Living with uncertainty is something that we are getting used to, and it doesn’t make for ease for those who like to have things organised and neat in life. There is ever that nagging doubt about our current situation, not only the consequences of release from lockdown, largely out of our hands, but the constant questioning of how the country is going about it. Where lies the wisdom? Where lies the correct path?
The Book of Job at Evening Prayer reached chapter 28 last night, and what is considered to be a poetic interlude between all the reasoning of Job and his companions and Job’ conclusion, or final speech, as he weighs everything up. This interlude is all about wisdom. In verse 12 we read:
But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?
There is a great deal in this chapter outlining the achievements of humanity; the industry that has produced metals from the earth and precious jewels, and everything that can be made and purchased is amazing. However, the essence of this really quite beautiful passage of Scripture is that no matter what humanity can do; no matter what the searching for perfection may produce; no matter if even mountains are overturned and great channels dug in the rocks, diverting rivers, or mining the earth for its minerals, the wisdom of God is beyond us.
The chapter ends loosely with the connection of wisdom with God in Creation. St John took up this idea in his Gospel’s opening verses: “In the beginning was the Word”. We believe that this was a Greek concept of the divine taken into a Hebrew and later Christian understanding of God’s nature.
For the Book of Job the chapter forms a transition and pause, as the underlying thought - or foundational principle - of all created things settles the minds of Job’s readers with the thought that intellectual speculation about God does not lead us into wisdom, rather it is simple acceptance and observation of God’s ways that brings us peace of mind and heart, such as the psalmist wrote in Psalm 131 (verses 2 and 3):
“I do not occupy myself with great matters, or with things that are too hard for me, but I still my soul and make it quiet, like a child upon its mother’s breast, my soul is quieted within me.”