In his monumental book The Great Influenza, John M. Barry recounts the story of the 1918 flu epidemic. Barry reveals how health officials, rather than being caught off guard, anticipated a massive outbreak. They feared that World War I, with hundreds of thousands of troops crammed into trenches and moving across borders, would unleash new viruses. But this knowledge was useless to stop the devastation. Powerful leaders, beating the drums of war, rushed toward violence. And epidemiologists estimate that fifty million people died in the epidemic, adding to the roughly twenty million killed in the war’s carnage.
We’ve proven over and again that our human knowledge will never be enough to rescue us from evil (Proverbs 4:14–16). Though we’ve amassed immense knowledge and present remarkable insights, we still can’t stop the pain we inflict on one another. We can’t halt “the way of the wicked,” this foolish, repetitive path that leads to “deep darkness.” Despite our best knowledge, we really have no idea “what makes [us] stumble” (v. 19).
That’s why we must “get wisdom, get understanding” (v. 5). Wisdom teaches us what to do with knowledge. And true wisdom, this wisdom we desperately require, comes from God. Our knowledge always falls short, but His wisdom provides what we need.