Information vs. Wisdom and the Book of Proverbs

"We are drowning in information while starving for wisdom"
I passed that sign one day this summer and have not been able to stop thinking about it. We have more information more technology and greater connectivity than ever yet we are more lonely, divided and indecisive than ever.

This project wall has become a recent favorite. Yet I look at all these books, not quite the collection Belle got in Beauty in the Beast (oh Disney how you tease - only in fairytales), and wonder what good has all this information been in my life.  These pages have mentored, shaped, guided, inspired, and challenged me. But it's not in the information and the words on the pages alone that changes you, it's what is done with them. The difference of information and wisdom.

Once a year I like to spend 31 days in the 31 chapters of Proverbs. This year in May a group of ladies did this together and talked through the chapters each week. Most weeks we felt pretty beat up, seeing ourselves in the foolish unrighteous one, being exposed to the ugliness of our sin and shortcomings and walking away from 7 chapters each week feeling... well "whoof" was our usual sentiment.

There is a danger to take these wise sayings of Solomon as simply moralistic teaching - live this way and it well go well for you - as qualifying efforts for the Gospel. The lessons and characteristics in Proverbs ultimately point to Jesus as the wisest man, the Son perfectly attuned to the Father, the true husband, the faithful son, the true and loyal friend,  the perfect worker, the good steward who knew how to handle wealth, and the man who followed God’s plans.  This is not a book of virtues but of redemption in Jesus. He redeems our morals and character to His likeness when we abide, when we live out the wisdom of God and not the wisdom of the day.  

Proverbs 1:20-22 says wisdom is calling out:
"Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:" How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?"
Wisdom is crying out in the everyday place of life -  in the hustle and bustle of the noisy streets, in the markets, and at the city gates. What do you envision? An old wise woman? Gandolf? Walking around crying out for their attention, to be listened to. Why? Because much calls for our attention, drowning truth and wisdom out if we aren't attuned and listening for it, to it. And lesser things can disguise themselves as the good eternal things.
There are two voices compared in parts of Proverbs. Lady Folly and Lady Wisdom. They both call out to be heard. They cry out saying the same thing in Proverbs 9:4,16 "Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!" Who will you listen to, follow, and how will you discern if the voice is wisdom or the voice of folly?
Where is Wisdom found?
  • The very Word of God, The bible is God's revelation to us, His wisdom, counsel, way for life. Psalm 19 says His word is perfect, reviving the soul; sure, making wise the simple; right rejoicing the heart; and pure, enlightening the eyes.

  • The Spirit of God reveals, searches, illuminates, gives understanding, instructs and gives Christians the very mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:6-16)

  • Those living ahead of us and have gone before us. Those saints of old who have scribed their life lessons with pen and paper - read their pages. The people around you, seasons ahead of you with grey hairs and lines on their faces marking the years of their lives and the lessons learned - seek them out.

  • Suffering - frees you, detaches your hold on temporary things,  teaches you what matters, gives birth to eternal perspective and new values. Don't let suffering slip through your days without letting it refine and grow you in wisdom.

"Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12

In Proverbs 8 wisdom is there again, calling out, in the coming and going places of our day.
  • At the "height beside the way" -  along your way, above your steps - wisdom is there.
  • At the "crossroads she takes her stand"  - where choices are made between two things, two ways: this or that, here or there - wisdom is there.
  • "Beside the gates" - where cultural decisions are made, in your leadership, in your influence - wisdom is there.
  • At the "entrance of the portals" - in your coming and going, when you are changing places, choosing the places you’ll go to - wisdom is there.

The steps we take, the decisions we make, the people we encounter, all need to be covered by His grace and wisdom, not by mere information.

We are overloaded with information coming at us in every direction and every media avenue. Information may "inform" you what you "should" be getting, what you should demand for, what you are entitled to, who you should vote for. But that information alone is not leading us to actually consider and think through the implications, how those things work themselves out, it does not think long term, does not look within ourselves but points out to say you can do all and be all with facts. Wisdom however sees through the "data" that disguises itself as power and wants to humble teach as we go about our way through life.

"There is a difference between healthy learning and information gluttony: one is about being fully human, and the other is about craving limitlessness...unmeasured consumption of information brings us not increased peace of mind, as we had hoped, but increased dissonance...information overload ... affects our cognition, and thereby our productivity, shortening our attention spans and diminishing our ability to concentrate...paralysis by analysis... God help us if the church succumbs to inaction and indifference in the face of human suffering." Jen Wilkin

“The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness to the flesh.” Ecclesiastes 12:12

I just finished another semester of seminary and already deep into the next and goodness do I feel those words, that often much study is weariness to the flesh when not applied and engaged to the heart for transformation of heart, mind and will.

Information says this should be your opinion and make sure everyone knows.
Wisdom leads you to think, consider, evaluate your opinion but also how you share that opinion with others.  
Information and data say "werk werk werk werk werk" (or maybe that's Rhianna), work more for more success.
Wisdom says rest and your work will be more fruitful. Rest from your work and striving, and then work out of an overflow of your rest.
Information says do more, learn more, be more - for your own personal success
Wisdom says, say no so you can say yes to what matters most, do less and give more to meaningful places -  for the sake of healthy relationships because people matter.
Information says the cross killed a man.
But wisdom says that which was meant to kill brought victory.

Proverbs says to seek out, take hold, do not let go of and guard the wisdom of God for it is life. What are some practical ways to lessen the information binge and sink deeply into truthful wisdom?

  • Choose a few wisely - choose less to listen to/read and dive into those well.

Years ago I found myself trying to read 4 books at once, listening to 6 podcast and reading every blog post I came across. I could not keep track of all I was listening to and reading nor my own thoughts. This also led me to live second handly through others. I wanted first-hand relationship with the Lord and to soak in well, little, rather than not really retain and engage from overload. When choosing ask such questions that Jen Wilkin’s poses:

Will the time and attention I give this made me more like Christ? Will it make me better able to serve God and serve others? Am I feeding my intellect in a way that enables me to love the Lord my God with all my mind, or in a way that causes information overload? Does what I'm learning cause me to worship myself, or cause me to marvel at "the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge" (Job 37:16)?

  • Discuss with others - Share what you are listening to, reading, your thoughts, criticisms, spur each other on and challenge each other, challenge the norm, the values of culture.

  • Choose your Bible - it is not merely information but "alive and active' (Heb. 4:12). God's Words are identical to His actions. When He speaks He does. His words and actions are one in the same. Consider Psalm 119  to read King David’s love letter to the very Word of God - oh that we would value, cherish, and live by His words.

I need to be in the Word because with all that I know (or think I know) I need to be reminder of Who is actually all-knowing, all-powerful, ever present, in control and sovereign and stop thinking it's up to me to make all the things happen. Abiding in His pages are full of reminders that He is all these things and more. To quite trying muster up all of my own efforts, knowledge, experience and find true wisdom power and life in the One who wrote life itself.

For He “is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:6), “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17), “in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28), “for from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36)!

When the garden of your life is planted in the soil of God's wisdom, you can't help but produce good fruit.

Clear waters. Clear heart and mind. And how idleness clouds.

In the backyard of my old home I had this beautiful waterfall pond. The water pulls from this small size pool that then pours down from the waterfall back into the pool, recycling the water through and through. I loved sitting outside reading while water is pouring down, a little escape like I’m sitting at the base of a magnificent waterfalls at Yosemite. But it takes work for this waterfall to function properly and to it’s fullest potential. The pool water itself needs to be cared for with chemicals to keep it clean, skimmed of leaves and others objects that drop in the water and have to clean out the filters. This water also needs to be frequently stirred up to mix the chemicals and have circulation within the water which means running the waterfall at least for an hour once a day. Sometimes I neglect to do these things and the effect varies on the duration of neglect. When it’s been cold, rainy, windy, and gloomy I did not have the motivation to go do the work because I wouldn’t be sitting out there enjoying the waterfall. I would glance through the window once in awhile checking on the condition of the pool water as I know I had been neglecting it. At one point it had been over a month since I had done any of these things when I usually did them weekly. I could see the water getting dirtier, greener and darker. I finally went out there to take a closer look at it and saw what I was afraid of, I would have to do great work to get it clean and running once again. The pool walls itself were thick with algae because I failed to pour in the proper chemicals, the bottom filled with dirt and leaves because I failed to remove that which dropped in it. I had thick stagnant water and clogged filters, unable to flow the water through the pumps to pour the once clean and clear water beautifully down the waterfall to be enjoyed. What could be beautiful flowing waterfall was then a stagnant dirty and clouded pool of gross water. 

When I stared into this cloudy pool of water I realized how cloudy by heart, mind and perspective had become because I was neglecting time in the Word. When I am overwhelmed with an exhausted mind I can choose idleness of heart and mind rather than that which will pour life into me, being in the Word. When idleness creeps in my perspective gets clouded because of failing to pour into my heart and soul that which breathes life and fail to often see what things are dropping in my mind that I need to remove. Allowing things of the world to drop in my life when not being saturated in truth begins a slow subtle drift like algae slowly covering the walls of my heart and mind no longer allowing me to see life clearly. Discouragement, anxiousness and doubt creeps in my cloudy vision. When I grow weary and despondent I get more focused on entitlement rather than calling. My perspective turns narrowly inward focus and I no longer am flowing with life to give to others. Eternal perspective is anchoring for me and when I lose sight of that I’m prone to be discouraged and give up rather than persevere. I need the Holy Spirit overlooking the water of my soul reminding me and empowering me to do the work to clean it out again by letting the Word pour into me so I can be a life giving flowing fountain.

if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
And the LORD will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.
And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.

Isaiah 58:10-12 ESV

When We Take On Too Much and Do Too Little

"God won't give me more than I can handle"... "Oh yes He will."

I remember when this phrase naively came off my lips years ago talking to my senior pastor early in my college years about recent events and he forever changed those words and helped me unlearn a misunderstanding about God.

This seems to be a phrase passed around to tell each other "you can do it, you can make it through this – you are strong.” You. You. You. (Or we just say it because it’s been said to us.)

We are limited finite people and when we get ensnared in the enemy’s falsehood that we are self-sufficient, self-sustaining we live as if we in ourselves are all we need and do what we want to do. This autonomous mentality robs us of knowing the Sufficient One and His intended way of life. Our self-sustaining efforts hinder us from truly breathing life with gratitude and acknowledgment for the One who sustains us. Our heart is deceiving, not trustworthy (Jeremiah 17:9) and bent towards selfish ways that will not bring good, rather harm to ourselves and others. When we are given over to our own ways and thinking we tend to make a mess of things and not make them better (Romans 1:21-32) although the world tells you otherwise.  

The very thing or circumstance that makes you feel weak and inadequate is a strengthening tool in God’s hand to grow your dependence on Him who has the power to make dead things alive. His power in our shortcomings strengthens our faith and fuels our hope for perseverance and obedience. Paul got it in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 in which he ends with “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” We are to be a people relying on Him, not on ourselves (2 Corinthians 1:9-10). When we believe, look to, and place all that we are on the One who has the power to make dead things live the result is we are filled “with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

Have you ever been paralyzed by fear or uncertainty? Are you anxious and overwhelmed with circumstances or worries? These concerns of life are inclined to consume and freeze our steps, actions, and decisions. The enemy loves seeing followers of Jesus inactive and immobilized because of taking on concerns beyond what we are intended to in contrast to living out faithful biblical discipleship. I love these words of the David in Psalm 131 because I have a tendency to concern my heart and mind with things that are beyond my control.

"O Lord, my heart is not lifted up proud; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever more." Psalm 131

Which leads to the questioning of who is to handle what in our lives – what is my role and what is God’s? What’s my responsibility and what is God’s? In his book, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, Paul Tripp helps discern the difference by identify between our concerns and our responsibilities.  We have CONCERNS that are out of our control that we are to ENTRUST to God. We also have RESPONSIBILTIES that God has given and asked of us that we need to FAITHFULLY OBEY. But we often confuse one for the other. This leads to taking on what we are to entrust, exhausting ourselves with effort, concern, worry feeling discouraged. We then are likely to neglect the very things He has asked us to be obedient in, unfaithful to our calling as His disciples.

Because we are inclined to be controlling fixers and want to give the responsibility God has given to us back to Him, we end up taking on too much and doing too little. When I have much on mind – things I’m worried about, nervous and anxious about and uncertain how to move forward – my heart and mind get overwhelmed. I have found this helpful to walk through to help discern what concerns to entrust and what my responsibilities to faithfully obey are. Trust and obey Jesus.

Start by asking the Lord to examine your heart to expose what things you are holding onto for control (concern) that you need to hand over to Him (entrust). And what things you are called to be and do (responsibility) that you need to pursue, take action on, make a decision (faithfully obey).

Then use whatever way you process best to identify them. I am visual, love writing to process and love making lists. So I write out all that’s on my heart and mind that the Lord has helped me identify. If you are a verbal processor, talk through them with someone. From what you’ve been able to identify which concerns verse responsibilities?

Once you’ve identified those, pray through them and ask the Lord to help you hand over and entrust to Him the issues you need to and ask Him to help you faithfully act upon what you need to.

"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

We are an anxious people. The things we are anxious about often reveal the idols of our hearts - what we're terrified of losing or desperately trying to get. Both which are out of our control. Glance at your heart. Gaze at Jesus. Trust and obey the Lord.

When their lives look better

"Why?...I don't get it." These are words I often hear in question as I look into tear filled eyes, muttered when I listen to that hurting voice over the phone. And I often don't have words, but I have the Word. 

Have you ever looked at someone's life and compared it to what yours looks like? Envied theirs? Been jealous or felt forsaken? We can always question the "why" to seasons and circumstances of life. 
Why me? 
Why doesn't my life/story look like theirs? 
Why this load for me carry in life?

Perspective will make or break you. It will strengthen your perseverance and without it you will have fleeting allegiance. 

"Your steadfast love is better than life." Psalm 63:3
Better Than Life.

Better than the devastations and disappointments.
Better than the most fulfilling things and moments.
Better than any relationship.
Better than any dream home or job.
Better than any high or any low. 
Better than life.

I've learned that perspective, right perspective is anchoring to endure. A few specific things have helped shape my sight, to keep it on eternity no matter what crosses my path: Psalm 73 and "Heaven" by Randy Alcorn (consider a summer read of these two).

I appreciate the rawness of Asaph in Psalm 73 that I think we can so relate to:

He was despairing and envious of the wicked’s fortune. Those not seeking God seemed to have it all - wealth, abundance, care free lives, reason to boast, overindulging in whatever they wanted with no awareness of God and at no consequence (v.2-12) - so it seemed. It seemed he was missing out and forsaking these things for a worthless time and a God who was not "blessing" him in the same way. He wondered "what am I doing and what is this all for? Is this God even worth it?" (v.13). He felt hopeless, despondent, and condemned for longing for the things of the world that the wicked seemed to all gloat in and enjoy. He felt ashamed and guilty for even thinking it that he couldn't voice it (v.14-15). Sound familiar? He observed the "wicked" and was exhausted trying to answer “why them” and “why not me?”(v.16). “Until”...this is the game changer,,,

"Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end." Psalm 73:17

Did you catch it? "Until..." what? Not until he entered the presence of God did he see himself and the world clearly. The sanctuary represented standing in God's presence, holiness, character, spirit and power. I think it was here he was able to set his sights "on things above" and flourish from eternal perspective. He made the Lord His refuge when the world said look elsewhere (v.28).

When you're losing sight, where do you go? To whom do you look to? Fleeting world pleasures or faithful covenant keeping God? 

As I set my gaze on Him, I know Him more. When I grow in sight and view of the unchangeable, unconquerable, immovable, irremovable, untiring, unflinching, unwavering love of God I waver less because my gaze is on the Unwavering one. When looking at the worlds’ ways, Asaph’s (our) sight shifted to a god that seemed to have forsaken him and was holding out, until he fixed his gaze on God did he get it - his end and theirs. 

“Whom have I in heaven but you? There is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.” 
Psalm 73:25

The Lord's considered every possible "what if" in your life, even beyond what we’ve questioned and chooses what will make us more like Him; what will cause us and others to know and magnify Him. That is to be our joy. 

Asaph began desolate, angry and despising the wicked…yet left the sanctuary in worship after gazing at the Lord, longing to “tell of all your works” (v.28). When you are despairing or tempted to give up or give in – look up. What will be your “sanctuary” place to regularly keep perspective? Find those places – gathering to worship with others, being in the Word, a quiet space away in nature, being in community, or an old place that takes you back to your First Love. Find it and be there regularly to the places that raise your sights. 

As we grow and deepen in eternal perspective our envy and jealousy will begin to weaken when looking at those that have things we desire, when we feel we are more “deserving”. Rather we grow in compassion and a yearning to love them with the Gospel and hope of Jesus because whatever you are seeing in their life that raises discontentment in you – is all they have without Jesus. That’s it and an eternity of suffering. Grow in love and compassion towards them to bring light into the dark places of the Deceivers empty lies they are sinking into unless you show them the Hope and purpose in Christ that is faithful and eternal.

“My flesh and my heart my fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

In light of eternity, in light of His glory, He allows and do I dare even say specifically purposes in our lives to bear such things so we could offer the comfort we’ve received (2 Corinthians 1:3-6), that we would grow in dependence on Him, find Him greater than anything, and know His grace as sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:8-10). He is worthy. He is worth it. An eternity with Jesus - full restoration and peace realized is worth it.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

"Look for yourself and you will find loneliness and despair. But look for Christ and you will find Him and everything else." C.S. Lewis

Posture of Prayer

Years ago a friend and I went through a Bible study together that challenged you to spend time in prayer on your knees with your face to the ground. Going over the study one week this friend asked me if I had prayed as the study encouraged us to, in that posture. I said I hadn't (like it was something not necessary, my stubbornness at its finest). Her face lit up as she simply said I have, "there's something about that posture". 

The stiffness of my stubborn heart and knees were softened from an overwhelming season in life and I can say from submitting my knees to the ground that there is something about that posture. I would love to say I have spent time on my knees every day since, but I have to battle my will of self-reliance by choosing to humbly place my dependence on Him - praying on my knees can do just that. Lowering myself yielded before the King places my heart in the same posture. 

"The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth." Psalm 145:18

You'll find prayers in the Bible with different circumstances, content, request, results, and yes postures. 

The calling upon the name of God to summon His aid. Intercessory prayer, on behalf of someone else. To ask, request, beg, seeking by an inferior from a superior, request for something to be given.

It may be uncomfortable, unfamiliar and a bit awkward for you to interact with the Lord in a way that may be new or neglected, enter in anyways. May our knees show the wear of our desperation for Him. 

Consider your prayer life, position and posture from Colossians 3:1-3.

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." Colossians 3:1-3

I died
My life is now hidden with Christ in God
I am raised with Christ
Christ is seated at the right hand of God
My mind is to be on things above

The right hand position of a king has his ear. Close nearness. The king leans in to listen. Jesus is at God's right hand, with His ear in attention to his intercession. I am hidden with Christ. He intercedes for me. I have the ear of the King. What am I doing with that? Consider your prayer time. What is the content and focus of that time? Self or making much of Christ and God’s will?

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14

Look with me at just a few of these postures from studying different prayers, circumstances, request, response, and posture:

Jacob wrestled with God, endured, and clung to Him asking for a blessing until he received it (Genesis 32:24-30). 

Hannah poured out her heart to God as a drink offering on her knees, silently praying her earnest desires (1 Samuel 1:10-20). 

David sat down before the Lord with such intimacy, humility, and gentle reverence (2 Samuel 7:18-29). 

Hezekiah spreads the very pages of a letter he receives from a threatening king before the Lord. He acknowledges the Lord's majesty, power, personal care, attention to His people, and asks Him for deliverance (2 Kings 19:14-19). 

Jehoshaphat led the people to seek the Lord corporately in prayer and fasting when a vast army was coming to attack. You see his posture in v.18 bowed down with his face to the ground in response (2 Chronicles 20:3-30). 

Manasseh's imprisonment broke him that he "humbled himself greatly before God" (v.12) that his prayer moved God even after the evil he had done and delivered him and this changed his life (2 Chronicles 33).

Ezra's concern for the people broke his heart when he saw sin. He fell before the Lord after sitting in despair over sin (tore his clothes and pulled his hair). He sat appalled. He fell on his knees with his hands spreads out the Lord and prayed - this convicted and captured hearts to turn from their sin. Then he approached the people. He repented for past and present sins with no excuse (Ezra 9-10).

Nehemiah mourned, fasted, wept, and prayed for the condition of the people and Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1). As he later worked on restoring the wall in midst of threats and discouragement, he prayed, sought the Lord, and posted a guard. Prayer and planning - faith with request, action, and perseverance (Nehemiah 4:4)

Habakkuk prays for the praise of God, the power of God, and for the purpose of God, because of his faith in God (Habakkuk 3).

Jesus uses a parable of a Pharisee and a Tax Collector both stood praying before God, one boasting of his "righteousness" and the other stood far off not even able to look up, broken, acknowledging his need for forgiveness. Both men stood with very different postures of heart (Luke 18:9-14). 

Jesus often removed Himself to pray to the Father (Matthew 14:23; Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12; 22:41) and He spent time in desperation on His knees submitting Himself to the Father (Matthew 26:39).

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

Ask is a request with faith. 
Seek is an action with faith. 
Knock is perseverance with follow through in faith.

"The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray." 1 Peter 4:7

"As we touch a little of His will and thought we come to understand a little more of how He works and what He requires of us. So that gradually the will and thought of God which we have known and entered into becomes in us our prayer." Watchman Nee 

Can I be of help?

In all of creation that was said to be good in Genesis 1, there was one thing that was not.

"It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Genesis 2:18

Being a helpmate, a submitting, selfless, serving, hardworking, supporting, faithful wife is highly esteemed and often looked to in Proverbs 31 as THE women to be. There are so many definitions, thoughts, and identities behind the idea of being a helper to a husband.  God created and designed men to be cultivators and women helpers. Not limited to, less than, above or below, but different, complimenting each other.  By God’s design we desire to live out those roles. 

So what if I'm not married?  And is that “helper” role only for the context of marriage?

For many Christian women, a prolonged season of singleness or any longing unfulfilled becomes a holding place, while waiting for a desire to be a reality. It can feel unfair if there is a desire/design from God to be that helper yet He has not given you the season of marriage to live that out. But it can be in the context of your life now, for those around you and not something on hold, passively waiting as time and lives pass you by.   

A helper. The Helper. Both come alongside, rescue, offer aid, guide, support, strength, and protect to help others thrive. 

In Genesis 2:18 we read that something was not good and missing, and a suitable helper to Adam is what God designs to fill that which was lacking. A helper - to surround, protect or aid, help, one who fights alongside, ally, act as part of a greater whole, offer support, strength and power. The word for helper, ezer, is used 21 times in OT - two times in reference to the first woman, a suitable helper and the majority use is in reference to God as our helper in a time of great need and protection. This word alone indicates the one giving the help is superior to the one receiving the help. But in the case of Genesis 2, God is intentional with words in the use of a suitable helper/help meet – ezer kenegdo - adds that of equal, rather than superior. One who is the same in value as the other and who surrounds, protects, aids, helps, supports.

Ezer describes aspects of God's character - He is our strength, our rescuer, our protector and our help. We tend to focus on the role of a helper as a wife and I think we often can use a shift of our focus to what that word says about the Lord as our helper and how we are to live that out fully in every aspect of life. 

Don’t miss the here and now of your days by being in a holding place, waiting, hoping. When you look back at these days in your life, what do you want to see, what would have wanted to do with that time? Make that a reality. Don't waste right where God has you no matter the season. Our time is short, but a breath (Job 12:10; Psalm 39:5; 144:4; Eph 5:15-16). Have eyes to see, a heart willing and hands faithful to act.

Unfulfilled desires whatever they may be often shift our focus away from a devotion to Christ, inward towards self. We get discouraged, drained, despondent, and weary in doing good because we focus on what’s missing rather than our mission, entitlement rather our calling. Follow after Jesus and draw others to Him in all seasons of life. When my gaze is on Jesus, I look up and out and see those around me more clearly. There are women hungry, lonely, seeking, and we often miss them when we are focused inward. 

Whatever you may be longing for, wait in active patience, trust, joy, and assurance that allows you give of yourself on the behalf of others.

“Waiting isn't just about what you're waiting for at the end of the wait, but also about what you'll become as you wait.” Paul Tripp

Whether you are married or sitting in singleness The Helper has designed you to be a helper in your home and to those around you. Am I more focused on a longing unfulfilled than I am focused on being present to those God has placed around me?

There is a uniqueness that comes with a season of singleness - opportunity for time, flexibility, an undivided heart and focus. It’s the time God wants to secure a devotion to Him alone. There is a uniqueness that comes with marriage that one can be offered by inviting people into to your life to learn from, observe, and participate. What a gift to put your family on mission to help others – may just be the best thing for them to know how to give of themselves sacrificially and bringing others in even it’s uncomfortable. 

As women we can help others thrive or strive. Thrive to all that God has made them to be. Or strive to measure up, earn approval and please expectations because when we look to self, we are disappointed with what’s done to or for us. They can thrive because you have enough in Jesus to give of yourself. Not cause them to strive because you are unfulfilled and grasping for something from someone. 

We can look to and learn from some the women of old in the Bible that provide glimpses of what it looks like for a woman to come alongside others.

Abigail – 1 Samuel 25
I love this woman and how she steps in to speak into King David’s path. Who’s an Abigail in your life and who are you an Abigail to? Boldly and lovingly approaching someone with helpful truth and guidance. Sometimes the very thing we need saved from is ourselves and the path we are headed down, in need of someone confronting us. 

A woman who choose to boldly step out on behalf of others as she was sovereignly placed in a position in a specific physical place and time in history, “for such a time as this”. You are placed in a specific place and time with purpose, Acts 17:26-27, don’t waste that but keep your eyes up on the harvest. 

Proverbs 31 
Not only was this woman an incredible wife and mother but you find her being a helper to others and those around her. All of her doings involved others – whether that is her husband, her kids, the needy, or those seeking her out. She speaks words of wisdom. She is trusted by others to give sound advice. (31:26)

Rom 16:3-4 – sacrificially gave of themselves at the risk of their comfort, time, and lives.

Titus 2:3-5 
These women could only train, teach, and urge the younger women by living by example and inviting them in. 

1 Timothy 4:11-16 
No matter our age or season we are to set an example for other believers in our speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. Not to neglect our gift. We have a gift of whatever season we are and our spiritual gifts - both to be used for the good and growth of others. 

2 Timothy 3:16 
The Word disciples us (teach, reproof, correct, and train) and we get to disciple each other by doing these same things, lived out in or lives by coming alongside each other. 

If you are longing and waiting to be helper to a husband, be a helper to those around you. If you feel constrained and restricted as a helper only to your husband, be a helper to those around you also, not neglecting your home but out of an overflow of your home. If you are uncertain what it looks like to be a helper, start by looking at The Helper who is our Help and Shield (Psalm 30:10; 33:20; 115:9; 118:7). 

“Because You are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 63:7

“Blessed are you, Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord? He is your shield and helper.” Deuteronomy 33:29

“You make Your saving help my shield; Your help has made me great.” 2 Samuel 22:36