I felt sapped and was so tired, and so quick to get stuck reading my Bible and getting anything out of it. I kept reading it because I knew I needed to, I wanted to dig deeper, but I was genuinely stuck. I joined a short inductive Bible study in the book of Ruth, managed to go to the first few studies, but got sick or was unable to make the last two meetings. “So there’s that,” I thought. “So much for trying to do more than skim the surface.”
I knew that if I let my exhaustion continue to defeat me, it would become a vicious cycle. I would let my fatigue and lack of drive spiral into more and more of the same because I wasn’t feeding on the Lord. I was so quick to fall into being frustrated and short-tempered, and I wanted life to be more than just a blur, trying to get from 6 AM to midnight every day.
Something had to give. I knew there was a better way to deal with this problem so I cried out to God, “Lord, please give me a hunger for your Word and the energy and the will to dig in.” I praise him that he answered my cries for help.
“Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me!
O Lord, make haste to help me!” Psalm 40:13 ESV
These are the three things that I’ve found work when you’re trying to persevere through a hard season and studying your Bible seems impossible.
1. Ask God daily for the hunger and the will to get into his word.
Most of the time, when you feel hunger pangs, you know you need to go to the pantry or the fridge to feed yourself. But often life gets busy and harried and we forget to meet one of our own basic needs, either because we don’t feel hungry or we’re busy ignoring the hunger and accomplishing other things. But this just results in us trying to deal with life physically unequipped.
Sometimes Bible reading is a habit, but like eating, sometimes life circumstances overwhelm us and we need to be reminded of our need to fill up and fuel ourselves for life. Pray, asking God to give you the hunger and the determination to seek him in his word.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6, ESV
Jesus promises that he will fill and satisfy us when we are hungering after righteousness. He says to us, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35, ESV) Trust him and take him at his word. Ask him to make you hungry and to satisfy you.
2. Don’t wait for the “perfect” moment.
Probably the most important thing I’ve learned from my wise friend Pam Forster (author of the Bible Studies for Busy Mamas) is that you don’t always need to have “quiet time” or be alone to get into the Word of God. We are so blessed to have copies of the Bible at our fingertips and most of us have at least one copy in our house, maybe many more than one.
If you’re having trouble sitting down to read, keep Bibles around the house in locations that you often find yourself. Do you have two minutes? Open the Bible up to where you’re reading and keep it open. Read it out loud to your kids. Don’t worry if your kids are one or two years old and don’t understand. Read it anyway.
Download an audio Bible app and keep your phone with you for when you have an opportunity to listen. Most chapters of the Bible are less than 5 minutes in an audio Bible. Stick your phone on the counter and listen while you’re in the bathroom, or doing your makeup, if that’s what it takes.
3. Read to find out who God is and what he says about himself.
Don’t read your Bible looking for what it is going to tell you about yourself or what you should do. I find this is one of my biggest pitfalls. I get so task-oriented that I often read looking for what I need to know or what I need to do. And when I’m feeling discouraged, I often look for what the Bible says about me so that I can figure things out. Topical Bible studies aren’t all bad, but it’s not the best place to start. Jen Wilkin is a favorite Bible teacher of mine; in her book Women of the Word, she calls looking for how the Bible can serve me in my situation “The Xanax Approach”. Ultimately if I do this all the time, I am making the Bible a book about me, and this really limits the impact that my time studying can have.
When we read the Bible to know God for who he says he is, we will find out who we are in Him. I have found that the kind of Bible study that has really lifted me out of whatever discouraging rut I’ve been in, is the kind that spends a few moments in a chapter really searching who God is declaring himself to be in those verses.
I am reading through Matthew right now, and using the new journalling Bible that my husband gave me for Christmas to take notes in the margins. You could also use a plain notebook or your bullet journal, but just take some time to jot down a few notes about who God is, pray for wisdom and the eyes to see him, and you’ll be amazed at what he shows you about yourself.
Remember, in the few minutes you take to get the word of God into you, either by hearing it read to you, or the five or ten minutes that you can grab to read:
you are making an investment. You are depositing into your savings account, as Jen Wilkin puts it. Nothing is wasted in your Savior hands. Commit to him the few minutes you have to study him and his word and believe that he will bring results in your life.
*If you are interested in joining a Bible study with a very no-pressure approach, Pam Forster is beginning a new 30 day study in Ephesians 6 on July 1st. The time you can invest will be worth it!*