“Many of the difficulties we experience as Christians can be traced to a lack of Bible study and reading. We should not be content to skim through a chapter merely to satisfy our conscience. Hide the Word of God in your heart! A little portion well digested is of greater value to the soul than a lengthy portion scanned hurriedly.
Do not be discouraged because you cannot understand it all. Go on reading. As you read, the Holy Spirit will enlighten the passages for you. Reading the Bible has a purifying effect upon the heart and mind.”
-Billy Graham devotional
One struggle that afflicts most every believer I know is our tendency to wait to run to God until the storms of life hit us. The greater the difficulty that comes, the more likely we are to pray with desperation, share our problems with the Body at large, and look to the Word for answers. But if everything’s rolling along at a fine pace, or some things are just mildly frustrating us, we zone out and try to go it alone. Our prayers aren’t as fervent, our searching of the Scriptures isn’t as passionate, and our connections with the Body can wane.
The problem with this approach is that if this is all we do through life, we aren’t actually prepared in advance for our problems when they come. We’re always scrambling in the midst of our stress and pain, suddenly desperate to find the answer to “why?”, “why now?”, “why me?”
SO WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT OUR PROBLEMS?
- One of the best things we can do is to regularly read Scripture. Even if you are not “needing” it now, learning the truth of what God says about suffering, dependence on Him, and the trials of life is invaluable when the hardship hits. By being familiar with James, Acts, Hebrews, 2 Corinthians, Psalms, and the hurts of the characters in places like Genesis and Hosea, we are more able to face suffering with the perspective of God— able to say, like Joseph, “God means this for good.”
- We can regularly ponder Scripture. It is what we should meditate on. Have you ever found a song filling your head all day long? Sometimes you can’t even remember where you last heard it, but it’s there, lodged in your brain. I think that’s how it should be with the Word… running through our minds, filling our thoughts, even at times when we aren’t actively “thinking.” When we hide God’s Word in our heart, that is what comes out when we are raw and hurting. Someone said of John Bunyan that “if you prick him anywhere,” he would “bleed” the Bible. He was so full of it that, when in conversation, it filled nearly every sentence he spoke.
- We can regularly pray Scripture. A friend of mine recently encouraged the women in our church to pray portions of Scripture back to God. Reading a Psalm verbatim to God, letting it be an expression of your heart, OR rewording the Scripture into your own words, but letting the message fill your mind and soul, actually reorients the way we think about life. We begin to think about the world from a correct perspective– the one that God inspired in His Word.
- Finally, and perhaps this is the best completion of any/all of the above, we can choose to believe Scripture over our own feelings, especially in times of hurt and suffering. Our hearts are deceitful & wicked. During times of difficulty, we are easily tempted to self-pity, despair, hopelessness, resentment, anger, hostility, rage toward God or humans, self-focus, a desire for vengeance, and more. But when we actively take on the mind of Scripture, and (for example) say “The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord,” at times of great trial, God is honored, and our hearts are oriented toward Him. By intentionally identifying ourselves with Him (rather than believing that we are captive to every feeling we ever feel), He makes us new, changes our thinking, and conforms us more into the image of Christ (who said, in the time of His greatest sorrow, “if it is possible take this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done.”).
I feel thoroughly convicted after reminding myself of these things. I’ve got to do a better job, daily, of pursuing God– learning to know Him better– through His Word.
What do you need to do to hide God’s Word a little deeper in your soul today?
What step(s) do you need to take to be better prepared for future suffering?
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