I remember how I felt after discovering the gospel of Christ. It felt like tons of weights had just been lifted off my shoulders and that I don’t have to live aimlessly for my selfish desires anymore. My insecurity — my constant inability measure up to everyone’s expectations, including God, was nailed to the cross as Christ finished the work that I could never do (Colossians 2:14, Romans 8:2-4). Then I realized how the gospel is not only a beautiful narrative, but more importantly it has the power to change every fiber of all our being (Romans 1:16).
The experience was quite distinguishable from the moments after reading great stories, watching inspirational movies, or listening to brilliant soundtracks. Unique from those entertainments, my whole life was changed not because I decided to read a book, watch a movie, or listen to a music track; not because of my doing, but His. And what was it that He did? He gave me grace — the grace to know Him, the Maker of the whole universe, the One who formed me and the days that are ahead, the One who is eternal and is sovereign over everything. I was given a precious gift of knowing God Himself and enjoying Him. This led to many hours spent studying the Bible, which was a delight.
But then came the moment where the spark started to dim; I read the Bible and it felt tasteless. I wondered, ‘Is it me or the Bible?’ I no longer desired God; the joy was gone. During that time I still read the Bible, but it felt forced rather than out of a deep heartfelt desire. I found it to be weird, that at that moment my mouth could attest to the truths in the Scripture, yet deep down I felt nothing. The spark of love was not there anymore. Divorce seems to be the answer to couples who are faced with unhappiness — should I divorce from reading God’s Word?
The Bible, Our Needs, and Our Feelings
What does the Bible say about this? The Bible is very clear that we cannot live by bread alone, but also from the Word of God (Matthew 4:4). Our very life is affected by the reading of God’s Word. It’s also written that His Word is more enjoyable than honey is to our mouth (Psalm 119:103). But what if these sound like easier to say than to do? What if we want to believe these truths, yet our hearts are screaming otherwise?
The Bible is also very clear that it’s through the Spirit that we’re enabled to know Him (John 14:26, Romans 8:14-17), not because of our intelligence or theological prowess (Romans 8:7-8). And about our hearts, God says not to follow them (Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 3:23) but to do His commands instead (John 14:15). It’s also written that our old rebellious hearts have been changed (Ezekiel 11:19), and only by His grace we’re saved (Ephesians 2:8-10). He gives us the strength to approach His throne of grace, to pray to Him, that we may ask for mercy and repent (Hebrews 4:16). These are all God’s work, to which we can add nothing more.
After exploring and wrestling with these truths, the tasteless Bible reading then felt more like mercy than a stumbling block. It is mercy that God reminds me of His grace, that what Christ had accomplished on the cross remain finished despite of what I feel. Looking back to how God has been good, even in things that seemed bad then restored the joy found in being faithful toward Christ. Indeed, it is truly mercy that we’re reminded of these truths, one of them being that He still holds us fast. For what other hope does one can have outside of Him? Thankfully, we can take comfort in the gospel of Christ, that He does everything which we can never do. It is mercy that we’re given the strength to repent, to return to the love that we first had — a love that is set aflame not by our willpower, but God’s grace. It is a love that He Himself ended up restoring, and will restore again if need be. He’s the God who lets us enjoy Himself, in whose presence there is the fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).
All these truths, all our sin, and all the moments when we’re enabled to return to Him are reminders all our lives rely on God’s perfect faithfulness. We should rejoice for our lives are not ours anymore, but God’s, who lovingly rescues us out of damnation and holds everything in His hand. This is a God who reveals Himself through His Word, in all His holiness and love and we get to read the very words He breathes. When we read every word, may our joy also lead to a deep sense humility to behold such a God — Our Creator and Our Redeemer. He’s the One who deserves all honor and praise, and who gives us the heart and strength that we may honor and praise Him. He’s the One who started everything, created everything out of nothingness, and breathes life to our barely beating heart. O my soul, behold Him!