This Bible study is too hard! If only I had a dollar for everytime I heard that statement or said it myself! For me, it is hard to lose weight, it is challenging to get enough rest, and it is a struggle to do a multitude of things! I am not perfect. There are so many tasks where I have no training or skill. And I have learned that I was not designed to be good at everything. We live in a fallen world where many things are hard or difficult.
Why do we expect everything we put effort into or try to be easy and smooth?
Honestly, we live in a culture in the U.S. where people run away from many challenges. We give up too soon on most things. How many women do you know who stay consistent with any number or hobbies, relationships, or goals? Christian women who love and follow Jesus are no exception. How many women do you know that stick with the 8-week Bible study to the end? How many women stick with a Bible reading plan for a full month? How many Christian women stay faithful to a daily devotional? But it is not for a lack of trying!
I know so many Christian women who really want to be in God’s Word daily. They want to grow in their faith. They truly desire to live in such a way that they share Christ’s love through their attitudes and actions. They want to read, study, and know the truth of the Scripture. And I know so many women who do all these things with graft and consistency. But what do you tell the woman in your Bible study group who has hit the roadblock and says Bible study is too hard? How do you help your friend who is struggling to read and study God’s Word?
- Acknowledge that Bible study is hard work. Most things in life that are worth anything at all are difficult or challenging at some point. It takes effort and endurance to learn to speak a different language, play an instrument, or become knowledgeable on a subject. Bible study is no different. If one wants to learn truth from Scripture she needs to put in the time and effort it requires.
A few questions you might ask your friend (or yourself) when Bible study seems too hard: What are the things in life that are worth your time investment? How will Bible study help you now and in the future? What are some things you’ve learned from Bible study in the past? How has studying the Bible changed and transformed your life?
- Bible study is life-long learning. In our culture of fast food and social media we want results now! We want answers now! We want everything immediately! But with Bible study practice, patience, and faithfulness are required. There is no shortcut and you don’t finish the test early! Bible study is a life-long discipline. There will be seasons when you plod along with consistency waiting for God to reveal something new that resonates with your circumstances. In those seasons remember that even a little bit of understanding and insight into Scripture is better than nothing. Then there will be other times when you are like a person drinking from a fire hydrant. You may struggle to keep up with and remember all that you are understanding and taking in from Scripture.
When a woman is struggling and says that Bible study is too hard ask: What are the little nuggets of wisdom and truth you gained from the study so far? If God is teaching you one thing from this study, what is it? What is something that you do not understand before from the Bible that you would like to learn more about?
- Take little bites of Scripture and the victory that comes with it. If Bible study is overwhelming for someone, encourage her to take small bites of the study. Remind her that Bible study is not a race! If she needs to go slower in her study or at a different pace, it is OK. It is better to process two days of Bible study and allow the Scripture to soak into one’s soul than to rush through five days of personal study simply to check it off the list of to-do items. Reading, thinking, processing, and reflecting on what one learns and studies takes time. Little bites will help fill up the hungry soul.
When a woman in your Bible study is discouraged or drops out of Bible study because she believes it is too hard ask: What if you created your own timeline to study 5 or 10 minutes a day? Where are you getting stuck in your Bible study? What if I told you that you are not behind but simply allowing God to take you through the study at a different pace and with a different spiritual rhythm of study? Is there one verse or one day of study that you can focus on for a week in order to allow the time needed for reflection?
- Questions are a good thing. Often Bible study creates more questions than answers. Women desire to learn but are challenged as they reflect on what they learned in the past with what they are learning now. What a woman knew and understood as a 20-year-old suddenly needs to be reexamined twenty years later as she turns 40. Many women discover more free time or more time for thinking and reflecting as they mature. Don’t be afraid of asking questions. Questions mean you are learning and growing. It is good to return to the foundational truths that you learned years ago. Remember, review, reflect, and refocus on how they are true today and at this season in life. It is good to ask questions such as who, what, when, where, how, and why when you study the Scripture. Questions take us deeper in knowledge, understanding, and in relationship with God. When a woman says she has more questions than answers if she tries to study the Bible, ask: What are your questions and the answers you discover in the Bible teaching you about God and His character? How are you growing in relationship with Jesus as you ask questions? Whose voice are you listening to as you ask questions — the voices of others or the Holy Spirit’s counsel through Scripture?
Is Bible study too hard? Absolutely! It requires time, effort, patience, the renewing of your mind, a heart to learn, and dependence on the Holy Spirit to be your Counselor and Guide. (See John 14:15-17.) There is nothing the enemy would like more than to hinder your Bible study through distraction, discouragement, and deceit. He is such a liar telling you that it is too hard and that you can’t do it! As Philippians 4:13 says, you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you! And that includes Bible study!
Michelle Hicks is the managing editor for Journey devotional magazine with Lifeway Women. Michelle served as a freelance writer, campus minister, and corporate chaplain before coming to Lifeway. She is a graduate of the University of North Texas and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Michelle has a deep hunger for God’s Word and wants others to discover the abundant life they can have with Jesus as their Lord and Savior.