When Bible Study Feels Impossible

February 8, 2022  - By Brittany Allen

When Bible Study Feels Impossible - an article from Well-Watered Women

This article is part of our How to Study the Bible Series. Read the other articles in the series here:


When Bible Study Feels Impossible

My toddler danced around me with energy that far exceeded my own. I sat perfectly still on the couch while watching him and willing myself not to throw up. The baby nestled in my womb brought deep joy, but at the same time, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and a POTS diagnosis left me completely depleted. Simple tasks had become daunting and Bible study had begun to feel impossible. 

Shame filled my mind in sentences like “If you really loved God, you could overcome brain fog and study your Bible” and “You’re a fraud—you say you love Bible study but look at you now.”

What is wrong with me? Why am I not like [insert name of woman on Instagram who studies her Bible every single day—no matter what]?

The fact is, there will be times in life when deep Bible study feels hard. What do we do when grief overwhelms, sickness takes over, spouses leave, loved ones pass away, anxiety paralyzes, babies won’t sleep, or life feels like it’s stealing every ounce of energy we have? We need God’s Word to sustain us in every trial, minimal or severe, but we might have to reevaluate what our interaction with his Word looks like.

Grace for Every Season

Rather than wallowing in shame over our weakness, we need to remember that our God is gracious, drawing us to himself where we will find mercy and grace in our time of need (Heb. 4:16). Shame over our lack of deep Bible study leads us to believe we must be perfect Christians to be accepted by God; grace reminds us that Jesus paid it all and that he is our righteousness. How much precious time we waste when we could simply open his Word instead!

I used to believe the only “right” way to approach the Bible was through deep, inductive study. Then I lost three babies to miscarriage in a year, and suddenly, my tidy idea of studying God’s Word was wrecked. No longer did I approach my Bible with hands grasping for knowledge, but instead with a heart desperate for my Comforter (2 Cor. 1:3). It’s okay if you’re in a season where simply reading a few verses of Scripture is all you can muster. Or if a guided Bible study or solid devotional is your only means of interacting with the Word. If you stay parked in the Psalms for years, there’s nothing wrong with that. Maybe the brain fog is so thick that listening to the Bible is what works for you. That’s perfectly okay. 

God gives grace for every season of weakness and struggle. 

Survival Mode

A friend of mine shared a helpful analogy with me when all-day nausea bogged me down. Anyone who’s experienced morning sickness knows that nutrition goes out the window and you enter survival mode. Suddenly, things you swore you’d never eat again become the only option. Look, when Taco Bell is the only thing that sounds like it won’t make you throw up (don’t try to understand—there is no logic to explain this), you eat the Taco Bell. Is it nutritious? Barely. But you’re just trying to survive. Eating Taco Bell becomes a better option than risking dehydration from being sick. 

When we’re in seasons of survival mode, our time in the Word will look different. If you’re up every night with a newborn for weeks on end, your mental capacity changes. When grief strikes, your ability to think deeply may be impaired. In seasons like these, we may not be able to accomplish the deep Bible study we once enjoyed, but we are sustained even by the one verse we do read. And we are sustained by the previous years of seeking God in his Word that have prepared our faith for the very valley we’re walking through today.

Jen Wilkin once wisely asked, “What if the passage you study today is preparing you for a trial ten years from now?” Many times, the Holy Spirit brings to mind passages of Scripture we studied previously to minister to our aching hearts in the now.

Freedom to Rest in Grace

Sister, you have freedom in your season of weakness to rest in the grace poured out on you from above. We don’t have to feel guilty for missing a day or two of opening his Word. He isn’t angry with us. He beckons us to draw near to him today, no matter how long it’s been. Let’s open his Word and lay aside our ideas of the perfect way to study and just seek him today. Here are some practical ways you can do so:

  • Grab a devotional like Refreshed
  • Listen to the Bible using an audio app like Dwell
  • Read a psalm
  • Meditate on one verse using a resource like the the Be Still & Know Studies
  • Pray God's Word back to him
  • Ask a friend to share what they’re learning in their Bible study
  • Ask a friend, spouse, or family member to read a few verses to you

We have the gift of seeking the face of our Father, our Comforter, in every hard season. He sees what we’re walking through and he longs to encourage us with his Word. 

Pressing On in Your Bible Study

Chances are, each of us is in one of two groups: the group that needs to rest or the group that needs to persevere. Maybe you feel like, in order to please God, you must study his Word for an hour a day. But he might be calling you to slow down and remember the grace he offers you. Or maybe you’re in a hard season that’s led to laziness, and you rarely, if ever, pick up your Bible. God might be calling you to lay aside the sin of laziness and open the Scriptures. Pressing on will look different for each of us. 

What is God calling you to today? How can you seek him right now in this season? Lean into grace and seek his face. He’s drawing you to himself even now.

Meet the Author

Brittany is a follower of Christ, wife to James, and mama to Theodore and three babies lost through miscarriage. She longs to encourage women to think and live biblically, making Christ their ultimate Treasure. You can find more of her writing at brittleeallen.com or follow her on Instagram @brittanyleeallen.

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