Growing up as a child in Sunday school I used to sing “read your bible pray every day if you want to grow”. Perhaps, you sang this too if you had a similar church experience to mine. Those few words that we may not have fully appreciated then, hold precious truths that we would do well to heed now. The goal of the Christian life is to grow into maturity (Ephesians 4:13) and the Bible declares that we grow as we gain in the knowledge of Christ (1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18). How do we attain the knowledge of Christ? Through His word, by His Spirit (John 6:63). But this isn’t always simple. The Bible is a big book, with many difficult passages to digest. It is easy to gloss over the uncomfortable parts or completely dismiss them. But if all Scripture is profitable (2 Timothy 3:16), shouldn’t we sit with all of Scripture; even the parts that we find most uncomfortable? In an age where answers are just a google away, it can be tempting to turn to the internet instead of the Scriptures. But what would happen if instead of closing our Bible when we don’t understand, we wrestled with the text?
We all want to understand. Whether we are watching a documentary or reading a crime novel, we want to understand. Understanding is part of the consumer experience and heightens the enjoyment of whatever we are participating in. We live in a world where answers are easy to find and if we can’t find the answers we can just move on. This same attitude is then used when engaging with the Bible. We come to God’s word expecting quick answers to our biggest questions and when those answers don’t arrive, we close our Bibles and move on to something else. In a world that may reward our impatience, God’s word does not. Part of the frustration of the Christian life is that maturity takes time. There are no shortcuts to maturity. Perhaps that’s how the fruit of patience is cultivated within us? Maybe those texts that we don’t immediately understand or those verses that trouble our hearts are to drive us to pray, “Open my eyes so that I may contemplate wondrous things from your instruction” (Psalm 119:18).
On a Personal Note
For those struggling to spend concerted time in the Scriptures or are battling a verse that is troubling your mind, I understand. Earlier in my Christian walk, I struggled with the idea of suffering. No matter how many blogs I read, sermons I listened to or people I spoke to, I couldn’t understand why God would allow people to suffer. I encountered several good answers that would satisfy my question temporarily but ultimately, I was back to square one. Now, we need good answers to respond to our most pertinent questions but if we see the Bible as merely a tool to for Q&A, we miss the deep riches that are available for us daily. One of my favourite podcasts ‘Windows & Mirrors’ describes the Bible as this, “The Bible is a window not a mirror. We look to it, to see through it and see God and not look at primarily to see ourselves”. In other words, we don’t read the Bible to try to understand ourselves or our world more, but to know God! Then as we begin to know God more, everything else will begin to make sense. So, if you’re struggling to engage with the Bible, my encouragement to you is to keep going. Because wrestling with the text is more than just trying to find answers to your questions, it’s a war against everything that wishes to tell you that there is something out there better than God.