By The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith
Today’s reading from Job begins with a poem about the mysterious nature of wisdom. Many have suggested that these verses contain some of the most beautiful poetry in all of Hebrew Scripture. Here the poet ponders the origin of wisdom. If everything has a source where does wisdom come from? It can’t be purchased or forged from the earth. Human beings often lack it. Only God knows wisdom’s source and therefore only God is really wise. Job suffers for reasons he cannot understand. The wisdom of suffering eludes him. It is beyond his comprehension.
Like Job, the author of Psalm 5 cries out to God to hear him and protect him from his enemies. The psalmist may be surrounded by evil but he knows that God is just and in the end evil will not be allowed to stand. Therefore both Job and the psalmist trust God, praise God, and live in fear and awe of God, seeking always to do God’s will. Only then can they live wisely.
The Christian community in Galatia had heard about Paul’s former life as a Pharisee. Paul was infamous as a man who had reached the pinnacle of Jewish society, both in education and position, and then left all that behind to spend his life proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. For many of Paul’s contemporaries this must have seemed like a foolish, crazy decision. But Paul knew that God’s wisdom was different from the world’s wisdom. It wasn’t crazy to give up everything to follow Christ, for Paul it was the only wise thing he could do once he had been called by God and set apart. Like Job and the psalmist, Paul knew that only by remaining true to God’s will for his life could he find any wisdom, any peace, any purpose.
As you think about your own life, have you been able to find peace during those times when life does not make sense? Looking back, can you see how God’s grace was present to you even when life was most confusing?
Can you think of other figures in the Bible who did things deemed foolish by the world’s standards and yet were wise in the ways of God?
God of all wisdom, grant me the faith to cling to you most tightly when my life makes least sense. Help me to see your grace in all things that trusting in your wisdom I might dare to be a fool for Christ. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith is the rector of St. James’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia.