Wisdom in unexpected places…

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Job 11:1 Then Zophar the Naamathite answered: 2 “Should a multitude of words go unanswered, and should one full of talk be vindicated? 3 Should your babble put others to silence, and when you mock, shall no one shame you? 4 For you say, ‘My conduct is pure, and I am clean in God’s sight.’ 5 But O that God would speak, and open his lips to you, 6 and that he would tell you the secrets of wisdom! For wisdom is many-sided. Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves.

If you know the story of Job you know that was he blameless before God and yet endured terrible pain and hardship. In chapter 10 Job went on at length complaining to God about his suffering. His three friends listening to him weren’t buying it. They were sure that Job must have done something to deserve the pain and loss. Here in chapter 11 his friend Zophar speaks up. I’m particularly drawn to v.3-6 above and the phrase “For wisdom is many-sided.” In other words, were they to hear from God he would paint a very different picture than Job has done.

Even apart from the story of Job there is wisdom here. I used to think wisdom was cut and dried. Black and white. And of course I believed my views on things to be wise in most cases. However, as I’ve grown older I’ve had a change of heart. Sure, wisdom sounds obvious when you’re only hearing one side of it. This is what’s happening in the broader culture today. Many of us live in echo chambers in which the only voices we engage are those with whom we agree – politically, theologically, whatever.

I’m not very good at it yet, but I’m making more of an effort to really listen to people with whom I disagree. I am trying to understand where they’re coming from rather than forming an argument for rebuttal. It makes for rich conversation because, frankly, most of us aren’t used to being genuinely listened to.  And the more I listen the more I find that, indeed, “wisdom is many-sided”.

Lord help me get over myself and seek wisdom in unexpected places. Help me to listen more and talk less. You know that’s not easy for me, but with you all things are possible. Amen.

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