WISDOM: LEARNING TO TRUST GOD
I am excited to be starting a teaching series in the wisdom books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Job. The Bible Project put together a series of videos on these that I will be using as a jumping off point. As I watched them it occurred to me that the development of the wisdom tradition of Israel parallels the faith development of most people. Let me explain.
PROVERBS: There is a way things work.
Proverbs promotes a somewhat black and white view of the world. It sees things simply. The wise prosper. Fools fail. If you listen to wisdom and learn the way things work, life will go better for you. In general, these observable laws seem to govern the universe. More often than not, they work.
ECCLESIASTES: It’s all smoke.
Ecclesiastes is a conscious critique of Proverbs’ view of reality. It doesn’t always work that way. Good people die. Bad people die. Nothing lasts. Every rule has an exception. Maybe we can’t really know what is true and what is best. The best we can do is enjoy the moment. But don’t get carried away. You are still accountable to God.
JOB: When there are no answers, you learn to trust God.
Job experiences terrible tragedy and suffering. His friends give him answers straight out of proverbs. Job must have done something foolish or sinful that caused his suffering. Job responds like Ecclesiastes and then even worse. I wish I was never born. God made a mistake. He ends up blaming God and accusing him of mismanagement. But then he has an experience of God where he is forever changed. He shuts his mouth and trusts God instead of accusing him.
FAITH: Learning to Trust God
As people mature in their faith, it usually looks like this same progression. Their faith starts simply. They learn wisdom like proverbs. They see the fruit of good decisions and wise actions. But sometimes they mistake proverbs for promises and they get disillusioned. They begin to deconstruct their faith like Ecclesiastes when everything is not as simple as they believed. They may even start to accuse God like Job, even if only in the privacy of their own hearts. Life doesn’t seem fair. God doesn’t come through. But when they have endured the dark night of suffering and God’s seeming absence, they may have an encounter with God that changes everything. Unfortunately, it is almost always on the other side of suffering as it was for Job. Faith is a journey in learning to trust God. We trust first that he has the answers. Then we start to question the answers we were given. Eventually we trust God with or without answers.
Join us as we explore these themes August 19th, 26th and Sept. 2nd.