A “Wise Ignorance”

Joseph Hall was the Anglican Bishop of Exeter during the 1630s, a self-proclaimed moderate, who often found himself caught in the middle between the Puritans and the Laudians during the theological and ecclesiastical controversies of those tumultuous days in “jolly ole England.” He was involved in the publishing of some of John Donne’s poems (he of “No man is an island, we are all a part of the whole” fame) and once was caught up in a pamphlet war with John Milton over abolishing the episcopal hierarchy of the Anglican Church (Hall defended the hierarchy). While I assume that I would agree with the Puritans more often than with Hall, he wrote something in the 17th century that speaks volumes to us today:

As there is a foolish wisdom, so there is a wise ignorance; in not prying into God’s ark, not inquiring into things not revealed. I would fain know all that I need, and all that I may: I leave God’s secrets to Himself. It is happy for me that God makes me of His court though not of His council.”

While God has revealed to us in His Word all that we need to know, and we should mine that Word for all of the knowledge that we can possibly unearth; it is best that we leave God’s secret purposes in His hands. He is the One who is “causing all things to work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose,” and in the darkest of nights it is almost always better to cry out, “I am hurting, but I trust You, Lord,” than, “Why, me?”

We must keep in the forefront of our minds that the Omniscient One is also the Merciful One, and that He is working for our eternal good and His eternal glory through the difficulties that we are experiencing. I am not saying that you should ignore your pain, or dry your tears; I am saying that it is important to remember that the Good Shepherd will lead you through those dark providences (even if they include the “valley of the shadow of death”) and that His “goodness and mercy shall follow [you] all the days of [your] life, and [you] shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Pray to the Lord to give you a “wise ignorance” and cling to what Charles Spurgeon once said, “God is too good to be unkind. He is too wise to be confused. If I cannot trace His hand, I can always trust His heart.”

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