ONE thing that used to frustrate me no end was the times I’d have to endure know-it-all people who always want (and seem) to be right. I guess it revealed to me my own pride, but these people don’t cause me as much of a problem these days because I see through the facade – certainly some, indeed much, knowledge can be known; much can be learned; a great deal of knowhow can be acquired… but some knowledge can never be known, ever!
This is a thing we begin to realise as we traverse our thirties and we certainly know it by our forties: some knowledge can never be known.
Like what to do to ‘fix’ grief.
Also, what do we do when our partner has an affair, or we’re betrayed somehow.
Knowledge cannot help an addiction; only the application of behavioural change can do that.
Or, when a key investment goes belly up, or a goal we have is constantly frustrated.
But let’s return to the most palpable of all the above: grief. For grief, there’s no knowledge that’s knowable that can help. There’s no way to ‘fix’ it in a way we can control it.
Sooner or later people who place a high price on knowing knowledge get to learn this truth, or they may tend to deny it, but only to their own detriment, for they don’t process their grief in the only way it can be processed – by letting it happen via the inverted strength of humility.
So it’s one thing that knowledge can’t help: grief. There is nothing we can know that can make grief better. There is no knowledge that can assist us heal our grief faster, more efficiently, or with greater efficacy.
This is where God gets us. The best way to deal with grief is via the spiritual way, because grief, by its very nature, deals with loss that this life cannot reconcile. What is lost is gone! It’s not coming back, or at least it can’t come back the way we want it to come back. All we can do to help ourselves is to accept what we cannot change – which is precisely one-third of the Serenity Prayer.
It’s actually a great comfort to me that when I work with people in ministry, there’s a sense that unknowable matters even the playing field for everyone.
Unknowable matters stand there to break us; they break us down to a point where our pride for knowledge can no longer protect us – if anything our pride for knowledge makes us look like fools.
Where this is most encouraging is in the 25-year-old I counsel, who has suffered much loss, who has peers who appear more successful and more well-adjusted to life. But his peers haven’t suffered the indignity of coming to the end of themselves yet. They haven’t yet come to that despairing place – the end of knowable knowledge. But they will. They will at some point. And the end of us knowing our way out of the problem is the beginning of our actual dependence on God.
Yes – faith commences only when we come to the end of our knowledge.