I don’t know about you, but some days (every day) I need to grab a breath of fresh air and gain some perspective. Some days facing the world, political drama, rubbing against the lives of those nearby and hearing the unkind words of those far away jumbles together into a giant mess that can be a bit disheartening.
Fortunately, it is only disheartening from my limited perspective, which is why it is so important to stop and look at life from a different frame of reference regularly. From my perspective, I see a lot of corrupt people. I often wonder who is telling the truth. I see a lot of hurt, and a lot of hurt people hurting other people whether they want to or not.
This often mixes together with good things. Blessings abound in my life, to be sure. The more I enter relationships with others, the more I see both beauty and pain, joy and chaos.
Alongside others, this can be far too much. It can make you want to retreat even though you know you should not. At these times, I realize I do need to retreat, but just long enough to be replenished and to love again. My source of love is the God who is love, and if I am not filled with his Spirit, I have little joy and nothing to offer.
In the middle of life’s challenges, navigating in love is so essential if we don’t want those things to get worse. But in the middle of these days, we are also in need of wisdom. Wisdom seems a bit sparse at times, but we have been told where to find it.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10
Often when people discuss the fear of the Lord they explain that the fear of the Lord is not terror but reverence and awe. Or conversely, they might do the opposite as a reaction, reminding people that we do really have reason to fear God in the way we generally think.
The truth is, when we look up the original word in the Hebrew lexicon , it includes all these forms of fear, and adds respect, reverence and piety.
Proverbs come in distinct forms, and this one has two parallel parts. We understand the first better as we look to the second. If we do that, we see that “fear of the LORD” is parallel with “knowledge of the Holy One.” Basically, we learn from this that this fear of the Lord has to do with knowing who God is.
Do you want to be wise? Know God.
In his word, we learn of a God who is holy. This passage itself parallels the name of the LORD with the “Holy One.” The only reason we will ever be able to stand before God at all is because of Christ. If we stand in rebellion against him, we should fear in the most common modern usage of the term.
Yet, we also learn of a God that is deserving of awe. He created all things. Do the mountains fill you with wonder? Does the immensity of the universe humble you? Then marvel at the God who created them. If we can delight in a wonderful book, painting or movie, how much more can we delight in the creator of creative people? How much more can we delight in the One who made everything out of nothing. Our creativity is but a reflection of His.
We can marvel at His creation because it is beautiful, diverse, and detailed beyond our comprehension. Yet, we can also stand amazed at his power to create. A God who can create all of this deserves this kind of fear.
We learn of a God who is both just and merciful. In a world where justice sometimes seems completely illusive, we see stories of those who cried out over injustice and were heard by the God of the universe. As our nation questions who is telling the truth in the highest matters of justice in the land, I am thankful for the God who knows and sees all things, even the hearts of men. His justice is impartial in a world where partiality and partisan politics seems to rule.
And yet, justice itself can be a frightening thing when we sit in the seat of the accused and guilty. When we ourselves deserve wrath due to justice, he found a way to save us. When we, his creation, rebelled, he pursued us in love. He found a way to satisfy his justice and free us.
We learn of a patient God who perseveres throughout centuries, and yet a God who knows every hair on our head and every tear we have cried.
We learn of a God who can laugh at rulers who plot against him. The mightiest rulers in the world are as nothing to him. Fear God, and you don’t have to fear principalities or powers.
What kind of knowledge do we need to have of God to gain this wisdom? Learning about Him through reading His word is great, but if we know about Him in the same way we know about Gandalf it does not lead to the wisdom mentioned. We may think Gandalf is a great character, but we also know he is not real. The wisdom of knowing God comes from a belief in him. This knowledge is a relational knowledge, that differs from knowing about something.
When you trust in God and know him relationally as your Father, that knowledge grows and deepens with time through his word and prayer. When you first experience the fear of a real and holy God, followed by the awe and reverence of his grandeur and love… that’s just the beginning of wisdom.
Today, if you are struggling and in need of perspective, take a step back and spend time with God in prayer. From His perspective, our concerns are small, and He can handle them. From His perspective, the time is short, and our difficulties are light and momentary compared to eternity.