What does the Bible mean when it calls God wise? In Scripture, wisdom is a moral as well as an intellectual quality, more than mere intelligence or knowledge, just as it is more than mere cleverness or cunning. For us to be truly wise, in the Bible sense, our intelligence and cleverness must be harnessed to a right end. Wisdom is the power to see, and the inclination to choose, the best and highest goal, together with the surest means of attaining it.
The Bible tells us that God is wise?
What does that mean?
In the Bible, wisdom has two parts to it. And like the horse and carriage, both parts are important.
On the one hand, wisdom is an intellectual quality. It is to do with intelligence and knowledge—but it is more than that.
It is to do with being clever and shrewd—but it is more than that.
Wisdom is also a moral quality.
Let’s compare cleverness to a horse and God’s good purpose to a carriage.
Cleverness by itself is useless.
But wisdom is like the horse and carriage put together, where cleverness is harnessed to a right end—to a good purpose.
being able to see (intellectual quality) and wanting to choose (moral quality)
– the best and highest goal and
– the surest way of reaching that goal.
Wisdom is, in fact, the practical side of moral goodness. As such, it is found in its fullness only in God. He alone is naturally and entirely and invariably wise. “His wisdom ever waketh,” says the hymn, and it is true. God is never other than wise in anything that he does. Wisdom, as the old theologians used to say, is his essence, just as power, and truth, and goodness, are his essence—integral elements, that is, in his character.
Actually, wisdom is the practical side of moral goodness.
Perfect wisdom is only found in God.
Everything about God’s nature is wise all the time. No one else is like that.
The hymn ‘In Heavenly Love Abiding’ by Anna L. Waring speaks of the wisdom of God as always being awake.
His wisdom ever waketh,
His sight is never dim;
He knows the way He taketh,
And I will walk with Him.
“His wisdom ever waketh,” says the hymn, and it is true.
God can only be wise in everything that He does.
When the old theologians listed the qualities that made up God’s character, they listed wisdom as one of those qualities along with qualities like—
– truth, and
Wisdom: Ours and God’s
Human wisdom can be frustrated by circumstantial factors outside the wise person’s control. Ahithophel, David’s turncoat counselor, gave sound advice when he urged Absalom to finish David off at once, before he had recovered from the first shock of Absalom’s revolt. But Absalom stupidly took a different line, and Ahithophel, seething with wounded pride—foreseeing, no doubt, that the revolt was now sure to fail, and unable to forgive himself for being such a fool as to join it—went home in despair and committed suicide (2 Sam 17).
Wise people often come up with wise plans.
But circumstances can change suddenly and frustrate the wisest plan.
Ahithophel’s plan is an example of a wise plan that failed, and you can find it in 2 Samuel 17.
Ahithophel was King David’s counselor, and he was known for his wise advice. Towards the end of his service to David, he turned against David and joined the side of David’s son Absolom.
Ahithophel’s advise to Absolom was to kill David quickly before he recovered from the shock of Absolom’s revolt.
This was good advice.
But Absolom stupidly followed another plan.
Ahithophel could see that Absolom’s plan was sure to fail.
Ahithophel realised that he had been a fool to join Absolom’s revolt.
His pride was wounded, and he was too proud to forgive himself. So he just went home and committed suicide.
But God’s wisdom cannot be frustrated in the way that Ahithophel’s good advice (v. 14) was, for it is allied to omnipotence. Power is as much God’s essence as wisdom is. Omniscience governing omnipotence, infinite power ruled by infinite wisdom, is a basic biblical description of the divine character. “His wisdom is profound, his power is vast” (Job 9:4). “To God belong wisdom and power” (Job 12:13). “He is mighty in strength and wisdom” (Job 36:5 KJV). He has “great power and mighty strength. . . and his understanding no one can fathom” (Is 40:26, 28). “Wisdom and power are his” (Dan 2:20). The same conjunction appears in the New Testament; “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel. . . God only wise” (Rom 16:25, 27 KJV). Wisdom without power would be pathetic, a broken reed; power without wisdom would be merely frightening; but in God boundless wisdom and endless power are united, and this makes him utterly worthy of our fullest trust.
But God’s wisdom cannot be frustrated in the way that Ahithophel’s good advice was, because God’s wisdom goes side-by-side with His power.
. . . For the Lord had determined to frustrate the good advice of Ahithophel in order to bring disaster on Absalom. (2 Samuel 17:14)
Wisdom is God’s essence, but so is power.
God’s omnipotence (being all-powerful) is ruled by God’s omniscience (being all-knowing).
God’s infinite power is ruled by infinite wisdom.
This is how the Bible describes God’s character.
From the Old Testament
“His wisdom is profound, his power is vast” (Job 9:4)
“To God belong wisdom and power” (Job 12:13)
“He is mighty in strength and wisdom” (Job 36:5)
He has “great power and mighty strength. . . and his understanding no one can fathom” (Is 40:26, 28)
“Wisdom and power are his” (Dan 2:20)
From the New Testament
“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel. . . God only wise” (Rom 16:25, 27)
Wisdom without power would be pathetic and useless.
Power without wisdom would be frightening and useless.
But in God—boundless wisdom and endless power come together.
And this makes Him absolutely trustworthy.
God’s almighty wisdom is always active, and never fails. All his works of creation and providence and grace display it, and until we can see it in them we just are not seeing them straight. But we cannot recognize God’s wisdom unless we know the end for which he is working. Here many go wrong. Misunderstanding what the Bible means when it says that God is love (see 1 Jn 4:8-10), they think that God intends a trouble-free life for all, irrespective of their moral and spiritual state, and hence they conclude that anything painful and upsetting (illness, accident, injury, loss of job, the suffering of a loved one) indicates either that God’s wisdom, or power, or both, have broken down, or that God, after all, does not exist.
God’s powerful wisdom is always active, and it never fails.
God’s wisdom is displayed:
– in the things God has created,
– in the way God works out His care and protection, and
– in God’s goodness to undeserving people.
If we are not able to see God’s wisdom in God’s actions, then it shows that we are not seeing properly.
But we cannot recognize God’s wisdom in God’s actions if we misunderstand God’s purpose.
This is where many get it wrong.
People misunderstand God’s purpose.
They think that because God is love, God wants everyone to have a trouble-free life—whatever their moral and spiritual state may be.
Naturally they come to the wrong conclusion when anything painful and upsetting happens, such as—
– loss of job, or
– the suffering of a loved one.
At such times, they conclude one of the following—
– that God’s wisdom has broken down
– that God’s power has broken down
– that both God’s wisdom and power have broken down, or
– that God does not exist after all.
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:8-10)
But this idea of God’s intention is a complete mistake: God’s wisdom is not, and never was, pledged to keep a fallen world happy, or to make ungodliness comfortable. Not even to Christians has he promised a trouble-free life; rather the reverse. He has other ends in view for life in this world than simply to make it easy for everyone.
But this idea that God wants everyone to have a trouble-free life is a complete mistake.
God’s wisdom was—
– never meant to keep a fallen world happy
– nor to make ungodliness comfortable.
God has not promised to give even Christians a trouble-free life.
In fact the Bible is clear that Christians will suffer in this world.
God has other plans for life in this world than simply to make it easy for everyone.
What is he after, then? What is his goal? What does he aim at? When he made us, his purpose was that we should love and honor him, praising him for the wonderfully ordered complexity and variety of his world, using it according to his will, and so enjoying both it and him. And though we have fallen, God has not abandoned his first purpose. Still he plans that a great host of humankind should come to love and honor him. His ultimate objective is to bring them to a state in which they please him entirely and praise him adequately, a state in which he is all in all to them, and he and they rejoice continually in the knowledge of each other’s love-people rejoicing in the saving love of God, set upon them from all eternity, and God rejoicing in the responsive love of people, drawn out of them by grace through the gospel.
What then is God after?
What is His goal?
What is He aiming at?
When God made us, His purpose was
– that we should love and honor Him,
– that we should praise Him for the complexity and variety of His world, all of which point to the high level of intricate design that has gone into it,
– that we should use and enjoy His world in the way He wants us to, and
– that, most importantly, we should enjoy Him.
And though we have fallen, God has not given up on His first purpose for us.
He still plans that a great army of humankind should come to love and honour Him.
God’s ultimate glorious goal is to bring human beings to a state in which
– they please Him entirely,
– they praise Him adequately, and
– He is everything to them,
In this state—
He and they will rejoice continually in the knowledge of each other’s love.
– The people rejoice in the saving love of God—a love that was set on them from all eternity, and
– God rejoices in the responsive love of people—a love that is drawn out of them by grace through the gospel.
This will be God’s glory, and our glory too, in every sense which that weighty word can bear. But it will only be fully realized in the next world, in the context of a transformation of the whole created order. Meanwhile, however, God works steadily toward it. His immediate objectives are to draw individual men and women into a relationship of faith, hope, and love toward himself, delivering them from sin and showing forth in their lives the power of his grace; to defend his people against the forces of evil; and to spread throughout the world the gospel by means of which he saves.
When this goal is reached,
– it will be God’s glory, and
– it will be our glory too.
[When we use the word ‘glory’ here, we use it in every possibly sense—prestige, honour, distinction, magnificence, great beauty, splendour, grandeur, majesty]
This glorious goal will only be fully realised in the next world, after the whole creation is renewed and changed.
God’s immediate goals: But in the meantime, God has some immediate goals that He is working towards at a steady pace.
Goal 1: To draw individual men and women towards Himself
– into a relationship of faith, hope, and love,
– delivering them from sin and
– displaying the power of His grace in their lives.
Goal 2 : To defend His people against the forces of evil
Goal 3: To spread the gospel of salvation throughout the world
In the fulfillment of each part of this purpose the Lord Jesus Christ is central, for God has set him forth both as Savior from sin, whom we must trust, and as Lord of the church, whom we must obey. We have dwelt on the way in which divine wisdom was manifested in Christ’s Incarnation and cross. We would add now that it is in the light of the complex purpose which we have outlined that the wisdom of God in his dealings with individuals is to be seen.
The Lord Jesus Christ is central in the fulfillment of all these immediate goals.
This is because, God has made Jesus both
– Savior from sin, whom we must trust, and
– Lord of the church, whom we must obey.
We have spent time looking at the way in which God’s wisdom was shown in—
– Christ’s Incarnation and Christ’s cross.
We will look at the way in which God’s wisdom is to be seen in—
– His dealings with individuals.
But when we look into this, we will need to do so in the light of the complex purpose, which we have just discussed, which includes God’s glorious goal for the future as well as His immediate goals.
God Dealing With His People
Bible biography helps us here. No clearer illustrations of the wisdom of God ordering human lives can be found than in some of the scriptural narratives. Take, for instance, the life of Abraham. Abraham was capable of repeated shabby deceptions which actually endangered his wife’s chastity (Gen 12:10-20). Plainly, then, he was by nature a man of little moral courage, altogether too anxious about his own personal security (Gen 12:12-13; 20:11). Also, he was vulnerable to pressure; at his wife’s insistence he fathered a child upon her maid, Hagar, and when Sarai reacted to Hagar’s pride in her pregnancy with hysterical recriminations he let Sarai drive Hagar out of the house (Gen 16:5-6).
Bible biography helps us here.
Some of the narratives in scripture are excellent and clear illustrations of how the wisdom of God guides people.
Take, for instance, the life of Abraham. See the kind of man he originally was.
On two occasions we see how Abraham hid the fact that Sarah was his wife. On both these occasions, his deception put Sarah’s safety and sexual purity at risk.
So we know that Abraham was capable of cheap deceptions like this. On both these occasions, the reason for his deception was fear for his own safety.
. . . When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, “I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake.” . . .
So Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife; take her, and go.” (Gen 12:10-20)
From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah . . .
Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? . . . Abraham said, “I did it because I thought, ‘There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’ (Gen 20:1-13)
We also read that at his wife’s insistence, he fathered a son with her maid Hagar. Hagar’s gloating about her pregnancy made Sarai react hysterically, and she told Abraham to send Hagar away. Abraham did not stop Sarai from being harsh with Hagar. The Bible says that Hagar fled from Sarai.
And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her. (Gen 16:5-6)
It is clear from all this that Abraham by nature was:
– a man who lacked moral courage,
– a man who was too anxious about his own personal safety, and
– a man who was easy to influence.
Plainly, then, Abraham was not by nature a man of strong principle, and his sense of responsibility was somewhat deficient. But God in wisdom dealt with this easygoing, unheroic figure to such good effect that not merely did he faithfully fulfill his appointed role on the stage of church history, as pioneer occupant of Canaan, first recipient of God’s covenant (Gen 18:17), and father of Isaac, the miracle child; he also became a new man.
It is obvious that by nature, Abraham was—
– a man without strong principles, and
– a man who was somewhat irresponsible.
But God in wisdom worked on this easygoing, unheroic figure so well that—Abraham lived faithfully in the stage of church history
as God’s appointed man to be:
– a pioneer settler in Canaan,
– the first recipient of God’s covenant, and
– the father of Isaac the miracle child.
But in addition to all this, Abraham became a new man. This also was because of God’s wise working in his life.
What Abraham needed most of all was to learn the practice of living in God’s presence, seeing all life in relation to him, and looking to him, and him alone, as Commander, Defender and Rewarder. This was the great lesson which God in wisdom concentrated on teaching him. “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward” (Gen 15:1). “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless [single-eyed and sincere]” (Gen 17:1). Again and again God confronted Abraham with himself, and so led Abraham to the point where his heart could say, with the psalmist, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you…. God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps 73:25-26). And as the story proceeds, we see in Abraham’s life the results of his learning this lesson. The old weaknesses still sometimes reappear, but alongside there emerges a new nobility and independence, the outworking of Abraham’s developed habit of walking with God, resting in his revealed will, relying on him, waiting for him, bowing to his providence, obeying him even when he commands something odd and unconventional. From being a man of the world, Abraham becomes a man of God.
What Abraham needed most of all was to learn—
– to live in God’s presence,
– to see all of life in relation to God, and
– to look to God alone as Commander, Defender and Rewarder.
This was the great lesson that God in wisdom concentrated on teaching him.
“Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward” (Gen 15:1)
“I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless [single-eyed and sincere]” (Gen 17:1)
Again and again God worked on Abraham and led him to the point where he could honesty say that God was everything to him, very much like the Psalmist in Psalm 73. “
Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You…. God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps 73:25-26)
And as the story of Abraham’s life plays out, we see the results of his learning this lesson.
The old weaknesses still sometimes reappear, but his character is clearly changing. He now—
– has a new nobility
– shows a new independence
– has developed the habit of walking with God
– rests in God’s revealed will,
– relies on Him,
– waits for Him,
– bows to the way God works out his life and care plan,
– obeys God even when He commands something strange.
From being a man of the world, Abraham becomes a man of God.
Thus, as he responds to God’s call, leaves home, and travels through the land which his descendants are to possess (Gen 12:7) —though not he himself, note: Abraham never possessed any more of Canaan than a grave (Gen 25:9-10)—we observe in him a new meekness, as he declines to claim his due precedence over his nephew Lot (13:8-9). We see also a new courage, as he sets off with a mere three hundred men to rescue Lot from the combined forces of four kings (14:14-15). We see a new dignity, as he deprecates keeping the recaptured booty, lest it should seem to have been the king of Sodom, rather than God most high, who made him rich (14:22-23). We see a new patience, as he waits a quarter of a century, from the age of seventy-five to one hundred, for the birth of his promised heir (12:4; 21:5). We see him becoming a man of prayer, an importunate intercessor burdened with a sense of responsibility before God for others’ welfare (18:23-32). We see him at the end so utterly devoted to God’s will, and so confident that God knows what he is doing, that he is willing at God’s command to kill his own son, the heir for whose birth he waited so long (chap. 22). How wisely God had taught him his lesson! And how well Abraham had learned it!
God calls Abraham, and in response to that call, Abraham leaves his home. Then he travels through a land that his descendants would one day own.
Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” . . . (Gen 12:7)
His descendants would possess it, but Abraham himself does not own any land in Canaan, except for a grave site that he purchases to bury his wife.
. . . the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, east of Mamre, the field that Abraham purchased from the Hittites . . . (Gen 25:9-10)
As all this is taking place, we see that Abraham himself is gradually changing in his character.
We see a new meekness in Abraham—
He has the right to choose the best of the land to dwell on, but he graciously asks his nephew Lot to choose first.
Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.” (Gen 13:8-9)
We see a new courage in Abraham—
Lot has been captured when the combined army of four kings loots Sodom and Gomorrah. When he hears of this, Abraham sets off with a small band of about 300 men to rescue Lot.
When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. And he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. (Gen 14:14-15)
We see a new dignity in Abraham—
When Abraham and his small band bring back all the possessions that the army of the four kings had plundered, the king of Sodom thankfully offers the recaptured booty to Abraham. But Abraham declines the offer, because he does not want it to look like the king of Sodom has made him rich, when in fact it was God who has given him wealth.
But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ (Gen 14:22-23)
We see a new patience in Abraham—
God had promised that Abraham would have a son. Abraham waits for a quarter of a century—from the age of 75 to the age of 100—for the promised son to be born.
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. (Gen 12:4)
Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. (Gen 21:5)
We see Abraham becoming a man of prayer—
He feels a deep sense of responsibility before God for the welfare of others. We see that when God is about to destroy the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham wants to somehow save his nephew Lot who lives in Sodom. So, he persistently begs God not to destroy Sodom for Lot’s sake.
Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. . .
“Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” . . .
“Suppose forty are found there.” . . .
“Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” . . .
“Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” . . .
““Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” (Gen 18:23-32)
In the end, we see that Abraham is completely devoted to doing God’s will and is so confident that God knows what He is doing—
One day God commands Abraham to kill his son Isaac. Abraham does not hesitate, and takes his son to Mt Moriah to sacrifice him—Isaac—the promised child for whom Abraham had waited so long.
After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering. . .
Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” (Gen 22:1-19)
How wisely God had taught him his lesson! And how well Abraham had learned it!
Jacob, Abraham’s grandson, needed different treatment: Jacob was a self-willed mother’s boy, blessed (or cursed) with all the opportunist instincts and amoral ruthlessness of a go-getting businessman. God in his wisdom had planned that Jacob, though he was the younger son, should have the birthright and blessing due to the firstborn, and so become the bearer of the covenant promise (28:13-15); also, he had planned that Jacob should marry his cousins Leah and Rachel and become the father of the twelve patriarchs, to whom the promise was to be passed on (chaps. 48— 49).
But Abraham’s grandson Jacob needed different treatment.
What kind of person was Jacob?
– He was headstrong.
– He was a mama’s boy.
– He took maximum advantage of opportunities—like an ambitious businessman—without thinking about whether his actions were right or wrong and without bothering about the people who he was hurting.
In His wisdom, God had planned that Jacob, the younger son, should have the birthright and the blessing that was normally given to the firstborn. As a result, the covenant promise passed from Isaac to Jacob.
God had also planned that Jacob would marry his cousins Leah and Rachel and become the father of twelve sons who would be known as the Patriarchs—the fathers of the 12 tribes of Israel. In this way, the covenant promise passed on to the Jewish people. (You can read about this in Genesis 48 and 49)
But God in his wisdom had also resolved to instill true religion into Jacob himself. Jacob’s whole attitude to life was ungodly and needed changing; Jacob must be weaned away from trust in his own cleverness to dependence upon God, and he must be made to abhor the unscrupulous double-dealing which came so naturally to him. Jacob, therefore, must be made to feel his own utter weakness and foolishness, must be brought to such complete self-distrust that he would no longer try to get on by exploiting others. Jacob’s selfreliance must go, once and for all. With patient wisdom (for God always waits for the right -time) God led Jacob to the point at which he could stamp the required sense of impotent helplessness indelibly and decisively on Jacob’s soul. It is instructive to trace the steps by which he did this.
But God in His wisdom had also decided to fix Jacob’s heart and teach him what true religion was.
Jacob’s whole attitude to life was ungodly and needed changing;
– As a habit, Jacob trusted his own cleverness. This habit needed to be broken, so that he could begin to trust in God instead.
– He was a deceiver. He was dishonest. He did not bother about whether a certain action was right or wrong. To be this way came naturally to Jacob.
God had to work on him to make him hate this kind of behaviour.
– So, Jacob needed to be brought to a point where he would feel completely weak and foolish.
– He needed to distrust himself completely, so that he would stop taking advantage of others.
– His self reliance had to go, once and for all.
God is wise and always waits for the right time. With this patient wisdom, God led Jacob to the point where Jacob could realise how powerless he was and how helpless he was. God stamped this truth very clearly on Jacob’s soul, that he was powerless and helpless.
We can learn much from retracing the steps by which God led Jacob in this way.
First, over a period of some twenty years, God let Jacob have his head in weaving complex webs of deceit, with their inevitable consequences—mutual mistrust, friendships turned to enmity, and the isolation of the deceiver. The consequences of Jacob’s cleverness were themselves God’s curse upon it. When Jacob had filched Esau’s birthright and blessing (25:29-34; 27:1-40), Esau turned against him (naturally!) and Jacob had to leave home in a hurry. He went to his uncle Laban, who proved to be as tricky a customer as Jacob himself. Laban exploited Jacob’s position and bamboozled him into marrying not only his pretty daughter, whom Jacob wanted, but also the plain one with bad eyes, for whom he would otherwise have found it hard to get a good husband (29:15- 30).
For the first 20 years or so, God allowed Jacob to deceive people close to him. The unavoidable consequences of Jacob’s cunning actions were—
mistrust between the siblings,
friendships turned to enmity, and
the deceiver Jacob becoming very isolated and alone.
God used these natural consequences of his actions to punish him.
Jacob took away Esau’s birthright and blessing. Naturally Esau became very angry with Jacob.
How Jacob snatched Esau’s birthright
Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” . . . Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, . . . (Gen 25:29-34)
How Jacob snatched Esau’s blessing
When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, “My son”; and he answered, “Here I am.” He said, “Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.”
Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau.
Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, . . . Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you. Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.” . . .
So he went and took them and brought them to his mother, and his mother prepared delicious food, such as his father loved. Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her older son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. And the skins of the young goats she put on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. And she put the delicious food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob. . .
So he went in to his father and said, “My father.” And he said, “Here I am. Who are you, my son?” Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.” . . . (Gen 27:1-40)
Esau turned against Jacob, and Jacob had to leave home in a hurry. He went to his uncle Laban, who proved to be as tricky as Jacob himself. Jacob loved Laban’s younger daughter Rachel and wanted to marry her. Laban took advantage of this and tricked him into marrying Leah, the older plain-looking daughter who had weak eyes. It would have been hard to get a good husband for Leah, but by tricking Jacob, Laban got a good husband for both his girls.
How Laban tricked Jacob
. . . Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.” So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.
Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.” So Laban gathered together all the people of the place and made a feast. But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he went in to her. . . And in the morning, behold, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” Laban said, “It is not so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.” Jacob did so, and completed her week. Then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. (Gen 29:15- 30)
Jacob’s experience with Laban was a case of the biter bit; God used it to show Jacob what it was like to be at the receiving end of a swindle—something that Jacob needed to learn, if he was ever to fall out of love with his own previous way of life. But Jacob was not cured yet. His immediate reaction was to give tit for tat; he manipulated the breeding of Laban’s sheep so astutely, with such profit to himself and loss to his employer, that Laban grew furious, and Jacob felt it prudent to leave with his family for Canaan before active reprisals began (30:25—31:55). And God, who had hitherto borne Jacob’s dishonesty without rebuke, encouraged him to go (31:3, 11-13; compare 32:1-2, 9-10); for he knew what he would do before the journey ended. As Jacob went, Laban chased after him and made it perfectly clear that he did not want to see Jacob come back (chap. 31).
Jacob’s experience with Laban was a case of the biter being bit. God used his experience with Laban to show Jacob what it was like to be at the receiving end of a fraud.
If Jacob had to start hating his old way of life, he needed to learn what it felt like to be cheated. So this experience with Laban was important.
But Jacob was not cured yet. We know this because his immediate reaction was to give tit for tat. We see this in the clever way in which Jacob managed the breeding of Laban’s sheep, so that he would profit and his employer Laban would lose. (You can read all about it in Genesis 30:25 – 31:55)
. . . So the feebler (lambs) would be Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s. Thus the man increased greatly and had large flocks, female servants and male servants, and camels and donkeys. (Gen 30:42-43)
Of course, Laban became very angry. So Jacob felt that it was better to return to Canaan with his wives and children before Laban retaliated.
Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.” (Gen 31:3)
Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am!’ And he said, ‘Lift up your eyes and see, all the goats that mate with the flock are striped, spotted, and mottled, for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now arise, go out from this land and return to the land of your kindred.’” (Gen 31:11-13)
Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them he said, “This is God’s camp!” So he called the name of that place Mahanaim.(Gen 32:1-2)
And Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good,’ I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. (Gen 32:9-10)
So far, whenever Jacob was dishonest, God had put up with it without showing His disaproval. And again this time, God encouraged him to return to Canaan. However, God knew what He was going to do before Jacob’s journey ended.
As Jacob went, Laban chased after him and caught up with him. and made it perfectly clear that he did not want to see Jacob come back.
Then Laban said to Jacob, “See this heap and the pillar, which I have set between you and me. This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness, that I will not pass over this heap to you, and you will not pass over this heap and this pillar to me, to do harm. The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.” So Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac, and Jacob offered a sacrifice in the hill country and called his kinsmen to eat bread. They ate bread and spent the night in the hill country. Early in the morning Laban arose and kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then Laban departed and returned home. (Gen 31:51-55)
(You can read all about that last meeting of Laban and Jacob in Genesis 31)
When Jacob’s caravan reached the border of Esau’s country, Jacob sent his brother a polite message to tell him of their arrival. But the news that came back made him think that Esau was bringing an armed force against him, to avenge the stolen blessing of twenty years before. Jacob was thrown into complete despair.
The travelling group—consisting of Jacob’s family and servants and all their livestock—made their way towards Canaan and finally reached the border of his brother Esau’s country. Then Jacob sent a polite message to his brother, telling him about their arrival.
What happened next made Jacob think that his brother was coming against him with an army to take revenge, because of the blessing he had stolen from Esau 20 years before. This made Jacob lose hope and become very anxious.
And now God’s time had come. That night, as Jacob stood alone by the river Jabbok, God met him (32:24-30). There were hours of desperate, agonized conflict—spiritual and, as it seemed to Jacob, physical also. Jacob had hold of God; he wanted a blessing, an assurance of divine favor and protection in this crisis, but he could not get what he sought. Instead, he grew ever more conscious of his own state—utterly helpless and, without God, utterly hopeless. He felt the full bitterness of his unscrupulous, cynical ways, now coming home to roost. He had hitherto been self-reliant, believing himself to be more than a match for anything that might come, but now he felt his complete inability to handle things, and he knew with blinding, blazing certainty that never again dare he trust himself to look after himself and to carve out his destiny. Never again dare he try to live by his wits.
And now God’s time had come.
That night, as Jacob stood alone by the river Jabbok, God met him.
And Jacob was left alone. And a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. . . Then He said, “Let Me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me.” . . . So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.(Gen 32:24-30)
During that meeting, Jacob fought desperately with this divine Person for many hours. The clash was both spiritual and physical.
Jacob held on to God and would not let go. Jacob wanted God to bless him, and he wanted God to assure him of His protection in the current crisis, but he could not get what he wanted.
Instead, he became more and more aware that without God—
– he was utterly helpless, and
– he was utterly hopeless.
He could see the unpleasant results of his dishonest past.
– he had thought that he could manage his life without help from others, and
– he had believed that he could face anything that came his way.
But now he felt that he was completely unable to cope.
He was now very very clear that he would never again dare—
– to imagine that he could look after himself,
– to trust himself to plan and shape his future, or
– to live by his own intelligence.
To make this doubly clear to Jacob, as they wrestled God lamed him (32:25), putting his thigh out of joint to be a perpetual reminder in his flesh of his own spiritual weakness, and his need to lean always upon God, just as for the rest of his life he had to walk leaning on a stick.
To make this doubly clear to Jacob, as they wrestled with each other, God dislocated his hip to make him disabled.
When the Man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, He touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with Him. (Gen 32:25)
In this way, God gave Jacob a permanent weakness in his physical body, so that he would always remember his spiritual weakness.
Just as he would always need to lean on a stick to walk, Jacob would always remember that he needed to lean on God.
Jacob abhorred himself; with all his heart he found himself for the first time hating, really hating, that fancied cleverness of his. It had set Esau against him (justly!), not to mention Laban, and now it had made his God unwilling, as it seemed, to bless him anymore. “Let me go,” said the One with whom he wrestled; it seemed as though God meant to abandon him. But Jacob held tight: “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (32:26).
Jacob hated himself now.
He used to think that he was smarter than others, but now, for the first time, he hated—really hated all his cunning and cleverness. It was his deceiving nature that had made people turn against him.
– Esau, his brother, had turned against him, and he was justified in doing so.
– Laban, his father-in-law, had turned against him.
And now it looked as if his wickedness had made even his God unwilling to bless him anymore. “Let me go,” said the One with whom he wrestled. It looked as though even God was about to abandon him. But Jacob held on tightly.
Then He said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me.” (Gen 32:26)
And now at last God spoke the word of blessing. For Jacob was now weak and despairing, and humble and dependent enough to be blessed. “He weakened my strength in the way,” said the psalmist (Ps 102:23 KJV); that was what God had done to Jacob.
Finally, God spoke the word of blessing, because God had prepared Jacob for the blessing.
Jacob was ready, now that he was—
– weak enough,
– desperate enough,
– humble enough, and
– dependent enough.
Jacob’s situation was very similar to what the Psalmist writes here:
“He has broken my strength in midcourse . . .” (Ps 102:23)
There was no particle of self-reliance left in Jacob by the time God had finished with him. The nature of Jacob’s prevailing with God (32:28) was simply that he had held on to God while God weakened him and wrought in him the spirit of submission and selfdistrust; that he had desired God’s blessing so much that he clung to God through all this painful humbling, till he came low enough for God to raise him up by speaking peace to him and assuring him that he need not fear about Esau any more.
By the time God had finished working on him, Jacob did not have even a speck of self-reliance left in him.
“. . . you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” (Gen 32:28)
The fact that Jacob prevailed after striving with God does not mean that he was strong enough to stand against God. What it means is that when God was weakening him and creating a submissive spirit in him, he held on to God.
He wanted God’s blessing so much. Even though God was putting him through a painful process of humbling, Jacob simply clung to God.
Finally, Jacob’s humbling brought him low enough for God to raise him up. Then God spoke words of peace to him and assured him that he did not need to fear Esau any more.
True, Jacob did not become a plaster saint overnight—he was not completely straight with Esau the next day (33:14-17); but in principle God had won his battle with Jacob, and won it for good. Jacob never lapsed back into his old ways. Limping Jacob had learned his lesson. The wisdom of God had done its work.
True, Jacob did not become a saint overnight—
Even the very next day, he was not completely transparent with his brother Esau.
Jacob said to Esau: Let my lord pass on ahead of his servant, and I will lead on slowly, at the pace of the livestock that are ahead of me and at the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.”
So Esau said, “Let me leave with you some of the people who are with me.” But he said, “What need is there? Let me find favor in the sight of my lord.” So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir. But Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built himself a house and made booths for his livestock. Therefore the name of the place is called Succoth. (Gen 33:14-17)
But in principle, God had won the battle with Jacob. And the victory was a permanent one, because Jacob would lean on God for the rest of his life. Jacob never went back to his old ways.
Limping Jacob had learned his lesson.
The wisdom of God had done its work.
One more example from Genesis, different again: that of Joseph. Young Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt where, traduced by Potiphar’s venomous wife, he was wrongly imprisoned, though afterwards he rose to eminence. For what purpose did God in his wisdom plan that? So far as Joseph personally was concerned, the answer is given in Psalm 105:19 (KJV): “the word of the LORD tried him.”
One more example that we can look at from Genesis is that of Joseph. The story of Joseph is quite different from that of Abraham or Jacob.
Young Joseph’s brothers sold him, and he became a slave in Egypt. There, he was wrongfully accused by the evil wife of Potiphar, and he was put into prison. Joseph went through much hardship, although in the end, he rose to a high position in the kingdom.
Why did God in His wisdom plan such a life for Joseph?
Answer 1: If you just consider the life of Joseph, the answer is that God was testing him and maturing him.
“Until the time his prediction came true, the word of the LORD tested him.” (Psalm 105:19)
Joseph was being tested, refined and matured; he was being taught during his spell as a slave, and in prison, to stay himself upon God, to remain cheerful and charitable in frustrating circumstances, and to wait patiently for the Lord. God uses sustained hardship to teach these lessons very frequently. So far as the life of God’s people was concerned, Joseph himself gave the answer to our question when he revealed his identity to his distracted brothers. “But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God” (Gen 45:7-8).
God was testing, refining, and maturing Joseph.
During the time he spent as a slave and during his time in prison, he learned—
– to lean on God,
– to remain cheerful and loving in frustrating circumstances, and
– to wait patiently for the Lord to act.
Very often, God uses long periods of hardship to teach these lessons.
Answer 2: If you consider the life of God’s people, then Joseph himself gave an excellent answer as to why God planned such a difficult life for him. He gave this answer when he revealed his identity to his terrified brothers.
“But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God” (Gen 45:7-8)
Joseph’s theology was as sound as his charity was deep. Once again, we are confronted with the wisdom of God ordering the events of a human life for a double purpose: the individual’s own personal sanctification, and the fulfilling of his appointed ministry and service in the life of the people of God. And in the life of Joseph, as in that of Abraham and of Jacob, we see that double purpose triumphantly fulfilled.
In these words, we can see that Joseph had a good grasp of theology. We can also see from his words that his love was deep.
Once again, we see how the wisdom of God ordered the events of a human life for a double purpose:
– the individual’s own personal sanctification, and
– the fulfilling of the individual’s God-appointed ministry and service in the life of the people of God.
And we see this double purpose triumphantly fulfilled in the lives of Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph.
Our Perplexing Trials
These things are written for our learning, for the same wisdom that ordered the paths which God’s saints trod in Bible times orders the Christian’s life today. We should not, therefore, be too taken aback when unexpected and upsetting and discouraging things happen to us now. What do they mean? Simply that God in his wisdom means to make something of us which we have not attained yet, and he is dealing with us accordingly.
These accounts about God’s people are written for our learning.
The same wisdom—that planned and guided God’s saints who walked in Bible times—guides the Christian’s life today. So we can learn much about God and His wisdom from the accounts that we read in the Bible—from accounts like those of Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, and many others.
So, when unexpected and upsetting and discouraging things happen to us, we should not be too surprised or shocked, because we know what those things mean.
And what do they mean?
Simply that God is at work in our lives, because in His wisdom, He wants to mature us. He wants to make us reach a level of maturity that we have not yet reached.
Perhaps he means to strengthen us in patience, good humor, compassion, humility or meekness, by giving us some extra practice in exercising these graces under especially difficult conditions. Perhaps he has new lessons in self-denial and self-distrust to teach us. Perhaps he wishes to break us of complacency, or unreality, or undetected forms of pride and conceit. Perhaps his purpose is simply to draw us closer to himself in conscious communion with him; for it is often the case, as all the saints know, that fellowship with the Father and the Son is most vivid and sweet, and Christian joy is greatest, when the cross is heaviest. (Remember Samuel Rutherford!) Or perhaps God is preparing us for forms of service of which at present we have no inkling.
Maybe God wants to strengthen qualities in our character like:
To do this, He may put us under difficult conditions, giving us some extra practice and developing and strengthening these beautiful qualities in our character.
Maybe He has new lessons to teach us—lessons to do with—
– not giving in to our self-centred desires and
– not putting our trust in our own abilities.
Maybe He wants to break us and humble us to keep us from—
– being smug and satisfied about our achievements
– having an unrealistic view of ourselves, and
– being proud and conceited in ways that are not so obvious.
Maybe God’s purpose is simply to draw us closer to Himself in such a way that we would be very aware of the Lord’s closeness.
All the saints know that their fellowship with the Father and the Son is most vivid and sweet, and Christian joy is greatest, when the cross is heaviest.
A good example of someone who experienced the Lord’s closeness very clearly is Samuel Rutherford (1600–61).
He was a godly Scottish Presbyterian pastor, theologian and author. He was known to wake up at 3 a.m. every morning and devote many hours to prayer and meditation. He even had a favorite place where he would often go to wrestle with God about spiritual truths. According to him, it was there that he “wrestled with the angel and prevailed.” He said that his witnesses were the woods, trees, meadows and hills.
Or maybe God is preparing us for some kind of service in the future about which we have no idea now.
Paul saw part of the reason for his own afflictions in the fact that God “comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Cor 1:4). Even the Lord Jesus “learned. . . obedience by the things which he suffered,” and so was “made perfect” for his high-priestly ministry of sympathy and help to his hard-pressed disciples (Heb 5:8-9 KJV): which means that, as on the one hand he is able to uphold us and make us more than conquerors in all our troubles and distresses, so on the other hand we must not be surprised if he calls us to follow in his steps, and to let ourselves be prepared for the service of others by painful experiences which are quite undeserved. “He knows the way he taketh,” even if for the moment we do not.
Paul realised that because he himself had experienced God’s comfort in suffering, he would be able to comfort others. So, Paul understood this to be part of the reason for his suffering.
who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Cor 1:4)
Even the Lord Jesus learned obedience by His sufferings. Those sufferings also equipped Him for His high-priestly ministry of sympathy and help to His disciples in their suffering.
Although He was a Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered. And being made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,(Heb 5:8-9)
Two points to note here:
– On the one hand, Jesus is able to support us and make us more than conquerors in all our troubles and distresses.
– On the other hand, we must not be surprised if He calls us to follow in His steps. Just like Him, we may be called to face painful experiences—undeserved painful experiences—in order to prepare ourselves to serve others.
“He knows the way He taketh,” says the hymn, and it is true. He knows the route, even if for the moment we do not, so we can safely walk with Him.
Wherever He may guide me,
No want shall turn me back;
My Shepherd is beside me,
And nothing can I lack:
His wisdom ever waketh,
His sight is never dim,
He knows the way He taketh,
And I will walk with Him.
We may be frankly bewildered at things that happen to us, but God knows exactly what he is doing, and what he is after, in his handling of our affairs. Always, and in everything, he is wise: we shall see that hereafter, even where we never saw it here. (Job in heaven knows the full reason why he was afflicted, though he never knew it in this life.) Meanwhile, we ought not to hesitate to trust his wisdom, even when he leaves us in the dark.
We may be very puzzled at the things that happen to us. We often do not have any idea as to why such things happen.
But God knows exactly what He is doing.
And He knows exactly what He wants to achieve by bringing these difficulties in our lives.
Always, and in everything, He is wise.
One day, we will understand these things, even though we do not understand them now.
Although he never knew it in this life, Job in heaven knows the full reason why he had to face so much suffering.
Everything will become clear when we get to heaven.
But for now, we should not to hesitate to trust His wisdom, even when He does not explain things to us.
But how are we to meet these baffling and trying situations, if we cannot for the moment see God’s purpose in them? First, by taking them as from God, and asking ourselves what reactions to them, and in them, the gospel of God requires of us, second, by seeking God’s face specifically about them.
But what is the right way to face these baffling and trying situations—when, for the moment, we cannot see God’s purpose in them?
– First, we need to understand that these difficult situations come to us from God, and so we must ask ourselves how God’s word would expect us to react.
– Second, we need to pray and seek God’s face, specifically about these situations.
If we do these two things, we shall never find ourselves wholly in the dark as to God’s purpose in our troubles. We shall always be able to see at least as much purpose in them as Paul was enabled to see in his thorn in the flesh (whatever it was). It came to him, he tells us, as a “messenger of Satan,” tempting him to hard thoughts of God. He resisted this temptation and sought Christ’s face three times, asking that it might be removed. The only answer he had was this, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” On reflection, he perceived a reason why he should have been thus afflicted: it was to keep him humble, “to keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations.” This thought, and Christ’s word, were enough for him. He looked no further. Here is his final attitude: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Cor 12:7-9).
If we do these two things, we will never be completely ignorant about what God’s purpose could be for our troubles.
We will always be able to see at least as much purpose in our troubles as Paul could see in his thorn in the flesh (whatever that was).
Paul tells us that the thorn came to him as a “messenger of Satan,” tempting him to think badly of God.
. . . a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.(2 Cor 12:7)
He resisted this temptation by seeking Christ’s face in prayer three times, asking that the thorn might be removed.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.(2 Cor 12:8)
But the only answer he got was that God’s grace was sufficient for Paul and that God’s power would be made perfect in Paul’s weakness.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” . . . (2 Cor 12:9)
Later, when he thought back about it, he understood that one reason for his suffering was to keep him humble.
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations . . .(2 Cor 12:7)
This thought—that the troubles served to keep him humble—and Christ’s words—My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness—were enough for Paul.
His final attitude was one of boasting in his weakness.
. . . Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.(2 Cor 12:9)
This attitude of Paul is a model for us. Whatever further purpose a Christian’s troubles may or may not have in equipping him for future service, they will always have at least that purpose which Paul’s thorn in the flesh had: They will have been sent us to make and keep us humble, and to give us a new opportunity of showing forth the power of Christ in our mortal lives. And do we ever need to know any more about them than that? Is not this enough in itself to convince us of the wisdom of God in them? Once Paul saw that his trouble was sent him to enable him to glorify Christ, he accepted it as wisely appointed and even rejoiced in it. God give us grace, in all our own troubles, to go and do likewise.
This attitude of Paul is a model for us.
Maybe God has sent troubles in our life to prepare us for future service. But whether this is the case or not, our troubles will always at least have this one purpose—the purpose that Paul’s thorn in the flesh had.
Our troubles will have been sent to us—
– to make us humble,
– to keep us humble, and
– to give us a new opportunity to display the power of Christ in our lives in this world.
What more can we possibly need to know about our own difficulties than that?
Is this not enough in itself to convince us of the wisdom of God in our troubles?
Once Paul saw that his trouble was sent to him to help him to glorify Christ, he accepted it as something that was appointed for him by the wisdom of God. Because of this, he was even able to rejoice in his trouble.
May God give us grace, in all our own troubles, to go and do the same.