Friday, November 26, 2010

Wisdom = Sorrow

Let me share with you a very odd thing I experienced recently. I prayed to God for wisdom as Solomon did. I prayed to God for knowledge and discretion, for insight and understanding, and for prudence and discernment. I prayed for that which he (Solomon) said are better than gold and silver. I've sought them, watched daily at wisdom's doors, waited at its doorway.. "For whoever finds me (wisdom) finds life and receives favor from the Lord."

So, I thought it was all good. Since the real Wisdom is written in the Bible, then it contains the best guide to the right path and the best framework for decision making. However, what caught me off-guard was that the more I sought and pondered about wisdom, the more it unraveled itself, the more depressed I got. It reminded me that I could not meet God's standards. It convicted me of my shortcomings.

Occasionally, it left me a "You're a fool!" mark when I could not always answer my parents like a patient and obedient daughter should; when I rejected some much-needed corrections; when I groaned and complained once being disciplined; when I was too prideful and avoided godly counsel; etc. Basically, it showed me that I was more often wrong and opened alternative (and usually painful) pathways for me. Ways that would be more pleasing to God. Ways that would ultimately save my life here on earth. And when I tried to do the rights things, I can't hardly accomplish any of them perpetually.

I'm not sure if you feel the same way -- incompetent, unworthy, sinner. You've been a Christian for years, you've sought the Lord for months and yet you still find yourself lacking in several aspects. Why don't you try to read and digest a chapter of Proverbs each day in the coming 31 days of December and tell me how you feel?

I was not surprised that when I turned to Solomon's next book, Ecclesiastes, I faced this particular adage (v.18): "For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief." This verse shows a very realistic grasp of our sinful nature. Because of sin, we are not able to enjoy wisdom and knowledge. Both of them are naturally good. Both are supposed to lead us to a joyful and blessed life. However our sinful nature is just not compatible with them. Our being sometimes disregards wisdom in moments of trials despite having acquired it. That's why the more "right things" that we know we have to do, the more instances we see our inability to achieve them due to our sinful nature.

Solomon himself was considered to "have grown and increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem." And yet he admitted that he experienced "madness and folly." He acquired not only riches and knowledge, but also 700 wives and 300 concubines that ultimately led to his downfall! He had a deep well of wisdom, a massive think tank, to know God's clear command that “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods” (1 Kings 11:2). "As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been" (v4). So despite the fact that he was blessed with wisdom, Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD and of course he was punished for it.

Solomon's deliberate act of folly was a clear indication that knowing and gaining wisdom alone will not save us from life's perils. We may have the desire to follow God's path, but our human imperfections and our attraction to Satan's temptations make us fall short in doing so. Having the wisdom and knowing it will definitely fill us with sorrow and grief, a depressing feeling of utter helplessness, and I think this is what Jesus could be saying in His beatitudes: "Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven."

The"poor" here is translated from ptochos, which literally means "to crouch or cower as one helpless." Nobody wants to be poor. It denotes weakness, frailty, dependence, affliction and distress. Who in the right mind would want to go out and beg for alms right? But this is where more wisdom is bringing us ~ to sorrow. And this is where God is most pleased to see us ~ in full dependence of Him.

As a famous preacher named Charles Spurgeon once said, "The way to rise in the kingdom is to sink in ourselves." It is this realization of our utter unworthiness, a sense of spiritual need and destitution, that drives us to seek Christ to lift it. (Source: Truly, the poor in spirit will be blessed, for theirs is the Kingdom of God!

May we continue to seek God for His wisdom and knowledge even if it will bring us much sorrow and grief. We ought to feel the sorrow, we out to feel the grief. Because through this we will find the real condition of our self, poor in spirit.

God bless you!

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