Commentary: God provides wisdom in a world of confusion


If you fly a lot, you know that much of what happens on your journey can appear senseless and frustrating. On one occasion I sat at the terminal gate for hours after loading a plane. Another trip taught me that being number 43 for takeoff means waiting for a few hours on the runway. More than once I’ve been rerouted away from my final destination to another city. I have circled Memphis in the air numerous times without getting permission to land.

From the ground, these actions appear to be the result of incompetence and poor planning. The view from the air traffic control tower, however, is much different. Red dots covering screens represent aircraft on the ground and in the air. Ground control monitors gates, taxiways, holding areas, and empty runways in order to ensure that every arriving and departing plane has its proper place. Air control gives clearance for takeoff while protecting the empty space around each plane. Monitoring the precise moment incoming planes will arrive is also key.

Though we travelers cannot see the interconnectivity, what happens in Atlanta can affect Dallas, which impacts Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and virtually every destination on the map. Our limited perspective feeds our annoyance largely because we falsely assume that our limited knowledge and experience are all that matters.

The same burden is often true about life. So much of what happens in our fallen world is both puzzling and bewildering. Sometimes we question, doubt, and even challenge God due to our lack of understanding. The greater the heartache, the more quickly we jump to conclusions about what the Lord is or is not doing in our lives. Despite our assumptions to the contrary, godly wisdom does not enable us to grasp the WHY behind every WHAT.

Unfortunately, we lack the insight of heaven’s air traffic control. Biblical wisdom is more like being stuck in an airport through the night, but still trusting that there is a good reason for it; still believing that such delays our for the safety of every weary traveler; and still being respectful to those around you in pressure situations. Stated simply, true wisdom results in obedience to God despite what we see and what we feel. It’s applying eternal truth to ordinary circumstances when what we really want to do is panic. Wisdom is not understanding so that you can obey; it is obeying even when you don’t understand.

Thankfully, God is willing to grant such wisdom to any Christ-follower who asks (James 1:5). The Lord will not chastise you when you seek guidance. He will not remind you of all your past mistakes. God has no intention of shaming you when you need direction. The only key is that you turn to Him as the only source of true wisdom (1 Cor. 1:30; Col. 2:3). Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

How does the Lord reveal the treasures of wisdom to us? Primarily, through the pages of Holy Scripture. The Apostle Paul instructs us, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another . . . (Col 3:16)” The psalmist celebrated, “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes (Psa. 19-7-8).”

How can you know for sure that God’s wisdom governs your life? Both good deeds and gentleness are primary markers (James 3:13). To be more specific, the Bible explains that being pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, unwavering, without hypocrisy, and full of mercy are the practical expressions of wise living.

To contrast, the Bible also lays bare the devilish lifestyle that contradicts heavenly prudence. Those who live with bitter jealously, prize selfish ambition, and war against the truth do not possess the wisdom that comes from above (James 3:15). These evil expressions are just as demonic as the worldview that motivates them. Hell whispers, “It’s all about you!” “Do what feels good.” “Find your truth.” Ultimately, those who profess to be wise in and of themselves become fools (Rom. 1:22).

The great preacher Charles Spurgeon once remarked, “Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.” May God give us the grace to KNOW and DO in light of His wisdom.


Dr. Adam B. Dooley is pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, Tenn., and author of Hope When Life Unravels. Contact him at Follow him on Twitter @AdamBDooley.