The Bible Makes Me Uncomfortable (And That’s a Good Thing)

I jumped off a cliff the summer I was 16.

It seemed like a good idea at the time… until I was hurtling toward the water below. Let me tell you, water isn’t always a great cushion. Flailing like Wiley E. Coyote trying to run on thin air, I tilted back just enough that the force of impact dislocated my right shoulder.

I didn’t know what was wrong. I just knew I couldn’t move my arm. Without my bones, muscles, and nerves laying where they were designed to, I had no feeling or function at all, not even in my fingers. As I struggled to hoist myself up onto the rocky bank, my shoulder snapped back into place. It hurt. A lot. And it took several weeks of rest, ice, and careful exercise for the ache to fade and my strength to return.

There wasn’t a pain-free way to regain the use of my arm.

Discomfort isn’t fun, but it’s almost always part of the healing process — including healing for our out-of-joint hearts.

I’m just going to say it: there are parts of Scripture that I don’t like. There are passages that make me squirm, leave me feeling exposed and raw. There are verses I’d rather ignore because I don’t quite know what to do with them. Some days it feels like it would be a lot easier to just keep living the way I am, even if the way I am isn’t the way I’m supposed to be.

But I can’t afford to avoid the painful pressure of the Bible any more than I could afford to keep going with an out-of-joint shoulder. If my nerves and blood vessels had stayed crimped, my whole arm would have had permanent damage. And letting my heart stay numb would mean cutting off the flow of life to my soul.

It’s true that 2 Corinthians 1:3 calls our loving Creator “the God of all comfort”, but it’s also true that comfort isn’t the same thing as ease. Staying in a place of ease, avoiding effort and strain, quickly leads to disease. We have to work for our health — push tired muscles, deny ourselves cravings, take necessary medicines, and sometimes even undergo surgery.

Attempting to dodge all pain eventually leads to a much deeper, more costly pain.

I find a whole lot of the Bible profoundly uncomfortable. But it’s a pain I’m desperate for. I remember being bound tight by my own self-importance, curled inward and unable to move the way I was meant to. I still ache in places that aren’t quite healed yet. My heart still bears scars from the wild scraping for freedom I couldn’t find on my own. I don’t want to ever go there again.

I’ve been laid out by the Healer, flayed open by His razor-edged Word, brought from frozen death to flaming life. And, oh, it hurts so much.

And I’m so very grateful to be able to feel.

So I will choose again and again to anchor my shifting-shadows soul to ancient truth. I choose to seize Scripture with both fists and hold on, to wrestle honestly when I don’t understand. I choose not to turn away when I’m offended or angry or convicted. I will know it for myself, dig into context and meaning, refuse to filter it through the opinions of pundits or political parties or preachers. I will memorize it and surround myself with people who will challenge me to incorporate it into every breath and beat. I will sit in its tension for however long it takes, let my questions rise, admit that I don’t know, while I still trust. I choose to give God room and time and permission to speak through words I believe He inspired, to drop my guard and my pride and my desire to tie up all the loose ends.

I choose the Bible, in all its uncomfortable fullness, because it saturates me with the richest light and life, brings me into the widest and deepest and highest freedom, and stuns my restless soul into stillness with the gentlest and most powerful beauty I’ve ever known.

Slowly, slowly God’s Spirit whispers His words of transformation to our hardened, decaying edges. Gently, quietly… painfully… He kneads us into pliable softness, turns our misshapen hearts right side out, and fills our desperate gasping with the air of eternity. The air we were born to breathe.

Beautiful, beautiful discomfort.

“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable(Hebrews 4:12-13, NLT).

1 Comment

  1. Shelly L.
    Jan 13, 2020

    I see you haven’t written anything in a while, but I wanted to let you know how deeply your writing touches my soul. This post especially speaks to me. Dealing with chronic pain and illness has forced me to ask myself everyday “what is the easiest path?” just to get through another day. While this is necessary in many respects, it sometimes has also become my excuse for disobedience, for moments of unkindness, and for avoiding leaving my comfort zone. God meant for us to do hard things so that we may be transformed.

    This post also brings to mind the story of Eustace and the pain he endured as Aslan was pulling and tearing the dragon skin off him…and the freedom he gained.

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