get a better sense of what is really important to my children. When God doesn’t give wisdom, I feel it. I’m motivated to think about it more, to look for it more. I can’t forget it when I’m regularly at my wit’s end. I have to come again to the throne of grace and find the help I need. I read my Bible more faithfully, and when I read it, I’m looking for answers. I want wisdom more desperately. You promise, God! Where are the answers you promise?
And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? 8 I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread[d] from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Luke 11:5-13
When God doesn’t give wisdom, I’ve on occasion realized later that God did give wisdom and I didn’t recognize it. Perhaps I thought wisdom was like knowing the future, or at the least a definitive answer to my questions. How could wisdom be so tentative? Maybe I’m not alone in not always recognizing wisdom. I’m always amazed when women are discouraged about not having the wisdom they’ve been asking for, but I can see as we talk that God has indeed been answering. Maybe we need to be encouraging others in this way, more, and maybe we need to be praying that when he gives wisdom, we’ll know what it is! We learn wisdom inductively: this is wisdom, and so is this. Here is another part of wisdom. And so on, until we really do know what wisdom is. The next time you read Proverbs, put wisdom in that framework, and you may find wisdom making more sense.
Tomorrow, we’ll talk about a few more reasons.