“Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” Job 12:12
“I wish I knew then what I know now.” Do you ever say that to yourself? I do, and often. “If I knew then what I know now I would have made a different choice, or I would not have done what I did or said what I said.” Such is not an uncommon conversation many of us have with ourselves. And even though we don’t get to go back and do do-overs – second chances perhaps, but not do-overs, what’s done is done! – what we gain from those mistakes and missteps of our past is wisdom. That’s why wisdom is found among the aged.
Haven’t we all from time to time sought out the wisdom of our elders? I think back to the years when we were raising our two sons. On many occasions I sought my mother’s wisdom about parenting, especially when our boys were in their adolescent years. Her counsel always concluded with the same encouragement. “They’re good boys, they’ll be fine.” She was right, of course, for they did turn out fine. But how did she know? I think it’s because she had traveled that same path and suffered the same frustrations and concerns raising my brother and me, also seeking wisdom and counsel from her own mother who probably gave her similar words of advice and encouragement.
Wisdom is not exclusive to the aged, of course; for some younger people can be exceptionally wise, while some older individuals are not so much. The point is much less about age than it is about understanding; and those who open their minds and seek understanding will gain it. Certainly long life contributes to understanding, but only for those who pay attention and learn from what they experience and observe. Likewise, wisdom can be gained by anyone at any age who seeks it out from the wise.
“Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom,” says the writer of Proverbs. “Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7)
I wish I knew then what I know now, but I’m glad I know now what I didn’t know then.