It begins as a low, steady hum before twisting to urgent whispers, growing louder, tugging for more attention: Go ahead, buy just one more item; slip into one more coffee shop; numb yourself on social media. You deserve to be happy.
So you go for it: tossing a few more pretty pillows into your Target cart, purchasing yet another latte, indulging in a greedy gaze of that glamorous Instagram account. Or you pack for a beach vacation, hoping it will revive your spirits and usher in the winds of peace — only to find yourself tired, beaten down, and spiritually parched. A stale barrenness remains lodged in the crevices of your soul.
Especially in seasons of sadness, loneliness, and stress, it’s tempting to turn to fleeting pleasures for comfort, isn’t it? I remember a time when life seemed crushing, and I was desperate for something to comfort me.
God, in his kindness, gave me the solution: a Bible-saturated life.
Lost at Home
Our family had moved 1,100 miles across the country, with four young children, and I was lost, treading in deep, swirling waters. Everything important to me as a woman felt unfamiliar: our neighborhood, our home, the grocery store, the pediatrician’s office, the church. Even after the boxes were unpacked, I remained unsettled.
Our 4-month-old daughter stopped sleeping with any measure of consistency, our 2-year-old son continually asked when we were going “home,” and our 6- and 8-year-old boys tiptoed into our bed during the pitch of night, craving security in the midst of upheaval.
While my husband went to work each day, I remained at home: comforting my children, filling sippy cups, homeschooling, and completing circular, unending chores.
I appeared calm and ordered, but inside I was crumbling. Exhaustion, loneliness, and hidden waves of sadness engulfed me. I pushed it down, prayed haphazardly, opened my Bible randomly, and told myself that God understood. A verse here or there would have to suffice in shoring up my soul.
It was a horribly broken system. And it was failing.
Then, one ordinary Friday, I packed up our children and journeyed to the library. My fingers traveled the book spines, desperately seeking something, and then paused on a book called The Pleasures of God.
I brought the book home, and during the children’s rest time began reading. Later, in the hush of night, after the dishwasher was emptied and the crumbs swept, I curled up on the sofa and read more. It did not take long: my brittle soul was watered as I was pulled back to the Bible — reading, rereading, and cross-referencing, awakened to truths that had always rested within arm’s reach. How could I have missed this?
Simple. I had not spent consistent time before the Lord (1 Samuel 12:24), with a quiet heart (Psalm 37:7), an open Bible (Psalm 119:18), and prayer (Isaiah 59:2).
As I began to unearth what makes God happy, reading verse by verse, chapter by chapter, Old Testament to New Testament, it was as if I had new eyes, seeing the magnificence of God through a kaleidoscope of unspeakable beauty. A new passion ignited within me: feast on Scripture every day, for all of life.
Reviving the Tired Soul
I can hear someone respond, “Just read more of the Bible and life will improve?” Perhaps you are doubtful.
Remember this: the Bible is not merely a book. As Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
Bible reading has become my treasure hunt as I grab hold of Hebrews 4:12, expecting that God will speak to me through every passage: convicting, teaching, and encouraging. Day by day, he awakens me to who he is and what he desires. Day by day, he brings his comfort to parts of my soul out of reach from every other.
“When we open God’s word, he speaks, moving and shifting our souls. To treasure the Bible is to fully live.”
When we open God’s word, he speaks, moving and shifting our souls. To treasure the Bible is to fully live. How tragic, then, to shelve your Bible until Sunday morning rolls around — or to settle for only a verse here or there.
Just this morning I delighted in the reminder of Psalm 19:7–11:
The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
Do our tired souls need reviving? Do our sad hearts need rejoicing? Do our dim eyes need enlightening? We will find it all in God’s word. No wonder David describes Scripture as more precious than gold and sweeter than honey. More precious, too, than any pillow we could buy — and sweeter than any latte.
Gifts, Not Substitutes
As women, we naturally crave beauty, relationships, and rest. These desires are not wrong: we are made in the image of God — a God who authored beauty in his creation, made us for relationships, and ordained us for Sabbath rest. God himself designed the physical, the touchable, the earthly. Beautifying our homes, longing for deep friendships, and retreating to relax with family are good gifts from a good God.
But when these longings become disordered, sneaking in and claiming preeminence, our lives begin to implode. Our desperate reaching is a sign that our soul isn’t well, a cue that our footsteps are on dead-end paths. Only God can satisfy our souls. When he is first, other pleasures fall into their fitting places. Do we enjoy them? Yes. But they no longer govern us. Our unchanging God does, through our yielding to his word.
“When troubles and uncertainties erupt, and they will, remember that there is no substitute for the Bible.”
Tend to your own soul by quieting your heart, opening your Bible, and listening. There are no shortcuts. Do whatever necessary: rising early, canceling subscriptions, saying no to the temporal. And when troubles and uncertainties erupt, and they will, remember that there is no substitute for the Bible. Seek comfort and instruction in God’s word, and listen to him speak.
Open Bible, Quiet Heart
Elisabeth Elliot famously said, “The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances” (Keep a Quiet Heart, 20).
My circumstances did not change for the better after our move all of those years ago: I was still in the same unsettled situation, and life was lonely. For four years, I remained rootless, at least from a worldly perspective. My husband’s ministry kept us traveling on Sunday mornings, so I did not have a singular church home and flourishing friendships. The busyness of raising and homeschooling four young children was a work I loved, yet it was a heavy burden to carry without a support group of mothers nearby. My closest friends and family were a thousand miles away. Although I became acquainted with a few neighbors on a surface level, deep and godly friendships during that time were absent.
Yet there was a holy purpose hidden in that season, one that I see clearly now, as God lovingly pried earthly comforts from my grasp, turning my lonely heart directly back to himself through immersion in his word. I learned to abide in the Bible and trust him.
My children are grown now, and life looks different. But one thing has not changed: my soul’s need for Bible-saturated living. This is a lifelong pursuit, not a one-and-done conquering.
Recently, that old familiar feeling crept back, tugging as fresh trials unfolded. I began to neglect communion with God, choosing to curl inward. Feeling spiritually parched and a little sad, I thought, What do I need? More time for me? More time to serve myself? A vacation? More understanding? A friend who “gets it?”
Nope. Just an open Bible, the life-giving Spirit, a quiet heart, and prayer.