We are living in the midst of an incredible irony. Never before in human history have we had more access to more information. In seconds, we can find a treasure trove of information about any subject imaginable. It’s all there, all available, all free. And yet at the same time, never have we been less sure about who and what information to actually believe.
In a way, it seems like we are living in a house of mirrors at a carnival. You look around and everything has the look of reality, and yet when you get up close to it, you find that very few things are the actual, real thing and most everything else is in reality just a reflection of what is real.
Do you sense it, too?
Do you often wonder what organization to really believe? What statistics are actual? Who is telling the whole truth? Which post and which stream is truly unbiased? I certainly do. We are, it seems, not suffering from lack of information; we are suffering from lack of clarity.
Not so with the Bible though. The Bible will tell us the truth.
Sometimes that truth is what we want to hear – God’s love, His grace, His provision, His sustaining mercy – these are all true things that are, in a sense, pleasing to the ear. And to the heart. These are truths that meet us where we are, deep in the midst of our own anxiety, fear, and doubt and remind us of who God is and that we are His beloved children.
But truth is not like a buffet line in which you can get the pie but skip the lima beans. If the Bible is true about those things that are balms to our hearts and souls, then the Bible is also true about those things which challenge the way we are living, thinking, and making decisions. These are the hard truths of the Bible – the ones that call us to lives of greater obedience, self-sacrifice, and holiness. The truths that call us to stand in opposition to the cultural trends and demand that we have a different pattern of thinking than that of the world.
But these truths, too, are good for our souls.
Of course, you say, because the Bible is good for our souls. And right you are. All truth is good for us whether it’s easy truth or not. But beyond this broad sense in which the Bible is good for our souls, these hard truths are good for another reason as well. These hard truths are formative for our souls not just because of what they specifically teach us about God, ourselves, and the world – they are formative in general because of the posture they move us to.
Think about in terms of stretching. If you’re like me, there are some stretches you can do that are easier than others. You might be more flexible in your hamstrings than your lower back; you might be more flexible in your triceps than in your calf muscles. So while all stretching is a good thing for your overall health, some stretches are going to be more difficult than others. Should you avoid those because they are more painful? Absolutely not – in fact, the fact that they are more painful probably reveals which parts of your anatomy need the most work.
The same is true with the Bible, in a way. When we come up against a truth that is difficult for us to personally accept and live out, it doesn’t mean that we should avoid it. In fact, the fact that it’s difficult for us probably reveals something about our personal belief system or previous experiences or even our current lifestyle that needs to be stretched. It needs to be shaped. It needs to be worked.
This is why these hard truths are good for us – they force our whole selves into a posture of humble submission to God who always tells us the truth.
So, Christian, as you come up against these hard truths of the Bible, ask yourself: “Why am I having such difficulty with this?” And what you might find is that this truth – this hard truth – is a means of grace, stretching you into the person who humbly submits to the authority of God and His Word.