Christen Limbaugh Bloom: Having trouble understanding the Bible? Here's how I do it

"The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple." — Psalm 119:130

Have you ever felt discouraged while reading the Bible because you didn’t quite get it? I’ve been stumped by certain verses many times. I used to allow my lack of understanding to defeat me. I started off with good intentions, but as soon as things didn’t quite add up in my mind, I closed my Bible and gave up, “saving it for another day.”

Though I’m still no theological expert, I’ve come a long way since then. The change I made to improve my Biblical understanding was simple, but didn’t occur to me until I began to comprehend God’s nature. I needed to realize the intensity of His grace before I could feel comfortable enough to ask Him for help while reading His word.

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I used to imagine God as a stoic, grandfather-like being who expected me to read my Bible every day and accept it without any questions asked. But when I opened my heart to Jesus and genuinely asked Him to take over my life, the Holy Spirit helped me discern I could actually ask HIM to help me see His point of view if a scripture seemed confusing or unfair.

It might seem counterintuitive, but it pleases God when we humble ourselves and ask Him for His guidance when we are struggling to understand Him.

It sounds easy, but sadly I think a lot of people miss out on this. Without fail, every time I’ve humbled myself to God and have asked Him to help me accept His will for my life — and for all of humanity — He has never neglected to come through. And sometimes He’s done this in unfathomable ways.

Just the other day, I began reading the Old Testament book of Judges. My initial plan was to re-read the Book of Ruth (one of my favorites). When I read the introductory article to Ruth in my study Bible, I found that Ruth lived during the period of the Jewish judges — something I had never learned before. Since the Book of Judges is right before Ruth, I resolved to try something new and start there.

Let me just say, Judges isn’t exactly a fun book to read. It’s all about the Israelite’s repeated failures to obey God and to be honest, I was struggling to get through it. I was considering skipping ahead to Ruth where I knew there would be a happy ending.

The day I wanted to retire Judges, I said a prayer and asked God to help me understand the lessons I needed to take away from this difficult book. Hours later, a friend texted inviting me to join her Bible study. I agreed and downloaded the eBook for the study later that day.

What happened next I could hardly believe. The first Bible passage the author directed us to read was Judges 6:1 — the EXACT spot where I left off in my reading of Judges. Yes, really. After stepping back in awe, I returned to the reading and the author proceeded to give an in-depth explanation about the proof of God’s love for His people showcased throughout the Book of Judges.

I realized I was dwelling too much on the negative aspects of the stories, seeing God only as a judge over His people and failing to appreciate His father-like grace given to undeserving children.

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Once again, I was dumbfounded with God’s intimate and never-failing attentiveness to my prayers. We won’t always have mystifying experiences like this when we ask God for wisdom, but He DOES hear and answer each and every one of our prayers in His perfect timing. It might seem counterintuitive, but it pleases God when we humble ourselves and ask Him for His guidance when we are struggling to understand Him.

"Humble yourselves, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." — 1 Peter 5:6-7

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