What if I don’t feel healthy enough to read the Bible? Can I skip reading it until I feel better?
That’s the temptation I’m left with and many others when we’re faced with illness.
Sometimes, brain fog, chronic fatigue, and/or chronic pain hang on us heavily. So heavy is this fog that it can make comprehension of the text near impossible.
But I want to make sure I leave you with this thought, the Bible is not just a book. And when we have this nagging question that pesters us, what if I don’t feel healthy enough to read the Bible? We have to remember that the Bible isn’t a book we pick up when we feel like reading.
If the Bible was just a book, then it would make total sense to skip reading it due to a rough flare-up in our health. But it isn’t just a book. The Bible is alive and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.
Several years ago, I couldn’t understand the Bible or any book for that matter. My husband would read to me out loud while I was nestled under a mountain of covers. All the while, I felt as if the cotton in the pillow my head was laying on must have transmitted to my noggin, because nothing seemed to penetrate. It was like the grown-ups talking on Charlie Brown. You know, where all you hear is wonk-wonk–wa-wonk-wonk.
My husband would close the Bible, peer over at me and ask, “What did you get out of what I read?”
I felt almost too embarrassed to answer. “I think I heard something about grace?”
“Well, maybe that’s the main message God wants you to get out of what I just read, Sarah,” would be his customary reply.
He confessed later that he wondered if it was even worth reading the Bible to me. But then he would be met with the verse in his mind’s eye, “my word…will not return empty” (Is. 55:11).
On the days when I don’t feel healthy enough to read the Bible then and now, I learned some techniques that were able to help which I’ll let you in on.
Some Pointers for When You Don’t Feel Healthy Enough to Read the Bible:
Listen to an audio version or have someone read the Bible out loud.
This has been especially useful when I’ve battled vertigo or when I simply have an extreme amount of fatigue. The Bible App has just about every version of the Bible included in their program. All you have to do is select the translation you want and presto, you have someone reading to you while you’re curled under the covers.
If there’s ever a time where your mind strays, or you become frustrated with yourself for not being able to comprehend what’s said, offer a quick prayer to God for Him to help teach you His Word (1 John 2:27) and please remember in those moments, friend, that His Word is active and alive and won’t return to you empty.
Temporarily read an easier translation.
What keeps some people from reading the Bible when they’re sick is their noticeable failure to comprehend the text. This is much more likely to happen if you’re reading more of a word-for-word translation. Maybe you can try out a translation like the NLT (like this one I really like) that’s still a solid translation but is written in easy-to-understand language.
Choose a short book of the Bible and continuously re-read it until you grasp the concepts.
Dive into a short book like 1 Peter and re-read it over the course of several weeks until you feel like you can understand the main contents. Heck, this is even a good practice on your better days since you gain such a vivid overview and depth in re-reading a particular book.
Continue to pray.
What is it that keeps you from reading the Bible? Is it that you can’t comprehend the text due to brain fog/inflammation? Do you become frustrated with yourself as a result? Or does fatigue and pain make it difficult for you to engage in most activities in life including reading the Bible? Whatever it is, be honest with God about the specific reasons that keep you from reading the Bible and ask Him for specific intervention in these areas.
And may we always remember the balance between grace and discipline. Although we need to discipline ourselves to read the Word, there is still grace for the days we miss.