I can't believe we're in the final month of 2016 already! This year seems to have sped by in a blur. As I look back to where it began, I remember the word I received all those months ago. The word that remained an anchor through all the storms we faced as a family; the sure footing on slippery slopes of doubt and fear; the beacon of hope in the darkness of uncertainty.
“But let him who glories, glory in this. That he understands and knows Me...” Jeremiah 9:24
“...whose hope is the Lord...like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:8
And oh, what a year of heat and drought it's been! I cannot claim to understand and know God in totality (I doubt if a lifetime would suffice), but there was progress, thankfully. As I consider this year, I think that the one aspect or characteristic of God I can claim to “know” is wisdom.
Paul states,“God, alone wise...” (Romans 16:27) and again, “God, who alone is wise...” (1 Timothy 1:17) and I'm beginning to understand how truly real that is. And the most amazing part of it is that it is true in a way I would never expect. Looking back, if you had told me that my husband was going to lose his job, that we'd not have a home, and that our faith would be shaken to the core -- and that all this was a part of God's wise plan for us in 2016 -- I would have laughed and said, no, my God is a God of blessings. He would make a way out.
But today, after facing all those issues, I wouldn't be so hasty in my answer. Yes, He is undoubtedly a God of blessings; it's only that the blessings came in the form of unemployment, temporary homelessness, and existential angst! I'm not trying to promote a “the-glass-is-half-full” philosophy; as anyone who knows me well can attest, I'm generally known as the wet blanket in the family! Yet, I can say with complete assurance, that though God's wisdom is probably going to get labelled as foolishness by humanity, it is the very thing we need.
Was it wise that my husband lost his job? Yes, because otherwise, he would never have decided to do a PhD on creating a meaningful work culture. Was it wise for us to not have a home for all those months? Yes, because, otherwise we would never have understood the beauty of true hospitality. Was it wise that we had a crisis of faith? Yes, oh yes, because that was when I truly fellowshipped with God; I learnt the joy that comes from opening my mouth and singing song after song, regardless of my unchanging circumstances. I glimpsed some of the suffering our Lord experienced when He faced rejection, and the love He poured out nevertheless. And I saw God at work, building relationships that I'd thought were past mending, resurrecting faith in a heart I thought was dead, and giving hope through the communion of new friends.
How incongruous and inexplicable is the wisdom of God. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1: 25 – 31, harking back to Jeremiah's words at the end,
"Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—that, as it is written,“He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”
The epitome of God's wisdom, Jesus, came in a similarly incongruous way - the Holy of Holies was laid on a bed of hay on His first night on Earth. Looking at that tiny baby, would that have seemed like the wisest way to save a world of sinners? Unlikely. Trump and Modi would probably laugh at that picture. Forget them, even we would not entrust our future in the hands of anything that seemed so helpless.
Yet, God in His wisdom did just that. God's wisdom brings us to the end of ourselves. It makes us see how frail we truly are. It reveals our utter helplessness. And at that point, of complete loss of pride and self-confidence, the power of God comes to life. And everything we have ever read in the Bible begins to suddenly make sense! So though my circumstances may not have changed into earthly “blessings”, the One I worship is my reward, the greatest gift I could ever ask for.
So I will glory in Him!
Photo Credit: Unsplash