There is a belief or custom in many societies that age brings wisdom. This gave rise to the role of Elder, where the older members of the family or society are in a position of leadership, and this has been incorporated into church life, though here spiritual maturity is normally the qualifying factor rather than physical age. [pullquote_right]Wisdom is comprehension of what is true or right coupled with optimum judgment as to action (Wikipedia)[/pullquote_right]Note that I have said that age brings wisdom, not intelligence or knowledge. I am sure that we have all met someone who is incredibly clever, but who shouldn’t really be allowed out on their own!

Wisdom doesn’t come from reading every encyclopaedia you can get your hands on, even if you can remember every word in them. That is knowledge. Wisdom will probably use knowledge, but it also uses experience and looks at all the facts or interests involved. Obviously, to build up wisdom, you need time or age to build up experience.

I have said on many occasions that everything I have ever done has brought me to now. Some of that is easy to show – all my hard work at school and university gave me a good start in my career and the resulting economic status, but I don’t just mean the tangible things.[pullquote_left]Everything I have ever done has brought me to now[/pullquote_left] I am really talking about all the things that make me me, all the experiences and the accompanying emotions.

I think I came to first make this statement after I had recovered from the break-up of my first marriage. It was a very painful experience at the time and, probably like everyone who has ever been through it, I wished at one point that I had never got married in the first place. But then I realised that if that had been the case then my wonderful children would never have been born. I wished at the time that my marriage hadn’t failed but, if that had been the case, I would never have met Libby and, perhaps, not have become a Christian.

I came to the realisation that there are a lot of things which happened in my life which were not very pleasant but that, even if I could go back and “remove” them from my life, I would not do so, since I would lose too many good things.

My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees. (Ps 119:71, NLT)

I do not believe for one second that God puts us through bad times for any reason, but I am convinced that he never wastes pain or suffering. He will take it and turn it into wisdom. You learn very quickly that putting your hand in a fire is not a very good thing to do. When God turns pain into wisdom, it helps us to avoid similar pain in the future.

He helps us to help others too. When we say to someone, “I know how you feel” and can demonstrate that we really know how that person feels, we can also lead them through the healing process – they will trust us because we have the experience. I have seen it so often in my work in Celebrate Recovery. When we help others to heal, we also heal ourselves just a wee bit more.

When God turns pain into wisdom, it also helps us to forgive. A new friend of mine has had a very painful life, but is now living a life of joy as he walks with Christ. [pullquote_right]I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has ever hurt me[/pullquote_right]He told me that when his recovery started he stood up to address a crowd of people and opened with these words, “I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has ever hurt me.” He knew that without the experiences of his life he would not be embarking on what is now an amazing work of helping many, many people.

Satan is determined that we spend our lives in the past, dwelling in the pain. God, on the other hand wants us to build on the past, to live in the present, and to look forward to an amazing future. God never wastes a hurt, neither will he ignore it.

Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good. (Ps 90:15, NLT)

Don’t waste your hurts. They all brought you to this time, this place. Let God replace the evil years with good. Start building with him.