This sixth essay will explore the Gift of Knowledge. This knowledge is not about how many degrees one has, how many facts one knows, or the prestige of one’s career. This Knowledge is about that which pertains to our eternal life. It is Knowledge of God and his ways. We read in Proverbs 18:15, “The heart of the intelligent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” Knowledge of God requires action, which we must acquire and seek. Of course, like the other Gifts, we can only take these actions through the grace of God.
Our Knowledge of God grows throughout our life time. And this Knowledge extends beyond the pages of a book. This Knowledge requires us to know about God. Not just facts from the Bible and memorizing Bible verses. To grow in Knowledge we must live the faith which we profess. When we are learning physics, we apply this knowledge in a lab, where we see how our knowledge works. When we memorize the names of plants, we then go out and find the plants in nature, and this solidifies and furthers our knowledge about the names we have memorized. When we look at the facts and information that we have about God, the laboratory in which we apply them is through the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity in the challenges of our everyday life. For purposes of this essay, we look at Knowledge within the tests of Faith. Knowledge is that which both relies on and tests the integrity of our Faith.
Let us look at an example. When our life is going well, perhaps we can feel God’s presence in our lives, we are happy, and we can find joy in many things in life. But what about when tragedy strikes us? Maybe it is an illness or the death of a loved one. What happens to our faith? Our faith gets tested in this time of trial. For anyone who has suffered with mental health challenges, you will know that feeling God within the suffering of mental illness can be very challenging and sometimes impossible. Our faith can feel very weak, because so often we rely on good feelings to judge our faith. But when we are suffering, our faith leads us to seek out Knowledge of God and, like an experiment in the lab, it tests the knowledge that we already possess. Like Fortitude, Knowledge comes through suffering. There are certainly other ways to acquire Knowledge, but the time that will certainly challenge our Faith and Knowledge is within suffering. If God is a loving God, why are we suffering? If God is with us always, why can’t we feel him in the darkness of mental health? If God has the best plans for us, why did he allow a child to pass away? If we reframe the why questions here, we end up at Knowledge. We are told in the Bible that God is loving. We are told that he is with us always. We are told that his ways are good and better than ours. But when we are faced with these questions, what we need to do is acquire and seek Knowledge of God within our suffering. If we crumble in suffering and we feel our Faith is weak, through the Holy Spirit’s help we can remedy this through Knowledge. Through Knowledge we can grow in Faith.
When our Faith and Knowledge is tested in suffering, like any good lab experiment, we must be sure to follow certain steps. Let us use the fact that God is always with us. The Bible is clear about this. But when we are suffering, we can lose the feeling that God is with us. What do we do when we have lost the feeling of God’s presence? Our Faith tells us to apply the Knowledge that we have of say, prayer. When we suffer, how many times do we forget to pray or do we give up on prayer because God is not answering us in a way we perceive or in the way we want. If we do not have proper Knowledge of God, this can lead us to stop praying and give into despair. Faith tells us to keep praying, Knowledge tells us how to keep praying. Are we just repeatedly praying for God to take away our suffering? Or can we recognize when it is the words of our request that need adjusting? Should we be praying for strength or maybe we should be offering gratitude? Do we need to express our emotions to God or ask for comfort? Are we being called to a new type of prayer such as praying the rosary or Liturgy of the Hours? Would we benefit from a regular habit of adoration or devotion to the Sacred Heart? If we are to apply what the Proverb above tells us, we have to acquire and seek. And following the same habits and patterns that no longer aid us or that we feel are no longer helping is not growing in Knowledge, it is growing in frustration.