We have a loving, merciful, and powerful God who can change our difficult circumstance into joyful ones. So why does disaster and unsafety still surround us? This is a question that we cannot fully answer, but this passage reminds us that at times we have a part to play in our path to wellbeing:
My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared. (Proverbs 3:21-26)
The father is exhorting the son to retain wisdom after the son has found it. It is not enough to know God’s ways: we must remember them often and keep them present before us so we will be able to apply them when needed.
When I was 21 years old, I was challenged by a mentor to read the book of Proverbs a few times in a row. I was instructed, however, to read only one chapter per day. There are 31 chapters in the book, so approximately every month I began the process again.
After just a few months, I could truly notice an improvement in my decision-making skills, long-term thought process, and my trust in God. I had found wisdom and I loved it! But my life wasn’t supernaturally perfect after that. By the fourth or fifth month I got tired and decided to read something else. Nowadays I go back to the systematic reading of Proverbs at least once a year, especially when I feel I need God’s guidance to make big decisions in life.
The book of James tells us that the way to find wisdom is to ask God for it:
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. (James 1:5-6)
As we trust in God to lead us with His wisdom, we must trust also in the process He chooses to lead us through. Sometimes it might look quick and miraculous; other times we might walk with Him though the valley of death. But we must remember that He is always by our side.
Questions for reflection and discussion: Do you feel like God is taking too long to answer any of your prayers? Is it possible that He is doing something better through the process He is using? What is a long process you have experienced that brought you closer to God?