Words swam before my eyes in a blur of medical jargon. My husband, Colin, and I were skimming paperwork in the fertility clinic waiting room. We had already been through several years of tests and treatments –– all of which failed. Now our doctor was recommending we try in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Everything within me wanted to sign the forms and jump into the process right away. At the same time, I knew Colin and I would need to discuss the ethical concerns, work out the logistics, and confirm if we could even afford it. With so much riding on the decision, I slumped to my knees and prayed desperately, “God, please give us wisdom.”
All of us experience moments like this. It could be a new job, a different housing arrangement, a romantic relationship, or a ministry opportunity. When we’re forced to make a decision, we often turn into knowledge seekers. We feel an overwhelming need to accumulate as much information as possible so we can make the best or “right” choice.
As Christians, we tend to label our need to know as a desire for wisdom. And that can be true. However, sometimes we ask God to give us the right thing for the wrong reasons.
What Are We Really Asking for?
As my husband and I considered IVF, God exposed an ulterior motive to my prayers. I thought if He would just give me a straight “yes” or “no,” then I could finally move on and be done with my heartache. Instead of seeking principles to live by, I was grasping for directions to fix a problem.
Maybe you can relate. You’re barely making ends meet and want to know if you should take on a side hustle that your coworker just offered. Or you and your friend are on the rocks, and you could use a manual showing you how to mend the relationship.
God cares about what you’re going through. He is greater than the fears that drive our desire for control. There’s no better place we could go for help in the face of uncertainty. “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6).
The problem has to do with trust. Do we believe that God can handle the vast, scary, potentially devastating consequences of our decisions? Or are we leaning on our own understanding and making a power grab for omniscience?
Pure, biblical wisdom starts with the fear of the Lord (Psalm 111:10). Rather than demand step-by-step directions, we run to God to seek Him first and foremost. We realign our hearts to want to know God more than we want to hear God tell us what to do.
As we pursue a deeper relationship with the Lord, we’ll gain the fullness of living rooted in Christ. In Him are the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).
Tools for Applying Wisdom
Seeking God more than answers gives us peace when we face decisions. He also provides resources to help us discern choices that would honor Him.
Let’s look at three tools we can use to apply God’s values to our decision-making:
Those of us who grew up in church can hum this verse in our sleep: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105). The Bible shines clarity into our unknowns. God’s Word communicates His priorities, shows His promises kept, and shares His love for us through the grand story of His Son. By understanding these truths, we can form righteous convictions that shape our decisions.
Needless to say, the Bible doesn’t address every problem or scenario we encounter. In our case, we didn’t have a verse or passage that told us we should or shouldn’t do IVF.* However, my husband and I paid close attention to Scripture that upholds the sanctity of life in the womb. After heeding biblical principles relevant to our situation, we set firm restrictions on which types of procedures we wouldn’t do in order to protect embryonic life.
As we read, study, meditate on, and memorize Scripture, we’re not just building a mental database of religious facts. The Bible reveals the Word of God made flesh. Growing closer to Jesus and worshiping Him are our goals; the byproduct is gaining everything we need for godly living (2 Peter 1:3).
Sometimes God makes things easy for His kids. When we need wisdom to make a decision, all we have to do is ask. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
Though the process seems simple enough, prayer is a gift more valuable than we can fathom. Just think of it: the Lord who created the world, who sees every fallen sparrow and forms the DNA of every living being –– He lets us talk to Him. We come to our heavenly Father, empty-handed, and He gives us the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13). The Spirit leads us in truth, prompting us in ways only He can do to accomplish God’s will and bring glory to His name (John 16:13).
Even if we don’t sense a Spirit-led nudge in a particular direction, we can trust that God will answer our prayers when and how He wants. This is why we end with “Amen,” which means “So be it, Lord.” Whether you need wisdom for how to parent your child with special needs or to figure out if you should go back to school, bring your requests to His throne, and lay them down.
Difficult decisions can tempt us to feel isolated. We can start to believe that no one has ever been in our position, so no one can help us. Like the rogue heroes in action movies, we have no other choice but to hunt down wisdom on our own.
This feeling is a lie, and a risky one. God designed us to function best in relationships with other people. Everyone who loves and follows Christ is part of His body (1 Corinthians 12:27). By assuming that other people have nothing to offer because they don’t understand our exact situation, we cut ourselves off from a vital resource.
I don’t know you, but I can guarantee someone has faced a decision like what’s burdening you right now. Let them help carry that burden with you. Ask around at church, talk to your pastor and ministry leaders, or maybe find a Christian support group related to your area of need. People can’t replace the Word of God, but they can encourage you to hold onto truth.
Choose to Trust
The pursuit of wisdom isn’t a one-and-done event. We have to make decisions over and over all throughout our lives. That can either sound intimidating or exciting (or both). We can choose to fear the unknown or choose to fear God, who loves us and wants us to walk through life with Him.
When in doubt about a decision, seek the Lord first. Use the tools He gives, take a step of faith, and surrender the outcome to Him.
* Note: In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a medical procedure. The treatment involves complex physiological and ethical implications that can’t be covered within this article. Please seek medical advice from qualified medical professionals.
Jenn Hesse is the coauthor of Waiting in Hope: 31 Reflections for Walking with God Through Infertility. She serves as content director at Waiting in Hope Ministries and has a passion for equipping others to know Christ through his Word. Jenn and her husband and three sons live in the wet wonderland of the Pacific Northwest. Connect with her at jennhesse.com and on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Book link on Amazon: Waiting in Hope: 31 Reflections for Walking with God Through Infertility