I was rather discouraged Monday night. You see, I've been studying the topic of divorce in the bible over the course of January. Even before I began my study, I knew there are wise and studied men on every side of the issue. Nevertheless, I wanted to be a faithful student of the Word and explore the topic on my own.
After 4 weeks, I formulated my understanding of God's message to us about marriage, divorce & remarriage. Then, I thought I'd talk to my husband and compare my learnings with what he has read on the subjects. I was excited to talk to him, because he too spent considerable time studying this as part of the elder board at church last fall.
Well, we stayed up to 1:33 and I feel more at a loss than I did on January 1st. It was late when we headed off to bed and so I was down-hearted at our inability to clearly understand all the passages involved. Individually, they seemed clear, and yet when pieced together, it was more difficult to understand God's way.
On one hand, I felt like my study time had been in vain, since I still had many questions about the issue. But on the other hand, I was grateful for the time to examine God's word. I think I've come to realize that I may not end up with the correct "answers" on some of these issues (cessassionism and specifically tongues is my topic for February), but I will still pursue God's truth in these areas.
John Piper encourages pastors to preach "hard texts" - not to shy away from them, in his book, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals. The same goes for us as laity. We must also study the "hard texts". I'm starting to think they are "hard" because of the "hardness" of our hearts. My prayer is that the time I spend on these "hard teachings" will be beneficial to my walk with God and that I'll get the practical guidance I need, even if my "position paper" is lacking.
Let me challenge you to do the same. Don't get too discouraged when you feel "lost" in understanding God's word. Persevere. Study anyway. Pray resolutely. He has included these passages for our benefit - even if it's simply the discipline of seeking His face in these matters. Press on and enjoy studying the harder teachings.