You walk into the kitchen rubbing your eyes, realizing that 6:00 a.m. sounded a lot better last night when you planned your early morning. You make a cup of coffee and grab a cozy blanket. After all, that’s what you’ve seen those women on Instagram do. Monday seemed like a good day to begin your new habit of reading the Bible every morning—a fresh start. You open your Bible, hoping for something encouraging to start off your day on the right foot. But when you begin to read, your experience isn’t quite what you expected. Wait, what’s happening in this story? Why would God make Abraham do that? How am I supposed to apply this to my life? Who in the world is Melchizedek!?
Maybe you're a new believer reading the Bible for the first time, or maybe you’ve known Jesus for a while but have never entered into intentional Bible study. Whatever your experience may be, getting started with Bible study and staying consistent can be intimidating. Studying God's Word may feel challenging or overwhelming, but it's also life-changing. If you find yourself feeling discouraged, confused, or unmotivated, remember these five reminders for women new to Bible study.
1. The Bible is about God
It can be frustrating to read a passage of Scripture and walk away with no idea how to respond. Some passages give clear directives, but others can leave us confused, uneasy, or even bored. But there's one thing we can know for certain about any passage of Scripture, whether it’s straightforward or confusing: all of it shows us something about God. The Bible is inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16), and God reveals who he is in Scripture. So whenever you read a passage, ask this question: What does this passage tell me about God? Does the text state something about God’s character? What do God’s words or actions in the passage reveal about what he’s like? As you ask these questions, you may not find the answers to all of your confusion. But you will get at the heart of what the passage—and the whole Bible—is about.
2. It’s okay if Bible study feels hard
The cozy quiet-time Instagram posts make Bible study look peaceful, encouraging, easy. While Bible study can feel that way sometimes, it can also be really hard. And that’s okay. The Bible was written in different languages to people in completely different time periods and cultures than us. It reveals the infinite, almighty, all-knowing God of the universe, whom we can never fully comprehend. On top of all that, the Bible contains difficult truths that confront us and call us to change. So if studying your Bible is hard, it doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. Bible study can be hard for the beginner as well as the Bible scholar who’s been studying Scripture for decades.
3. Bible study is worth it
While Bible study will sometimes be hard, it’s always worth it. God’s Word transforms our lives. 2 Timothy 3:16–17 tells us it’s “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” The Bible displays God’s character and enables us to know him intimately. Scripture tells us what is true and makes us more like Jesus (John 17:17). It provides comfort for weary hearts, guidance in challenging circumstances, and hope in whatever we face. God’s Word gives us everything we need to know for salvation and to live a godly life (2 Pet. 1:3).
So don’t give up. God’s Word doesn’t return to him void (Isa. 55:11). It accomplishes what he purposes it to do, even when you can’t see it. Over time, you’ll begin to notice that it does get easier. Yes, there will always be times when Bible study is hard, but the more you read, the more you’ll see the one message that God has woven through every page. And that’s exciting! So don’t give up, and remember that the challenging days in Scripture are still transforming you into who God made you to be.
4. Growth takes time
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could snap your fingers and poof! There go all your bad habits, temptations, and sin struggles. God’s Word has the power to change our minds, our hearts, and our actions, but transformation is rarely instantaneous (Rom. 12:2). We should come to God’s Word expecting it to change our lives, but we shouldn’t expect it to be quick and painless. God uses his Word to refine us—to show us God’s character, convict us of sin, and call us to a new way of living. We live in a world of quick fixes, shortcuts, and instant gratification, but that’s not God’s way. Instead, he calls us to a life of true and lasting growth.
As we behold the glory of God in his Word day after day, we are transformed into his image bit by bit, from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18). So don’t lose heart. If you stare at a tree, it won’t look as if it’s growing at all, but the years prove otherwise. So it is with God’s Word in our lives.
5. Studying the Bible doesn’t earn God’s approval
As you read God’s Word, you’ll likely experience the temptation to believe that your Bible study earns God’s approval. This belief may manifest itself in feelings of guilt when you miss a few days of Bible study, in a sense of superiority over others who don’t read their Bibles, or in viewing Bible study as another item to check off your to-do list rather than as a gift from God. The message of the gospel is that there is nothing we can do to earn God’s approval. Rather, Jesus earned it for us with his perfect life, death, and resurrection.
God won’t turn you away or grow angry with you when you’re not consistent in your Bible study, nor will he be more pleased with you or receptive to your prayers when you are. Instead, he invites you to come to the feast of his Word—to delight in it, to draw strength from it, and to know his great love for you there.
Meet the Author
Joanna Kimbrel serves as coordinator of women’s initiatives for The Gospel Coalition. She is a Bible teacher and writer with a passion for sharing the beauty of God’s Word with others. She is the author of The Greatest Hero: The Book of Romans and the co-author of Behold and Believe: A Bible Study on the I Am Statements of Jesus. Joanna and her husband Chad have three daughters and are members of Sojourn Community Church in Woodstock, Georgia. You can follow her on Instagram.