This is the third part of blogging my way through “Knowing God” – see the intro post here. Yesterday I read the chapter “God’s Wisdom and Ours”, which I really needed to hear!
One thing which I found particularly helpful was Jim Packer’s analogy about a railway station. Allow me to explain. If you go to York Station (for example) as a passenger, you’ll see a busy station with lots of trains running across all the different platforms. Now, occasionally a train might be delayed – and you don’t know why. But if you go in to the control room, you’ll see a wall full of computer equipment which will give you all sorts of information about why a train might need to be delayed – by seeing the bigger picture, you’ll be able to understand why.
Packer says that this is how we sometimes try to understand wisdom: by thinking that if we were just that little bit closer to God, a bit better at listening to Him, we would be able to understand why things happen. But, Packer says, this is not the case. If we try to understand every little element of why, we will drive ourselves mad! God has hidden his ways from us, to keep us humble and teach us to walk by faith. True wisdom is, instead, to trust in God and rejoice in Him, even when we cannot discern His path.
He quotes this from Richard Baxter to summarise:
Ye saints, who toil below,
adore your heavenly King,
And onwards as ye go
Some joyful anthem sing.
Take what He gives,
And praise Him still
Through good and ill
Who ever lives.
If I’m honest, this chapter resonated with me in my situation: why do people – like my Mum – get ill? Why have things happened one way and not another? I don’t know. But the appropriate response is not despair; the appropriate response of wisdom is trusting in the One who does know.