I’ve been stuck for some time. There’s a certain person I’ve known most of my life who is very difficult to get along with. Our personalities clash, and our tastes diverge on just about everything. He doesn’t know Christ yet; thus, he doesn’t understand most of the life choices I’ve made. I’ve often felt personally attacked by his comments and attitudes.
I want this person to meet Christ and find life, but when we converse I end up feeling like I’m about 8 years old again and helpless to change things. After I got married, my wife helped me to see that all hope was not lost; God had provided many opportunities to build a healthier relationship. My self-protective fear had prevented me from seeing these opportunities, and the fear of the Lord would give me the wisdom to make changes. Only after I stopped worrying about protecting myself and started seeking to represent Christ, did I have hope that the relationship could get better. I have a long way to go, but I want to do whatever it takes to travel this path one step at a time.
Proverbs 4 explains the vital connection between wisdom and hope. If we don’t fear the Lord, we won’t be open to change. If we’re not open to change, we won’t change. If we don’t change, we’ll fail as agents of redemption to those around us. We won’t inspire them with hope that they can change. Then—guess what?—nothing ever changes.
Are You Stuck?
Are you stuck? Stuck in a bad habit, a bad relationship, or a bad situation? Has your life failed to meet your expectations? Are you always too busy? Do the years keep flying by, yet without moving beyond the “same old, same old”?
For example, have you committed sexual immorality in the past? Will you ever be able to forget the memories or mental images? Can the damage done to yourself and others ever be undone? The fear of the Lord can give hope.
Are you married to an angry, hurtful person? Is your relationship caught in the endless cycle of attack-remorse-apology without any lasting change? How could you ever forgive? Can you get more help? The fear of the Lord can give hope.
Were your parents critical of your every move? Did they care at all? As you grew up, did they miss all your major milestones? Did they abuse you verbally, physically, emotionally, or sexually? How could you possibly trust another person again? The fear of the Lord can give hope.
Have your grown children rejected the Lord? Have you tried to win them back by every available means? Might you have been part of the problem, pushing them away with ungracious legalism, unrealistic expectations, harsh judgments, or emotional neediness? Can they ever return to the Lord or to a healthy relationship with you? The fear of the Lord can give hope.
I’m not saying that the answers to these questions are easy. I’m not saying that wisdom will eliminate your pain and disappointment. But what I am saying is that there’s hope. One of our own poets, speaking of that hope which rises from fearing the Lord, said:
Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man never Is but always To be blest.
There’s always hope. Real hope that it can change. Just do nothing, and it will certainly get worse. But fear the Lord, and it just might get better.
Proverbs 4:1-27 has three distinct units, each beginning with an address to one or more “sons.” The theme of “life” links the sections together. Solomon’s advice goes like this: First, do whatever it takes to get wisdom, and you’ll find life (Prov 4:1-9). Second, contrast the two roads before you to see which one leads to the life (Prov 4:10-19). Third, let the life become a part of who you are, and it will change everything you do (Prov 4:20-27). In other words, because God makes his life available in Jesus Christ, those who turn to him have hope that anything can change.