Proverbs 4:7 King James Version (KJV) 7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore, get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
Some years ago, I served as a teacher in a private Christian school for 5th and 6th grade students. At the beginning of the year, I placed a large board in the front of the class with rules. The rules included such things as being respectful of one another, taking turns, raising your hand if you needed assistance, etc. When the principal of the school came in to visit my room before class began, he looked at my “rule board,” chuckled and said, “Ain’t nothin like an understanding!”
I’ve often reflected upon that moment and smiled. Getting an understanding is of utmost importance in life. Knowledge without understanding is futile. Understanding is gaining insight into a matter. Understanding can help you to cope, process through, accept, gain patience and perseverance. As a young woman this matter of understanding became very clear to me as I experienced changes in my mood at certain times of the month. I remember trying to figure out why I would all of a sudden feel sad when nothing was wrong. A bird would fly by and I’d feel like crying! One day I shared my experiences with a slightly older, young woman. She wisely told me to mark down on the calendar each time I felt that way and see if there was a pattern. Sure enough, I would experience feelings of sadness just before my monthly cycle started. Once I understood what was going on, it helped me to cope with the feelings better. I gained the understanding that I wasn’t “going crazy,” but rather, my mood was being impacted by hormones that were shifting and changing based upon my cycle.
The writer of Proverbs was urging his readers to couple wisdom…good judgement, knowledge…with understanding…insight. Understanding or insight can help us in a number of ways. Understanding helps us to better cope, to figure out ways to change where possible and to gain a greater perspective. Often “believers” wrestle with admitting, accepting and processing common realities facing us as humans. For some, admitting pain and struggle cannot live in the same space as trust and faith. Such musings are based upon faulty theology. Although we are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God, we are human and frail. We will experience pain; for “We hold this treasure in earthen vessels” (II Corinthians 4:7, KJV).
Whether it is pain in our body, mind or spirit, pain is real and should not be swept under the rug. For example, chronic physical pain due to any variety of illnesses can be daunting. Quite frankly, for some, it can be embarrassing. Personally, I have experienced this struggle as I face advanced osteoarthritis pain. It can be embarrassing when I have to take longer to stand up, walk slower and experience difficulty climbing stairs. This “new normal” can also be daunting and depressing. However, I have found that having conversations with my physician about options, looking at tests and images where I can see the origins and current triggers for my pain and learning how to alleviate my pain in healthy, consistent ways helps me to process, cope and change where possible. Coupling that knowledge and understanding with prayer and faith helps me to persevere. It also helps to know that I am not alone in this struggle.
Many are going through similar situations. It’s good to tell yourself, "It's not just me!" Gaining an understanding of your condition can help to shape your perspective in healthy and productive ways. Having the attitude to gain understanding of our mental, physical and spiritual health can help us gain some level of control over our individual responses. Before that can happen, we must be willing and open to facing our realities, learning what we can about our condition and prayerfully discerning the best course of action. Prayer, wise counsel and faith, coupled with action goes a long way towards healing.
Understanding is a POWERFUL tool in the hands of the believer. Seek God’s wisdom. Ask God for an understanding heart…insight to see beyond what is readily apparent…to see beyond what it looks like in the physical…to gain clarity about what things are and why things are…to make better decisions regarding every aspect of your life. Yes, there will be things that we will never understand on this side of the Jordan. But even that is “understanding” because you will learn by God’s grace to “accept the things that you cannot change, the courage to change the things that you can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Are you in pain? Take a deep dive into the process of gaining understanding. First spend time in prayer with the Lord, asking for guidance, help and strength. Prayerfully discern with whom you can share your struggle whether it be a physician, a counselor or therapist, a pastor or a friend. You are not alone. God is with you as well as a host of other human beings who are also in the struggle. With the help of the Lord, you can prevail!
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,