My husband almost died two weeks and one day ago. From choking on an oyster cracker. I came home that day and found Seth sitting in his favorite brown leather desk chair. A sight I'm used to and one that I like. He would turn around and smile and say hi. He turned, but instead of a smile and a hello, said I'd never guess what happened to him that day. When he told me, I told him what I tell my one-year-old boy that I babysit, "Chew, baby. Chew." But that was after I knelt beside my husband and cried with my arms around his neck.
As I held onto him, I thought of what I would do if I lost him. How empty and unsafe I would feel. Empty. How my life isn't meant to be lived without him. It wouldn't be right. It doesn't make sense. And how could God let that happen? How it all seems up to chance. That God isn't in control. If he was how could Seth have almost died? Where was God's protection? It's all pandemonium. God leaves us all to chance, and a faulty bite at dinner could strip my best friend in the world from me. Thirty more seconds, and he could have been gone from my life in an instant.
And I suppose you think, but he didn't die. Right. He didn't. And maybe you're also thinking, God WAS protecting him. He didn't die. And you'd be right. You are right. And thankfully within a reasonable time, I began to have those thoughts, too.
But what if he had died? People die every day. Seth will die one day. Maybe even before me. Maybe I'll have time to prepare. Maybe it will happen when I least expect it. No matter what, it will feel like the end of my world. It will feel empty. It will feel unsafe. And what will I think then? Will I think it all chance and that God had turned away from me?
We sang at Redeemer Presbyterian here in New York this past Sunday: "Give Me Jesus," which Seth adapted from the well-known spiritual and added his own verses and bridge. I think they liked it, but I remember the sermon that Tim Keller preached. He preached from a passage in Job, about the fear of God amidst despair. That when despair enters our lives, what we really need more than anything, what Job realized he needed, the only answer to it all, is wisdom. And wisdom comes from the fear of God. Those who have not the fear of God have not wisdom. They are fools.
He described the fear of God, as not so much a scary fear, like the fear of an intruder, or the fear of what any bad person or person with bad intentions might do to me. The fear of God is believing in the purest good, even when that good allows for bad. This is wisdom: Realizing that yes, the world at times works the way it should. Hard work equals reward. Following God equals blessing. Following the rules equals fair. BUT the world is fallen. And alot of the times it doesn't work the way it should. Hard work ends in suffering. Following God ends in despair. And nothing is fair. Wisdom is knowing in these times, that we serve a God, who, actually, (yes), allows all around us to be black and dismal, allows the bad to enter our lives, does NOT prevent it, and at the same time, not only has control of our lives, but loves us more than we can imagine...as we struggle through the darkness and hurt through the despair and beat our fists demanding justice. Amidst the darkest despair, TRUSTING and BELIEVING in that all-powerful goodness, in that love, and ultimately in the justness of it all. That is fearing God. That is wisdom.
Will I have learned wisdom when that time of despair comes? Will I forget that this world is fallen, that it doesn't follow the everlasting law of God? That it yearns for restoration? That it will be restored. Will I be a fool?
Job 28:12: "But where can wisdom be found...?"
Job 28:28: And he said to man,
'The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,..."