Do you ever wish life came with a tactical overlay? For those of us with glasses, it seems pretty straightforward: Directions would be superimposed on a heads-up display. People we meet would be bracketed with information about them, so we’d never have to remember a name. Dangers – like that deer on the side of the road, waiting to jump out in front of us – would be tagged and highlighted, protecting us from unpleasant surprises. Language translation could occur in real time, both showing us what signs in other countries are saying to us, and – if the algorithm was good enough – what everybody else is laughing about.
And, a tactical display isn’t totally out of the realm of possibility. In the movies, Iron Man has a pretty good tactical HUD (and J.A.R.V.I.S., which is a nice addition). Video games often come with target boxes and HP bars around opposing MOB’s. Even electronic maps superimpose points of interest for us.
Still, no matter how good the software, or how much big data is being processed for our benefit, there is sometimes no obvious answer to a problem: A friend confesses a serious act to us, which will have a harmful effect on others. We get bad news from the doctor. Traffic is backed up, and there’s no way to get to work on time without breaking some laws. Life hands us an apparently no-win situation.
In these cases, a decision must be based on more than just data. Pure facts will not solve these problems. Instead, we need wisdom. More than just intellectual knowledge, wisdom is often the key element required to make the right choice at the right time. Wisdom offers the ability to discern the difference between apparently-identical situations. It comes from the ability to see beyond the immediate, to the thoughts and motivations of those involved, as well as the probable outcome of our choices – both the obvious ones, and the implications that aren’t readily apparent.
The book of Proverbs in the Bible revolves around the idea of wisdom – both why it is valuable, and what it looks like (including many examples). Much of the proverbs were written by Solomon, whose God-given wisdom was unique throughout history.
God said to him, “Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you.
1 Kings 3:11-12 NASB
Years ago, a friend gave me a notepad, with each page emblazoned with the reminder, “Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want”. In the same way, wisdom can be gained the hard way: living through trials and challenges, and learning from the outcomes of countless decisions – both our own and of others.
Or, wisdom can be obtained for free, from One who has existed longer than any of us, and knows more than any of us. His wisdom supersedes that of any mortal man, and He sees beyond what can be known by people.
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!
Romans 11:33 NASB
And, this is pretty good news, indeed. No longer are we limited by our gut feeling on a tough decision, or just taking the majority opinion of our friends on a difficult choice. There is a source of answers that sees past the situation at hand, and looks beyond the current time.
However, while we may appreciate that God has wisdom, with His ability to see beyond time, space, and human limitations, He makes an unparalleled offer: He is giving this wisdom away!
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
James 1:5 NASB
When I’m faced with one of life’s apparent “no-win” situations, I can make decisions from my own limited knowledge (whether choosing the “lesser of two evils”, or just making a guess). Or, I can ask for God’s wisdom to make the best choice – not just for that moment, but aligned for His plan for my life. My life – and that of any other human who faces with choices like these – testifies that God’s way is always the best way.
For more on the subject of wisdom, see also Luke 7:35, Luke 2:52, Psalm 119:10, James 3:17. Or, you can do what I do, and exercise the offer extended in James 1, asking for wisdom from God often. Or, do both!
In any case, seek that information that you can’t get from a HUD or Google, and be wise.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.