Why is God Making Me Wait for a Husband or Wife?

As someone who has been single, married, and single again, I can tell you firsthand that your single years matter. A lot. Like the Apostle Paul, you need a clear vision of the mindset and purpose of your single years.

God’s Word has much to say about singleness. In fact, Scripture refers to singleness as a gift. But why would God give you a gift that you may not want? 

Simply this: what we want is not always what is best for us right now. And what’s best for us is not something we always value and appreciate when we have it. 

You are single today. That may change one day. But what can you value and appreciate about your singleness right now?

Biblical View

What God has to say about your season of singleness is intended to affect the way you live. How you operate. What you focus on. Here’s how Paul put it:

I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” 1 Corinthians 7:7-9

You may read that and determine that you fall squarely in the “burn with passion” category. Bring on the future spouse! And that’s perfectly fine. That longing to pair up for as long as you both shall live is Genesis 2 stuff! It’s a godly longing.

However, there is much more to marriage than a romantic relationship. Even though sex with your spouse may be the best thing you do on a given day, it will not be how you spend the vast majority of your time as a married couple. 

You are single now and God calls it a gift. Why?

Singleness is a Gift from God

If your single season has lingered for years, you may start to wonder if God’s way for your life got misplaced on His heavenly “to-do” list.

As a Christian, you believe that God’s plan is perfect. However, you may struggle between the desires of your heart and God’s timing. 

The longer that you remain single, you may start to resent the gift of singleness. Perhaps you have always wanted children. You want to start a family and simply get on with the rest of your life with your true love. So again, why would God ordain singleness? 

Paul directly answers that burning question: “I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 7:34b-35

Two specific reasons are given for your single years: (1) to promote good order, and (2) to secure an undivided devotion to the Lord. Let’s look closely at those reasons.

To Promote Good Order

The Amplified Version says it like this: “to promote what is appropriate.” Appropriate is defined as that which is suitable or fitting for a particular occasion. What is appropriate for your single years?

What is “appropriate” fits the context of a given circumstance. Inappropriate would be wearing a string bikini at a family Christmas dinner with grandma. Nothing wrong with bikinis, but it’s inappropriate in that circumstance’s context.

In your singleness, God wants to promote what is appropriate in your context and environment. Counseling couples regarding marriage problems when you have no real-life experience does not fit your life’s context. What is your environment according to Scripture? 

This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.” (1 Corinthians 7:29-31, ESV)

Your environment is a fallen world. God reminds us here that being single or married is not the main storyline of your life. Sharing the hope of Jesus is every believer’s main storyline.

God is on the move to seek and save the lost. God sent His one and only Son Jesus Christ to provide certain hope for eternal life with Him. And He will leverage every season of every believer to accomplish it — including your season of singleness.

To Secure Your Undivided Devotion to the Lord

Single women and single men have a unique purpose. This life season is the appropriate time to develop a strong relationship with Christ without distraction. As a beloved child of God with His Holy Spirit active inside of you means living in a different way. 

Have you spent significant time in prayer ascertaining God’s call on your life? Singleness offers more free time than any other group of people, regardless of age. 

Whether you are twenty or eighty, now is the perfect time to devote a significant part of your energy to serving the Lord.

The Dating Process

Head into dating understanding that it is a process. It is not a social media “status” that you sit in for endless years. Dating is intended to progress you through the next step to finding that life partner. 

Dreaming of marriage is a godly pursuit so diligence in finding a godly man or godly woman is vital. 

However, if you spend endless hours scrolling through online Christian singles dating sites or hours at the local bar, ask yourself: Am I as diligent in investing that much time and energy to seek an intimate relationship with the Son of God?

Dating is great, but dating is distracting. Looking for the right person means being very aware of how you look, smell, and sound to the opposite sex. 

It’s no wonder that churches long ago sat women on one side of the church and men on the other! It can be hard to worship God wholeheartedly when a cute possibility sitting next to you smells fantastic.

Only God Meets All of Your Needs

Our culture is far more concerned about a person’s relationship status than the state of a person’s soul. Just look at any social media channel. 

It is alarming when someone says, “I’m looking for someone to complete me and make me whole.” It is emotionally, mentally, and spiritually dangerous when we look for a prince or princess to do what our King can do.

But you may be asking, “Can’t I serve the Lord married? My spouse and I will seek after God together! Why do I have to be single?” 

As a single person, you have much more discretionary time than a married person. Your waiting period holds a high calling and the clock is ticking. As Paul said, singleness is intended to secure an undivided devotion to the Lord. So, is it different for men versus women?

The Single Woman

 “The unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband.” (1 Corinthians 7:34b)

There will be all kinds of things that please your husband that you have never had to worry or care about before that go beyond sexual intimacy. There may be a steep learning curve to manage his expectations. 

He may enter into marriage assuming that you will do certain things that his mom used to do for him, like cook a hot meal three times a day and keep a perpetually spotless home. He may expect you to be a financial co-earner, yet also be a PTA mom, carpool queen, and homework helper all while wearing high heels.

Marriage is great, but it can certainly be distracting. Paul reminds unmarried women to be anxious about things of the Lord without distraction. Your single season contains a significant purpose.

The Single Man

I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided.” (1 Corinthians 7:32-34a)

Similar to above, there will be all kinds of things that please your wife that you have never had to worry or care about that go beyond sexual intimacy. There may be a steep learning curve to manage her expectations, as well. 

She may enter into marriage assuming that you will provide financially like her father used to which allows for a certain lifestyle, like new cars, a big house, and exotic vacations. 

She may expect you to be the sole breadwinner while she remains at home with the children, yet also expects you to make time to attend all of your children’s sporting events, be home all weekend, and be consistently emotionally supportive.

Marriage is great, but it can certainly be distracting. Paul reminds unmarried men to be anxious about things of the Lord without distraction. Your single season contains a significant purpose.

It may sound like I am poo-pooing marriage. Not at all. I loved being married, sharing life, and cherishing that special someone. However, there is a tendency in every human being to devalue the benefits of their life stage and inflate the benefits of another. 

Don’t miss out on the benefits of your singleness that you will not have as a married person. Longing for something that God may or may not have ordained for your life is a thief of joy. 

Unique Benefits of Singleness

What you have now as a single person is freedom and time. Those are valuable resources that God gives to you in your singleness that will significantly decrease with marriage and parenting. So how will you leverage your freedom and time?

Being single again has allowed me the time to write a dozen Christian books and the freedom to travel the world to teach from Scripture. The vast majority of my discretionary time is spent studying God’s Word, researching for my next Bible study, and devoting significant prayer toward both.

A wonderful friend of over 25 years is nearing sixty years old and has remained single. Though she wanted to be married, she did not sit in a corner and mourn her life away. She is a smart professional and sold-out follower of Jesus who volunteers her free time to help others in various ways.

Your freedom has a purpose. Not to fill your time with distractions, but to pursue an undistracted devotion to the Lord.

What Defines Your Singleness?

Paul says that the unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. The unmarried woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. 

So the million-dollar question is simply this: Does that define your singleness?

As you take stock of how you spend your days and what you focus energy toward, is pursuing an undistracted devotion to the Lord at the top of your list?

If you find yourself frustrated in your singleness, you are missing the point of why you are single. It would be like playing golf without clubs. It’s confusing and doesn’t make sense. 

The most content single people I have ever met are the ones who understood that the purpose of their singleness was to secure an undistracted devotion to the Lord.

What Does Undistracted Devotion Look Like?

One of the daily practices that I have done for years is to write out books of the Bible. I type like the wind, think fast, and read fast, so I realized that the only way God’s Word would sink in past the blur was to slow down and handwrite books of the Bible a little bit at a time.

I also keep a journal. Even though daily events may slip in, the purpose of that journal is to reflect on what the Lord is teaching me. Where is He drawing my focus? What Bible passages does He keep bringing to mind? How do those things fit together? Where is He leading me?

I serve the Lord in my local congregation. Whether it’s teaching Bible class, serving refreshments as the need arises, attending women’s Bible classes, or partnering in mission work, God gives me great joy and fulfillment in the godly community of my church.

I carve out time to attend lectures at a local theological library. My podcast library is full of sermons by gifted teachers of God’s Word. My playlist is full of worship music that fuels my soul and prompts me to look up to the Lord.

I have been single again for thirteen years. I am more content, fulfilled, and at peace in the Lord than at any other time in my life bar none. 

I do not know if God has planned a happy marriage to a good Christian man for my future. But I know this beyond any shadow of doubt: if singleness defines the rest of my time on earth, it will be a rich blessing because I understand the purpose of my singleness.

Is Singleness More Spiritual?

The Apostle Paul offers this wisdom: “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Corinthians 7:8-9).

You may determine that you’re burning with passion and it is your heart’s desire to pursue marriage intently. Or you may determine that you want to serve the Lord without distraction for the rest of your life and are open to remaining single. Jesus said this to His disciples: 

The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it” (Matthew 19:10-12).

If God has called you to singleness, He will give you the grace to receive and endure it. Like Jesus. Like Paul. Like me.

If God has called you to marriage, He will give you the grace to receive and endure it. Like Peter. Like your parents.

God’s Love and Wisdom

It is vital to grasp the bigger picture of the kingdom of God: “And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

All things include your season of singleness. If you believe that the Bible is true and accurate, you know that your heavenly Father is the embodiment of love and wisdom. He only desires good things for you. He has called you for a purpose, whether single, married, widowed, or divorced.

You can trust anything that comes from God’s hand. That includes your singleness, your love life, and any future relationship. Whether or not God has a future marriage in store for you, His good reasons will bring about great things.

The Bottom Line

An honest assessment of your spiritual life may reveal that God needs to do serious work in you before bringing a future husband or future wife into the mix. If so, hit pause on the dating game. 

Take six months to get your relationship with God right first. Invest your freedom and time living Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

You may believe that your single season has dragged on far too long. Yet as a Christ follower, you know that God has your best interests in mind. 

Use this single season to develop an undistracted devotion to Him. That heavenly investment will significantly increase your life’s value.

Related Posts:

About the Author
Although Donna is a sought-after Bible teacher, her path from being unchurched to becoming passionate about sharing Jesus was not easy. Go here to read her God-breathed journey, “From Unchurched to Becoming a Multi-Published Author and Sought-After Speaker.” If you want to send Donna a quick message, then visit her contact page here.

{Some of these links are affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase through that link, the ministry may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!}

15 Best Inspiring Books for Christian Moms (Gift Ideas)

Mother’s Day is fast approaching. While it seems like we do a lot to remember moms on that day, what about the other 364 days of the year? 

Let’s face facts. Moms have a LOT going on. Some days your to-do list far exceeds your bandwidth and hours in the day. Who you look to for strength matters.

There are inspirational Bible verses that remind moms of the love of God. There are inspirational stories that point us to the Good News of eternal life. 

But what about those moms who still have kids at home and are struggling just to survive the day? When she turns off her nightstand light, her mind still races producing a sleepless night.

You need more than inspirational quotes, Christian stories, or social media comparisons. You need the steadfast love of the Lord and the grace of Christ Jesus to settle deep in your soul.

Moms Matter – a LOT

You can easily feel like you are simply a grocery store fetcher, mess-up cleaner, and carpool guru wondering where your personal life went. 

The beautiful sacrifice that you make is more than a momentary affliction. The powerful message of God’s love is working in you to become one of His role models to the next generation.

Perhaps it has been a long time since you even had time to read a book besides the Bible. Perhaps you are a Sunday school teacher who reads the Word of God to teach from instead of soaking in.

If you still have children at home you are still in the trenches. You can certainly use the encouragement of God’s grace! 

Whether you have a little boy or a little girl or several of each, you need encouragement that you are doing the good work God has called you to do. 

Photo by Alex Pasarelu on Unsplash

Moms are Cultural Influencers

You have a vital influential role in our culture as you nurture and raise the next generation of leaders for our country and in the Church.

Here are 15 inspiring and encouraging books for Christian moms, in no particular order. And although I am not a mom, my three sisters and the vast majority of my friends have children of all ages. 

As a Christian writer, I am connected with many gifted writers. And most of them have children.

These are the book titles that they have mentioned to me over the years. They found them to be especially uplifting, encouraging or provided a new perspective in their crucial role as a mom.

Any one of these books would be the perfect gift for a special mom in your life (or even yourself) who could use biblical truths and encouragement from the God of hope on Mother’s Day. Here goes!

Pressing Pause

Whether you’re juggling a career, kids’ schedules, and church commitments or you’re covered in spit-up and anxious about what the next eighteen years might hold, you can carve out a few quiet moments to rejuvenate your spirit.

Pressing Pause: 100 Quiet Moments for Moms to Meet With Jesus focuses on moms who want to approach their lives today with a positive mindset and develop a closer relationship with God.

SNIPPET: Kids bickering? Schedule jam-packed? Dishes and laundry both piled up high? Perhaps it’s time you pressed pause and took a moment for yourself.

This book offers you a calm way to start your day, refresh yourself in Jesus, and drink deeply of His presence so that you are ready to pour out love, time, and energy into the people who matter most to you.


This book is for moms who love their children to the depths of their souls but who have also curled up under their covers, fighting back tears, and begging God for help.

Whether you are struggling through a difficult time or difficult situation, the love of Christ woven in your work of the Lord still wins.

Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe offers the story of one young mother’s honest account of the desperate feelings experienced in motherhood forged in the trenches of raising her four children.

Beyond great stories, she focuses on the greater love of God shining through your Christian faith.

SNIPPET: Whether you are a first-time mom or an experienced mom, this book will inspire you to be a part of the no-more-desperate-moms movement.

There are Bible study and journal exercises in each chapter that identify ways to grow as a mom, as well as mentoring for real-life situations.

Risen Motherhood

The authors began talking about motherhood on their podcast. They took some of that content and turned it into a book. 

Risen Motherhood is a wonderful resource for moms who still have kids under the age of 5. 

SNIPPET: You might think that Scripture doesn’t have much to say about the food you make for breakfast, how you view your postpartum body, or what school choice you make for your children.

But a deeper look reveals that the Bible provides the framework for finding answers to your specific questions about modern motherhood. We live in a world of five-step lists and silver-bullet solutions to becoming perfect parents.

If you feel pulled between high-fives and hard words, with culture’s solutions only raising more questions, you’re not alone.

The End of Me

This book does not pretend that motherhood is not hard. It offers honesty about the deeply challenging aspects of motherhood and how God works through them to make us more like his Son through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The End of Me offers encouragement to lean into and rely on the Lord’s strength when you reach your limitsphysically, mentally, and spiritually.

You will find that God will supply everything needed to cope with the daily sacrifices and challenges of motherhood to make you more like Christ.

SNIPPET: Coming to the end of who I was, and what motherhood was stripping me of, was a good thing that drove me to Christ and to the power that he supplies in every failure and weakness of motherhood.

This short, easy-to-read book encourages mothers to depend on Christ when they reach their limits. 

The Warrior We Call Mom

This book shows the connection between spiritual warfare and your role as a mother in order for your kids to experience an awakening of their own. 

The Warrior We Call Mom is a passionate call for moms to break out of the box of normal and dare to be led by the Spirit in their day-to-day parenting. 

SNIPPET: There is a spiritual war raging against the next generation. We look at biblical examples, including the mothers of Jesus, John the Baptist, Samuel, Moses, and Samson to empower mothers today.

The heart of a mother is to see her child serve God with passion, and this book will be the catalyst for that revival.

Walking With God in the Season of Motherhood

This is an 11-week devotional Bible study that moms with kids of any age can do by themselves or with others. It conveys how God’s imprint on a mom’s heart can make a lasting impression on their children. 

Walking With God in the Season of Motherhood teaches how to nourish your own heart, mind, and soul with the wisdom you need to become the mother you long to be.

SNIPPET: Each week offers four days of study geared specifically to a mother’s concerns, with the Bible passages already printed out for your convenience. The fifth day is a warm-hearted devotional reading to help you reflect on and apply the truths you’ve learned.

As your relationship with God deepens through prayer and studying His Word, you’ll discover how His imprint on your heart can make a lasting impression on your children.

10 Gifts of Heart

Written from the author’s 30+ years of motherhood, this book shares biblical wisdom and practical insights with mothers who want their children to grow into God’s plan in their daily lives.

10 Gifts of Heart: What Your Child Needs to Take Heart Before Leaving Home is filled with personal examples, engaging stories, practical suggestions, and heartfelt encouragement for moms in the thick of raising children. 

SNIPPET: Every parent wants their child to grow into a gracious and competent adult. Faith, character, manners, initiative, and gratitude that children need to take to heart before they leave home.

Yet parents today do not always have a clear vision for how to cultivate those traits. What does it look like for a mother to train her child’s heart to excellence and goodness?

A Mother’s Heart

Although this book was written in 1996, many women still mention it to moms who are in the early years of motherhood. It provides an inspiring look at motherhood from a Biblical perspective.

A Mother’s Heart looks at the values, vision, and character of the Christian mother as a “Pilgrimage Growth Guide.” It is perfect for the new stay-at-home mom or for veteran moms who want to re-envision what God called them to as mothers.

SNIPPET: Overwhelmed by the stress of parenting? This book reveals to women what it means to be a godly mother and offers encouragement to moms of all ages and backgrounds.

This book shows women how to distinguish between their role and God’s role in raising children. It explains how to take a spiritual inventory of a child’s life and how to pray effectively for children. 

Introverted Mom

Whether you’ve just realized you’re an introvert, or if you’ve known it all along, this book is for you. When the volume of family life clashes with your personality, frustration, guilt, and feeling overwhelmed naturally result. 

Introverted Mom offers vulnerable stories from the author’s own life as well as thoughts from other introverted mothers, letting you know you’re not alone.

It also includes valuable insights from four beloved writers: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, and L. M. Montgomery. 

SNIPPET: Life as Mom is LOUD, but you long for quiet. The author lifts the burden from your shoulders, reminding you that your steady strength is exactly what your family needs in this chaotic world.

It’s time to honor who you are and savor life as an introverted mom.

Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full

This book is great for moms of babies because each section can be easily read in just a few minutes. Motherhood is tough, and it often feels like the to-do list just gets longer and longer every day―making it hard to experience true joy in God, our children, and the Gospel.

Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full is comprised of helpful, short Gospel meditations for frazzled moms to reorient their vision of motherhood around what the Bible teaches.

SNIPPET: This encouraging book shows how to pursue a vibrant relationship with God even when discouragement sets in and the laundry still needs to be washed. This book will help you treasure Christ more deeply no matter how busy you are.

Devoted: Great Men and Their Godly Moms

This book is a fascinating historical look at the moms of famous men. This would be a great gift for a boy mom.

Devoted: Great Men and Their Godly Moms reveal women who were great theologians and Christ followers in their own right, yet whose only students were their own children.

 SNIPPET: Raising children to honor and glorify the Lord is the goal of every Christian mother, but how can you do that? Who can teach you?

One of the best ways to learn is to read examples of women who have succeeded at the very task you are attempting. We will learn together of Christian men and their godly moms, mothers who were used to shape the men who changed the world.

Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World

This book shares the author’s ups and downs in her own family’s journey of discovering why it’s healthiest not to give their kids everything. 

Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World reinforces the importance of teaching children the difference between “want” and “need” in a comparison-driven culture.

SNIPPET: It’s never too late to raise grateful kids. Learn how to cultivate a spirit of genuine appreciation and create a Jesus-centered home in which your kids don’t just say―but mean!―“thank you” for everything they have.

Humble Moms

This book zooms in on those moms who struggle with serving their children with their industrious hands, but their exhausted hearts have switched to auto-pilot.

Humble Moms: How the Work of Christ Sustains the Work of Motherhood reaches down deep to encourage exhausted moms with life-giving meditations on Jesus.

SNIPPET: As you journey through the life and work of Christ, you’ll find that your life and work as a mom are sustained in the process.

It is truly possible for moms to have hands and hearts that look like Jesus. Take in all that Christ is for you—and you’ll find that His heart and posture are changing yours.

Expect Something Beautiful

This book offers a renewed vision of motherhood: to see afresh God’s good purpose for you as a mother, a woman, and a follower of Christ.

Expect Something Beautiful: Finding God’s Good Gifts in Motherhood encourages moms to expect something more out of motherhood—something truly beautiful. 

SNIPPET: Are you pouring out your life for God and others while getting little in return except for the consolation that you’ve done the right thing?

This book helps you see that behind all the giving that mothers do is the receiving of something special—a profound growth in God that is cultivated through motherhood’s everyday ups and downs.

Missional Motherhood

This book seeks to encourage moms on how to care for their children’s spiritual needs as well as their physical care. 

Missional Motherhood: The Everyday Ministry of Motherhood and the Grand Plan of God dives past the routine tasks of motherhood to see God’s eternal purpose.

SNIPPET: There’s no such thing as “just” a mom. Despite the routine tasks and mundane to-do lists, motherhood is anything but insignificant.

God has designed motherhood as part of His greater plan to draw people to Himself―instilling all women, whether called to traditional mothering or not, with an eternal purpose in nurturing others.

The Bottom Line

Looking around at the state of the world, moms have a greater challenge than ever in raising godly children. Culture, social media, and the influence of friends have much to say about how children live. 

But those influencers usually do not line up with what God holds as important. Encourage the moms in your life today with one or more of these books to encourage them in the battle.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Related Posts:

About the Author

Although Donna is a sought-after Bible teacher, her path from being unchurched to being passionate about sharing Jesus was not easy. Go here to read her God-breathed journey, “From Unchurched to Becoming a Multi-Published Author and Sought-After Speaker.” If you want to send Donna a quick message, then visit her contact page here.

{Some of these links are affiliate links. The ministry may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through that link.}

RELEASE DAY! Meant for Good: A Study of Joseph

My brand new Bible study through Concordia Publishing House releases TODAY: Meant For Good: A Study of Joseph. LET THE PRAISES RING!

Similar to the depth of my Esther study, this Bible study goes deep into the life of Joseph in the Book of Genesis. Joseph’s biography occupies more space in Genesis than those of Adam, Noah, Abraham, or even his own father, Jacob. Although that should be reason enough to study Joseph’s incredible journey, he experiences family conflict and unfair treatment that many of us can relate to today.

The Story

The story begins with Joseph in the land of Canaan as a seventeen-year-old dreamer—literally. As one of two sons born to Jacob’s favorite wife Rachel, favoritism plays a significant role in the story of Joseph. After all, Jacob had been his mother’s favorite.

In Jacob’s eyes, his son Joseph was the favorite even though he was not the oldest son. Joseph had ten older brothers and one younger brother. Sadly, Joseph’s mother Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin, the youngest son.

God gave Joseph the extraordinary gift of interpreting dreams. However, Joseph had not yet mastered the art of tact, timing, or knowing his audience. When he tells his brothers that one day they will bow to him, it becomes clear that even though Joseph’s gift was intact, he was not able to read a room.

One day, Jacob sends Joseph to check on his brothers who are tending their flocks far away. But Joseph never makes it back home.

The 20-Year Saga

The brothers accost Joseph, strip him of his many-colored coat, and throw him into a waterless pit. They ignore his cries, decide to leave him in the pit to die, and sit down to enjoy lunch together. Then Judah offers up a Plan B to make some extra cash instead.

Then Jacob’s sons (all except Benjamin) agree to pull Joseph out of the pit and sell him to Midianite traders for twenty pieces of silver. They return to their father Jacob and promptly lie about what happened.

Pause a moment. Can you imagine what Joseph is feeling? He is rescued from the pit (yay!) only to be sold for money (what?) by his very own flesh and blood.

The Midianites take Joseph to the land of Egypt. Then Joseph is sold to Potiphar, who holds a significant position in Pharaoh’s Egyptian court, to work as a slave.

As Joseph works diligently in Potiphar’s home, Potiphar’s wife takes notice of Joseph and tries to entice Joseph into sleeping with her. He flees from temptation and her repeated offers, only to be falsely accused and thrown into prison.

Spiritual Bootcamp

And so begins Joseph’s spiritual boot camp which lasted more than twenty years. The amazing truth about God’s spiritual boot camps (basically, our whole life) is that He never leaves us. Ever. God’s faithfulness to us never wavers.

During those twenty years, Joseph oversees Potiphar’s home, eventually oversees the prison into which he was thrown, and interprets four additional dreams along the way. The whole time, the God of Abraham is working in Joseph’s life. Molding. Shaping. Preparing.

Even though Joseph’s brothers stripped him of his coat, they could not strip him of his godly character.

Egypt’s Second in Command

After interpreting Pharaoh’s two confusing dreams, Pharaoh elevates Joseph to the position of second in command over Egypt. In addition, God populated the house of Joseph with a wife and children. A new family. Even though Joseph was far from home, God blessed him in what Joseph referred to as “the land of my affliction.”

Eventually, all of Egypt understood that Joseph’s elevation to prominence was a good thing. Joseph’s diligence and excellent administrative skills successfully navigate Egypt through seven years of famine. His industrious, tireless work ended up providing a multitude of nations with food during the devastating famine.


Joseph could have easily leveraged his powerful position to retaliate against his older brothers. He could have blamed them for stealing the life he had planned. He could have allowed hate and bitterness to take root in his heart. Instead, Joseph forgave wholeheartedly and embraced reconciliation.

We behold the Gospel story woven like a scarlet thread throughout Joseph’s narrative. The struggles that Joseph endured remind us how vital it is to let God’s love and forgiveness lead us.

Joseph’s story is not a rags-to-riches phenomenon. It is a picture of relentless, God-honoring faith. If you struggle with forgiveness, I wrote an entire Bible study on it here.

For All the History Buffs

If you are a history buff like me, you will devour the historical smorgasbord in Bible study. My previous study on Esther unearthed the nuances and culture of the Persian empire. With Joseph, we dive headlong into ancient Egypt. (Cue the singing of “Walk Like an Egyptian.”)

The study narrows down which pharaoh Joseph would have served under, which then provides the kind of work and tasks Joseph would have performed as vizier (prime minister). Fascinating!

Ancient Egypt

Originally starting out as several independent cities along the Nile River, Egypt was formed from an Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt, which unified around 3100 BC. Egypt was one the largest kingdoms of the ancient world and led the charge regarding cultural and economic influence until it was conquered in 332 B.C. by the Macedonians.

Joseph’s story takes place during the historical time of unified Egypt, which was considered to be one of Egypt’s greatest eras. 

Egypt’s Pharaohs

We also study the historical timeline and Egyptian lineage particular to Joseph’s story. We peek into the fascinating world of Egyptian pharaohs. This study pinpoints the precise pharaoh that Joseph would have served under according to historical fact.

This allows us the rare opportunity to discover what that pharaoh focused on and his geopolitical agenda. Consequently, we can ascertain some of the historical responsibilities that Joseph would have been responsible for under that pharaoh’s reign.

Joseph’s Lineage

As one of the sons of Jacob, Joseph’s brothers and Joseph’s sons eventually comprise the twelve tribes of Israel. Joseph did not have his own tribe. There is no tribe of Joseph. However, the sons of Joseph – Ephraim and Manasseh – form the twelfth tribe together as a double portion of God’s blessing to Joseph.

Joseph’s Christ-Like Qualities

In Joseph, we see Christ-like qualities almost unparalleled in the Old Testament (in my opinion). Regardless of his circumstances, Joseph never wavered from following the Lord. He was a diligent worker, faithful witness, and capable administrator.

Joseph’s example issues a challenge even today: Will we choose to become victims of our circumstances and give up or will we trust God to bring beauty from ashes and excel?

Even though God would use Joseph mightily, the learning process was long. That same truth applies to us. It may be a long time before God deems us ready for the tasks He has planned for us. I could not have written in-depth Bible studies twenty years ago. God’s instruction over time has produced a much better vintage.

Purpose for Our Pain

Joseph could have given in to bitterness. Easily. Who would blame him? Yet he responded to broken dreams and difficult circumstances with a strong faith that propelled him from the pit of slavery to the pinnacle of power.

God Almighty diligently prepared Joseph to help Egypt’s great nation survive utter destruction. But that preparation did not come in a safe classroom. Joseph learned and honed his extraordinary administrative gifts in two places he never thought he would be—in slavery and in prison.

We may not be able to see how God is preparing us during our difficult times, but rest assured there is a holy purpose for our pain.

The Bottom Line

Even though Joseph experienced extraordinary hurt and adversity, God’s promise to be with him remained faithful. Joseph endured jealousy and sibling rivalry in his father’s household. He survived mistreatment and a murderous plot by his older brothers. He was thrown into prison for resisting temptation. He could have easily allowed his woes to become his focus.

Instead, Joseph looked up and trusted God. And because of the great faith that God instilled in Joseph, a multitude of people would owe Joseph their lives—literally.

Can you relate to waterless pits and unfairness in your life? This new Bible study is uniquely relevant to our current times.

God uses Joseph’s journey to provide invaluable insights regarding how to live wise, bold journeys of faith—fully trusting Him every single day. May God grant you and me such tenacious faith in Christ Jesus our Lord.

You can order “Meant for Good” right here.

Meant for Good: A Study of Joseph

How to Rebind Your Bible (DIY Easy Steps)

If a Bible sits handily on your coffee table or tucked on a bookshelf, chances are it is one of the most read and precious books in your library. You may even have several copies or versions of the Bible. But don’t you have a favorite? What does it take to rebind your Bible?

Table of Contents

The best starting place to rebind your Bible is to assess its condition and what needs to be replaced. This is important so that all of the right supplies are handy the moment you get started. 

My Favorite Bible

My favorite Bible is about three decades old: a Thompson Chain Reference Bible. That old Bible holds precious notes from one of the most significant spiritual growth seasons of my Christian journey. It is truly precious.

About ten years ago, the original cover began to separate from the binding. I grabbed some pink duct tape and taped it back together right smack through the book of Amos. And then added a pink duct tape simple cross on the cover. Stylish, right? Not the most beautiful restoration work, to say the least.

My 30+ year old Thompson Chain Reference Bible

I still use that Bible with the duct-taped old cover almost daily, but it no longer leaves my home. I have a more compact Bible that I take to church. Study Bibles that I use in Bible class. And even a small Bible when I travel to teach from Scripture. But now I want to rebind that precious Bible.

If you are doing some heavy turning of those thin pages in your Bible (a wonderful discipline), it’s no surprise that even a well-bound Bible will show its share of wear and tear. However, commissioning a Bible rebinding company to professionally repair it with a premium Bible cover can get costly.

What Are Your Options?

Now that you have determined that the binding is breaking down, you have three options to choose from. First, you can just ignore it — like an ostrich with its head in the sand, so to speak. You just keep reading your Bible until it becomes almost unreadable and then decide what to do.

Second, you can go ahead and replace your current Bible immediately, which you would have had to do even if you had let it fall apart completely. There are affordable paperback editions out there, but those are usually made with cut-rate material and do not last long. And a new Bible with a hardcover — in fact, most hardcover books — can get expensive.

Third, you can download an e-book edition if you’re willing to read Scripture on an e-reader device or tablet. I have downloaded free Bible apps to refer to on the road rather than incurring the additional charge of an e-book. However, I prefer to hold a physical book and make notes in my own Bible. The last time Moses carried a tablet, his hair went gray. Just saying.

Maybe your favorite Bible is a family heirloom that you want to last for years and years of service. You inherited a loved one’s personal Bible, and had hoped to pass it along to your child, one of their children, and so on down the line.

So rather than replace your Bible outright, why not repair it to give it a new life? It is not as hard as you might think. In fact, you can purchase complete Bible rebinding kits that include all the supplies you need.

Rebinding your Bible to make it look and read like new will allow you to preserve a treasured heirloom and continue to enjoy it with peace of mind. And almost anyone can do a great job on minor repairs.

Keep or Replace the Cover?

Here is a step-by-step guideline that you can follow. The first step is to remove the cover. The cover of a Bible can be almost as important to its owner as the text within. While your binding may be failing, the cover may still be intact.

You can certainly improve your Bible’s cover with genuine leather, imitation leather, or even lamb skin, but many people who rebind their books prefer to keep the original covers. Use a dull knife, bone folder, or other such instruments to gently pry the binding from the cover.

If you intend to replace the cover as part of your project, make sure to take proper measurements (including the width of the spine) to ensure that it will fit the book block identically. If there is an additional leather liner, be sure to measure that as well.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Realign the Book Block

The collected pages of a book are called a book block. If the failing binding has compromised the integrity of the spine causing detached pages within your Bible, hopefully, you have saved those loose pages to reincorporate during the Bible repair process.

Gather these pages and make sure that they are all present and in the correct order. I mean, you don’t want one of the Gospels sneaking between Genesis and Exodus. Once in order, use tools or many taps on a hard surface to align the pages perfectly flush.

Photo by Kiwihug on Unsplash

Remove the Old Glue

It’s simply a reality: adhesive substances such as glue and tape lose their stickiness over time. In dealing with an older edition of the Bible, chances are the glue in the spine has grown quite dry and crumbly since its initial binding.

As you restore the needed integrity of your Bible’s spine, the integrity of the new treatment depends on removing as much of the old treatment as possible. Kind of like dusting a surface before painting it. A utility knife comes in handy to scrape off any remaining glue, which at this point should not put up much of a fight.

Clipped from this YouTube video.

Apply Book Repair Tape

Quality book repair tape will restore even the widest spines back to full strength. As technology and chemistry advance, longer-lasting alternatives to book-binding glue are available. However, the tape takes the place of glue and spine cloth that are prone to breaking down over the years.

Not only is tape a stronger choice, but it’s also less work than building a new spine and trying to glue it into place. Firmly anchor your book between two flat and heavy objects such as bricks, spine-side-up, and carefully apply your book repair tape to the spine of the book block.

Reset the Cover

If you chose to keep your cover, carefully put it back into place beginning at the spine. An important note: if your cover is made of real leather, do not protect it with a Mylar cover. This will trap moisture between the cover and its protection. Over time, that trapped moisture will degrade the leather and eventually necessitate the outright replacement you are working to avoid.

If you are not able to salvage the cover of your Bible, you will need to build a new cover with cardboard for the front cover, back cover, and spine, as well as linen or leather for the exterior rebinding process.

Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

Repair Option for the Non-DIYer

While rebinding a Bible (or any book) might be an intuitive process for many reading enthusiasts, the care and precision required for rebinding are not for everyone.

If you don’t trust yourself to tackle the rebinding of a treasured family Bible on your own, you can find professional Bible restoration services that will take care of this task on your behalf.

You may even know someone who does rebinding work of the highest quality as a side business. You can certainly requisition a custom Bible cover to be made with custom leather, as well. The options are nearly limitless.

Photo by Nicolas Hoizey on Unsplash

Bottom Line

Hopefully, with this information and the right supplies, you will soon find yourself in possession of a good-as-new Holy Bible courtesy of your own two hands. I also found that YouTube has many videos that can guide you along the way.

While rebinding your Bible to make it look like new can be hard work, the work is worth it in order to preserve a beautiful heirloom. You do not have to be content allowing the ravages of time to get in the way of passing your Bible on through multiple generations.

If you enjoy restoring your Bible, and it is not the only antique book in your library, you can apply these same principles to any well-worn, much-loved book in your collection. Happy rebinding!

Related Posts:

About the Author
Although Donna is a sought-after Bible teacher, her path from being unchurched to becoming passionate about sharing Jesus was not easy. Go here to read her God-breathed journey, “From Unchurched to Becoming a Multi-Published Author and Sought-After Speaker.” If you want to send Donna a quick message, then visit her contact page here.

{Some of these links are affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase through that link, the ministry may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!}

25 Lenten Prayers and Reflections (2023 Season)

Many people ask: What is the significance of Lent?

Lent is a 40-day season of prayer, fasting, confession, and repentance that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at sundown on Maundy (Holy) Thursday. It’s a period of preparation to celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter. 

Lent in the Church

Early in the Church’s history – in the United States and beyond – the major events in Christ’s life were observed with special observances, such as His birth, baptism, death, resurrection, and ascension.

As these observances developed, a period of time was set aside prior to the major events of Jesus’ birth and resurrection as a time of preparation.

During Lent, the Church’s worship assumes a more penitential character. The color for the season is purple, a color often associated with penitence. The “Hymn of Praise” is omitted from the liturgy. The word “Alleluia” is usually omitted as well.

By not using the alleluia — a joyful expression meaning “Praise the Lord” — until Easter, the Lenten season is clearly set apart as a distinct time from the rest of the year. Additionally, it forms a powerful contrast with the festive celebration of Jesus’ resurrection when our alleluias ring loud and clear.

Lent Begins on Ash Wednesday

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. As we prepare to walk through the next forty days of Lent, here are 25 prompts for prayers of confession, thoughts to set our minds in the right place, words of assurance, and time of confession. May these bless you as you, through the power of the Holy Spirit, draw close to Christ Jesus with your whole heart over the next forty days.

25 Prompts for Prayer and Confession

1. In the season of Lent, as I prepare to receive the Easter gift of resurrection, I am invited on a journey. I am invited to walk a path of introspection and reflection, acknowledging both the shadows and light of my life. Trusting in the grace of God, and before one another, and let me admit my own sin.

Prayer: Holy God, You know me better than I know myself, and You see me more clearly. How impossible it seems that I could ever hide anything from You, or even try to hide such things; but I do. Sometimes I pretend to be better than I am. I do things I know will hurt others and act as though I am blameless. But I am not. I am complicit, and I am guilty, and I am broken. So I ask for Your forgiveness, because You love me more than I can imagine, and You make me whole beyond my wildest dreams. This I ask in the name of Jesus, who came to show me the way. Amen.

2. New every morning is God’s love for me, and so new each day is my opportunity to ask Him to clean the slate, to make my confession with a willing spirit, and to be assured of God’s forgiveness and love. On this new day, I come to God in prayer.

Prayer: O Lord, I know that You are as close as my next breath, and at the same time it feels as if there is a great distance between us. That distance is sometimes a tragedy when I feel abandoned. That distance is sometimes a force of evil when something conspires against me. That distance is sometimes my foolish choices or my selfish acts, or the hurt I cause another. I seek Your forgiveness. So assure me of Your closeness, Your power, Your mercy, and Your ability to change my life for the good. In Your great mercy, Amen.

3. In the beauty of this space, in this sacred moment, in the fellowship I have with the God of creation, I speak with Him about my life, about how I have followed and how I have faltered. Trusting in God’s grace and mercy, I pray this confession.

Prayer: Merciful God, I claim that You sent Jesus to take away the sin of the world. I am part of that sin. Help me not to acknowledge that I do things that hurt other people, the creation, mankind, and You. Come into my heart, Lord God, and give me strength and courage to be less hurtful and more loving. These things I pray in the name of Jesus, who showed me how this is done. Amen.

4. Prayer: Merciful and loving God: when I am ungrateful, remind me of Your grace. When I am oblivious, open my eyes. When I am harsh, gentle my spirit. When I am apathetic, show me Your suffering children. When I demean myself, whisper that I am created in Your image. When I lose all hope, show me the empty tomb. Renew a right spirit within me. Shape me and turn me around, so that I will live with blessing and grace and light. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

5. Prayer: God of mercy and love, I know that sometimes I allow myself to be distracted by things that really don’t matter all that much. I would rather pursue intellectual arguments than live the Gospel. I would rather debate my equals than defend the vulnerable. I prefer to think about You instead of getting to know You. Help me, O Christ. Help me to discern what matters to You and to the vulnerable You call me to help. Help me to open up my heart, wide in love and grace, and so be a living example of your Good News. In Christ, I pray. Amen.

6. I come before God in silence and in prayer, to open my heart to my Creator, the One who heals, loves, and forgives.

Prayer: Merciful God, hear my prayer. When I am down and out, or too weary to do anything else, I do not offer kindness as often as I might. I admit that I do not add beauty to the world apart from You. I pay lip service to the cries of others and sit idly by until the sound fades. Sometimes I get it right, and sometimes I don’t. I ask for Your mercy and grace, and I ask for Your help, to give me courage and strength to live as You would have me live. In the name of Jesus Christ, who gave me those qualities and who taught me all I need to know, I pray. Amen.

7. Maybe it’s easier to understand sin as separation: separation from God, separation from others, separation from my identity in Christ. In the midst of separation, God walks toward me, inviting me to walk toward Him. In prayer, let me seek God’s grace.

Prayer: Holy God, I wander off. I am distracted by shiny things, and I get lost. Merciful God, You come to find me. Lost and afraid, I become stubborn and intractable. Loving God, You pick me up and brush me off and take me home. You are the light of the world, so give me eyes past this present darkness. I will wander again, but for the moment, I am safe and forgiven. And so I thank you. Amen.

8. Life is full – full of good things and full of hard things. I work to cope with the easy and with the sad, and sometimes as I try to manage all that life hands me, I ignore the pain of someone else, the struggle of another. God calls me to see it all, and to help when I can. Aware of my shortcomings and confident in God’s grace, let me make my confession.

Prayer: Holy God, I am an imperfect person and I need Your love. Forgive me when I ignore Your children who cry out in distress. Forgive me when I choose not to see those who remind me too much of myself. Forgive me when I put rules ahead of people, and choose legality over kindness and judgment that lacks mercy. Enable me to see as You see, the wide vistas open to the possibility of compassion and grace. O God, hear my prayer. Amen.

9. Prayer: Almighty God, You know me. You know my heart, You know my thoughts, You know my actions and human nature. You know my successes and my failures, that which commends me and that which condemns me. I know ourselves, too; I know the good I have done, and I know how I have fallen short. I would know you better so that the burden of sin would not weigh me down. I would know you better so that the freedom of your mercy would enable me to fly. Forgive my sins, and restore me to wholeness, I pray. Amen.

10. Prayer: Holy God, hear my prayer. As I walk this spiritual life, I relentlessly question You. You heal someone’s beloved, and I ask, “Why not this one too?” You shower food upon some who hunger, and I complain that my stomach is growling. Forgive me. Forgive me for my doubts and my limited sight. Open wide before me the expanse of Your grace, the embrace of Your love, and the wonder of Your healing power. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.

11. Prayer based on Psalm 8: Great God of all creation, who am I that you are mindful of me? You who set the stars in motion, who launched waves crashing against the shore, who knows the heights and depths of the world. Why do you bother with me? You count the hairs on my head and call me each by name. You give me Your wisdom and You uphold me by Your Spirit. You tend to me and care for me, and I do not understand why. I cannot grasp Your love for me, O God, for it is unlike me to be that loving and forgiving. Remind me once again of the sacredness of my ordinary, day-to-day life. By your Spirit, teach me to live truly as beings little lower than angels. In your mercy, O God, forgive who I am and bless who I will be. I pray in the peace of Christ. Amen.

12. Prayer: Holy God, hear my prayer. There is pain and there is sorrow, there are broken relationships and broken hearts. Sometimes I am the cause of those things. I have caused pain. I have broken the relationship. Sometimes I am simply a part of them – I am the one who suffers, I am the one who is broken. So I ask for Your forgiveness, and I ask for Your healing. Beyond that, I ask that You turn me from my former self to a person who reflects Your mercy and grace and love. Through Christ, who is my example, I pray. Amen.

13. Prayer: O God, when I look at You and then look at myself, I realize how tiny I am. But I am not so small that my actions are inconsequential. Sometimes a word of thanks brings warmth to a cold heart. Sometimes a choice to forgive opens up a new future for two people. Sometimes a thoughtless gesture slashes the heart. Sometimes my inaction leaves the world in its sorry state. I ask for your help. I ask that Your greatness infuse my smallness. I ask that I will not be captive to the wrong I do but changed by the mercy You grant. Amen.

14. Prayer: Holy God, I carry the burdens of words spoken that I wish I had not; of acts done in anger or pride that I wish I could undo. I hold grudges for a long time, and I do not reconcile with those from whom I am estranged. Forgive me. Forgive those words and deeds and inactions that cause You and others sorrow. Restore me, renew me, and give me the strength, courage, and love I need to be Your gracious child and effective witness. Amen.

15. In the midst of my sorrows and guilt, my doubt and regrets, I am bathed in light and beauty that comes from God. Trusting Your love for me, let me make my confession.

Prayer: God of love and mystery, make me whole. Heal the wounds I carry in me, and heal the wounds I have created in others. Make me strong in the broken places, that I will know of what I speak when I offer mercy and hope. Forgive me, and enable me to forgive in that same way. God of love and mystery, make me whole, through your Son Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.

16. I have come this morning with full hearts – hearts that carry sorrow, worry, and guilt. In this time I offer my heart to God, remembering Christ’s invitation that all who are weary and carrying heavy burdens may come to Him. Trusting in that love, let me make my confession.

Prayer: Holy God, I offer You my life. That the good I have done will build up Your children, and not my own ego. That the harm I have caused will lead me to confession and atonement. That the anxiety that eats at me will be transformed into trust. That the hope You give will multiply and leaven the world like yeast. Righteous God, hear me, forgive me, reshape me, and love me, I pray. Amen.

17. Prayer: Holy God, I admit to You that all is not right – in my heart and in my world, I look to the darkness and not to the light. I look for what is broken, and not at what is being mended. I look to criticize and not to praise. I look at myself and not at You. Turn me around so that I look at the possibility, at hope, at promise, at grace, at healing, at Your love. This I pray in the strong name of Jesus. Amen.

18. Prayer: Holy God, remind me that I am loved when I find myself unlovable. Remind me that there is hope when all I see around me causes despair. Remind me that You sent the Prince of Peace when war and violence threaten. Remind me that You are the merciful judge when injustice seems to prevail. Remind me that You give me all I need to do Your work in the world. Remind me that You give me grace so that I can be graceful to others. I confess my doubt and trust in Your love. Amen.

19. The call to confession is always a call to experience God’s mercy. In admitting the truth of my love to my loving Creator, I open myself to the experience of grace and healing. Trusting in that divine love, let me pray.

Prayer: Gracious God, at times when I hear the bad news of the world, it is as though I’ve been in the middle of a bad dream. Then I turn over and go back to sleep, ignoring the plight of Your children. It is hard to see tragedy and suffering. It is hard to admit my responsibility for the plagues of the world. It is hard to work for the good when the good seems so far off. So help me, dear Lord. Give me the courage to see clearly. Give me the strength to do my part. Give me the grace to forgive others as You have forgiven me. And give me faith to follow you wholeheartedly. This is my prayer, offered in the name of Christ. Amen.

20. Because faith is more than an intellectual pursuit, and because faith is really about how I live each day, in this time I can reflect on my living, on the good I have done, and the harm I have caused. Mindful of God’s grace and love, let me make my confession.

Prayer: Dear God, have mercy on me for the wrong I have done. Show me where my service is needed. Help me set aside my prejudice and bias. Fill me with a longing to know You better. Forgive me for my lukewarm responses. Kindle in me the passion for Your work. Set me free from doubt and fear. Send me out to be Your people. This I pray in the name of Jesus, my leader, my guide, my Savior. Amen.

21. To confess is to admit – to admit something that might make me feel guilty or ashamed or sad. To confess to God is to await that word of grace, of forgiveness, of hope. Trusting in God’s mercy, let me make my confession.

Prayer: Loving Creator, I admit that I like placing You into neat little boxes – the God of this, the God of that, the God of these people but not of those people. I admit I make You too small. I admit I try to make You manageable. Forgive my short-sightedness, my self-limitedness, and my stubbornness. Enlarge my heart, soul, and mind so that I let go of the need to define You so that I can embrace the joy of letting You be the One who loves. In Christ, I pray, Amen.

22. The call to confess is the call to lay down the burden I may carry, the burden of guilt, of judgment, of knowing I hurt another. I lay that burden down at the feet of the One who calls all of me to a life of forgiveness and repentance. Trusting in the mercy and love of God, let me pray.

Prayer: Savior, like a shepherd lead me; much I need Thy tender care. Forgive me for the wrong I know I have done: my neglect of the vulnerable; my misuse of Your gifts; my hoarding of things I am called to share. Forgive me for failing to do good, offering grace to the imperfect; forgiving those who have hurt me; seeing the good that surrounds me. Turn me away from that which harms, and turn me to You, the only One who heals. Amen.

23. Prayer: Holy God, I know when I have hurt another. I know when I have acted against Your rule of love. I know when I have neglected to do something that would help another person or help the world. I know that I sin and come before You in true repentance. I also know that You love me, forgive me, and call me to forgive others. So enable me in all of this to be Your servant in service and mission. Amen.

24. Prayer: Holy and wonderful God, hear my prayer. You alone enable me to be different – less judging, less selfish, less greedy; more hopeful, more graceful, more trusting. I would be different if I opened my heart to Your cleansing; if I opened my hands for You to direct them; if I would relinquish control of my feet to follow you. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, loosen my grip and remake me in Your image. Amen.

25. To confess to God is to do something holy – opening myself to the light and healing of the divine. Trusting in God’s grace and mercy, let me admit the truth of my life.

Prayer: Holy God, forgive me for being so proud, so smart, so able that I forget how to be humble, how to learn, and how to seek help. Forgive me for being so smug, so anxious, so mean that I forget I am not always right, or in control, or good. Forgive me for being less than what You created me to be. Make me whole. This I pray in Jesus’ strong name. Amen.

Bottom Line

As you and I eat this daily bread of confession and repentance until Good Friday, I pray that our Heavenly Father breathes new life into your soul with His steadfast love. That He reminds you of the joy of your salvation. That our merciful Father gives you a clean heart as you approach the foot of the Cross each day along this Lenten journey.

This season of repentance and mindful silent confession reminds us how great the love of God truly is as He gives us new eyes leading up to Holy Week. With a collective humble heart, we utter a unison prayer of confession for the forgiveness of sins as we wait to celebrate the glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday.



Related Posts:

About the Author
Although Donna is a sought-after Bible teacher, her path from being unchurched to become passionate about sharing Jesus was not easy. Go here to read her God-breathed journey, “From Unchurched to Becoming a Multi-Published Author and Sought-After Speaker.” If you want to send Donna a quick message, then visit her contact page here.

{Some of these links are affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase through that link, the ministry may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!}

Scripture From Scratch: New Bible Study Tool (Free Downloads)

The entire Bible is more accessible than at any other point in history. Yet “How to Study the Bible” is searched online over 8,500 times each month. Access to the Word of God is not the issue. However, knowing it is a huge issue. So how do you start studying the Bible?

Scripture from Scratch

Table of Contents

Where to Start Reading the Bible
Why is Knowing Scripture Important?
Start with Prayer
13 Methods to Study Scripture

The best place to start studying the Bible is the Gospels. These four books are firsthand accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry from those who walked with Him. Let’s look at some helpful, practical study knowledge and practices.

Where to Start Reading the Bible

Here is a brand new resource hot off the ministry press to print out and tuck into your Bible: Scripture From Scratch. Reading and familiarizing yourself with the Gospels is an excellent starting place in the Bible and this resource will help tremendously.

The first installment of Scripture From Scratch includes study outlines for the Gospels. Each book’s outline includes the time period it was written, the author, and how many chapters. It also includes the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and what makes that Gospel unique compared to the other three.

These one-page study outlines provide helpful, basic information on each of the four Gospels. They are handy reference guides to share with anyone who studies the Bible–whether you are brand new to Bible study or have been studying for years. 

More outlines and in-depth material in the Scripture From Scratch series will be released throughout 2023, so stay tuned! 

For new Christians or as a refresher for those steeped in the Christian faith, these outlines can be printed out and tucked into your Bible for handy reference. And share them!

Why is Knowing Scripture Important?

I first started studying Scripture after becoming a Christian at age 23. I did not know anything about the BibleThere’s an Old Testament and a New Testament? You get the gist.

I felt that my basic questions were off-putting to mature Christians. I lacked a good starting point, a good study Bible, or even which first steps to take. Attending church was important, but getting involved in life groups, a small group, and surrounding myself with Christian friends was a game-changer.

Over the past thirty years, God has cultivated in my daily life solid tools to study, memorize and apply Scripture every day. Today, I am passionate about biblical literacy. Some of the methods below may work better for you than others. Try each one to discover your best method. It is time well spent for your soul.

First Things First: Start with Prayer

Scripture is God’s breath exhaled onto the page. Focusing your mind and thoughts on Him comes first and foremost. Always begin your study time with prayer.

The Holy Spirit in you will faithfully guide you, but perhaps start with a prayer similar to this one:

Dear Lord, as I open my Bible today, open my heart to hear your words of truth. I pray that your Word comes alive in me. Remove all distractions right now. Open my mind to gain understanding as your words heal, teach, inspire, convict, and restore my heart. Enable your words to take root, grow and blossom in my life. Bring your light of understanding and peace that passes all understanding. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Method #1: Study One Book of the Bible

Start with a small book from the New Testament as a solid foundation. The Gospel of John, or the books of James, 1 Peter, and 1 John are all a good start for new believers.

Plan to spend 3-4 weeks studying the book you have chosen. For the first time, read through the entire book to grasp the story. Then, read through and perhaps jot down some study notes to dig into later.

Look for themes that may be woven into the chapters. For example, the book of James contains an obvious theme of perseverance through hard circumstances. Grab a journal and write down the verses around each theme.

Also, make a note of life application principles within the book. In James, a clear life application is that words need to result in action. As you meditate on the themes and life application principles, allow God’s Word to speak to you personally. Where can those themes or applications apply to your life right now?

Method #2: Read Straight Through the Bible

Reading the Bible straight through allows us to “hear” it like Israel’s nomadic tribes. Each person did not have parchment, so the Bible stories were shared verbally.

Note that you do NOT have to start at the beginning of the Bible. The Bible contains 66 separate books compiled into one. You can start anywhere you like, just be sure to read all of them. Reading straight through allows you to hear the overarching story of the Bible.

Be sure to choose a Bible version that is easy to read. Let’s face it, if you don’t understand it, you won’t get far.

There are dozens of translations and different versions of God’s Word, but the King James version is probably the most difficult. For clear reading, I suggest the English Standard Version (ESV) or New Living Translation (NLT). Personally, I use an ESV Study Bible, but the best study Bibles are the ones that work for YOU.

This method allows us to see the overarching story of God’s goodness to His children from Genesis to Revelation. His passionate, relentless pursuit of us toward salvation comes across with beautiful clarity.

I have many different Bible reading plans for free download here.

Method #3: Write Out Parts of the Bible

Our culture moves at lightning speed. Since we are technologically driven (for the most part), we desire things to move fast – such as food, lines, and traffic.

Absorbing Scripture into the marrow of our bones takes time. Breathing space. Quiet time. That’s where grabbing a pen, your Bible and a journal plays a vital role. The rhythm of physically writing slows us down to absorb the words. They stick with us past the moment – especially if you want to memorize particular verses.

As an author, I love the steady cadence of writing out God’s Word. That cadence resounds in my soul to retain those life-giving words.

Make writing fun! I love using my favorite Tul pens and a variety of colorful journals that are readily available and inexpensive.

Method #4: Character Study

One of the most frequently asked questions is who’s who in the Bible. The follow-up question is usually why does it matter?

I love reading current biographies of historical great men and women because they lend insight into the person. Doing character studies throughout Scripture accomplishes much the same.

For instance, Scripture only contains two books named after women: Ruth and Esther. My study quest to understand Esther turned into a full-blown, published Bible study. Talk about an amazing woman of faith that God used mightily!

Studying characters matters because their examples teach us much about living a life of faith. As you study each character, you will see how God moved in their life. How He provided for their needs, disciplined them toward success, and loved them beyond measure. He still does that today with you and me.

Method #5: Topical Bible Study

This is similar to the Character Study method listed above. However, instead of a person, pick a topic. Temptation, peace, addiction, and forgiveness are a few that could be tackled.

I remember as a new Christian being confused by what it meant to be “quenched” or “hydrated” by the Lord. What does “living water” mean? Years later, I used this topical Bible study method and turned that personal quest into a Bible study called Quenched: Christ’s Living Water for a Thirty Soul.

What topic do you long to know more about in the Bible? Use the concordance in the back of your Bible to find where that topic appears in Scripture. Then grab a notepad.

Read and/or write down all of those passages. What does God teach about that topic? Are common misconceptions debunked? Most importantly, meditate on how God can apply those truths to your spiritual journey.

Quenched: Christ's Living Water for a Thirsty Soul by Donna Snow

Method #6: Memorize Scripture

Hiding God’s Word in our hearts is vital. When the enemy knocks us to the ground, God brings those verses to mind to comfort us and bring His peace.

One of the first portions of Scripture I memorized was the Armor of God from Ephesians 6:10-18. This evil in this world is evident – just turn on the evening news. As His children, we need to know God has protected us from head to toe. I wrote an entire Bible study on this topic.

If you are facing a particular battle right now start with verses that speak to that situation. If you are experiencing joyful circumstances, start with passages that praise God.

Yes, all of Scripture is worthy of memorization. However, focusing on ones that directly apply to your life situation will be more meaningful. Memorization will come easier.

Method #7: Bible Journaling (the SOAP method)

A vital step in our faith journey is applying Scripture to our lives. A popular, helpful method appeared a few years ago called “S.O.A.P.” It stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer.

I used this method effectively when writing The God of All Comfort based on 2 Corinthians 1:3-7. Paul teaches how God comforts us in our affliction, which enables us to also offer His compassionate comfort to others.

This method is simple. Pick a section of Scripture each morning or evening during your devotion time. Using a notepad or SOAP journal:

  • Write down the Scripture passage
  • Read through it again and record your Observations
  • Jot down how you can Apply those truths in your life
  • Close with Prayer for God to make that verse personal to you

Method #8: Single Word Study

Have you ever wondered what the Bible says about fear? Love? Humility? Kindness? Such wondering offers a perfect opportunity to undertake a single-word study.

When I experienced divorce over a decade ago, I did not feel very loved (to say the least). One of my pastors challenged me to read through the Bible and write out every passage that talked about God’s love. WOW!

Navigating through the painful valleys of divorce is something I understand very well. If you need a Christian guide on how to survive and thrive, I suggest my book: Without This Ring.

That undertaking left me without a trace of doubt about how much God loves me, even when people may not. Writing all of those love passages consumed an entire journal. If I am ever feeling unloved, I still pull out that journal. I don’t feel unloved for long.

If you long to be more kind, I challenge you to search for every instance in Scripture where God talks about kindness. Write them out in a journal. Ask the Lord to enable you to be more kind. God will blow you away as He works through this discipline.

Method #9: Coloring Scripture (Bible Marginalia)

Bible marginalia appeared on the scene a few years ago and has exploded in popularity. If you are an artistic person, this method is a great tool. The premise is to meditate on a Bible verse as you highlight, color, and create art around it.

Friends of mine have launched a very popular Visual Faith® Ministry. There are hundreds of free downloads that include examples of how to highlight, color, and visually enhance your Bible reading experience.

The goal is to utilize the artistic gifts that God has given you to engage with and meditate on Scripture. Even though you are being artistic, be sure to keep in mind the main purpose. Meditate on that passage(s).

Method #10: Read Scripture Like a Novel

Right from Genesis 1, Scripture opens as an epic, cosmic tale about the heavens and the earth. We see God creating everything out of nothing. We see marital drama between Adam and Eve. Blessings and curses. Covenants. Promises. Murder. Adultery. Betrayal. War. Political subversion. Cinematic-worthy battles.

If you are a writer or wannabe screenwriter, simply look at the account of David’s battle with Goliath in 1 Samuel 17. You can’t make that stuff up. It flat-out reads like an award-winning novel.

There are main characters, metanarrative, and deep plot development that become clearer when reading the Bible like a novel. The settings are both intimate and dramatic. The important difference? Scripture is non-fiction.

The overarching message of the Bible becomes crystal clear: God’s love toward us never fails. If you love stories, read through the Bible like a novel. Mentally insert yourself into those stories. Visualize your surroundings. See how God challenges and rescues. Scripture comes alive!

Method #11: Pray Through the Psalms

As a new 20-something Christian struggling with how God could love someone like me, a godly mentor pointed me to the Psalms.

The Psalms verbalized the hurricane of words in my head that I could not explain. She suggested that I use the Psalms as a guideline for my prayer time. Verbalizing worries and concerns to the One who has the power to change them was a spiritual game-changer.

Every emotion that we experience can be found in the Psalms. Anger. Love. Bitterness. Praise. Confusion. Hurt. Thanksgiving. You name it, and it’s in the Psalms. The key to relating to the Psalms is putting yourself in the place of the psalmist. Read it aloud as if you were writing it from your own experience.

King David penned at least 73 of the psalms. He poured his heart out to God in his writing. And as he wrote, God’s peace and comfort would surround him.

The Psalms are also infused with worship. Worship was an integral part of the Israelite’s worship and find great value in our worship even today. If your circumstances leave you without words to worship, speak those worship Psalms aloud.

Method #12: Utilize Your Love of Geography

Understanding the geography around Biblical stories adds an important layer to studying Scripture. Years ago, a friend gave me a Bible Atlas as a birthday gift and it is never far from reach.

When you realize that the Sea of Galilee is only eight by twelve, we can understand how the crowds could track Jesus’ boat as they followed Him along the shore to experience the miraculous feeding of the five thousand (Matthew 14:13-21).

I regularly lead tours through the Holy Land. One of the comments that people repeatedly say is that they had no idea about the proximity of some locations to others. For instance, Magdala, Tiberius, Capernaum, and the Mount of Beatitudes can be seen from an anchored boat on the Sea of Galilee.

If you love maps, this is a very effective method of diving deeper into Scripture. Grab a Bible atlas, pick a story from Scripture, and track the character’s movements. I have spent many hours lost in the pages of that Bible atlas seeing Scripture come to life through geography.

Qumran, Israel

Method #13: Use Bible Flash Cards

Flash cards are not just for school kids. As a bona fide lifelong learner, flashcards are an invaluable way to study Scripture.

When my Forgiveness Bible study was released, the publisher had the brilliant idea of offering Scripture cards with any purchase. I still keep those cards close by as a reminder to keep short accounts. Life is short. Forgiveness is commanded. In fact, here is a free downloadable reading plan on forgiveness to tuck into your Bible.

If you are new to the Bible in general, there are flashcards for learning the books of the Bible, significant characters, and even the timeline. This method is a great resource if you do not have much time each day for in-depth study.

The Bottom Line

The Bible is our only true source of wisdom and knowledge. Regular studying of God’s Word provides a firm foundation to grow and strengthen your faith. It is life-giving and life-changing.

Remember to give yourself some grace in your study of the Bible. You are learning the spiritual riches of a personal relationship with the Son of God. It takes a lifetime. Above all, diligent Bible study will remind you time and again of the assurance of salvation through Jesus Christ alone.


Related Posts:

About the Author

Although Donna is a sought-after Bible teacher, her path from being unchurched to become passionate about sharing Jesus was not easy. Go here to read her God-breathed journey, “From Unchurched to Becoming a Multi-Published Author and Sought-After Speaker.” If you want to send Donna a quick message, then visit her contact page here.

{Some of these links are affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase through that link, the ministry may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your ministry support!}

What Does the Bible Say About Forgive And Forget?

When my ex-husband committed adultery six years into our marriage, I did not tell anyone. I was ashamed that perhaps people would think I was a bad wife. Perhaps I had done something to turn him away. Or the worst, I wasn’t “putting out” enough. In other words, I was blaming myself and absorbing guilt that was not mine.

Table of Contents

  1. Is Forgetting a Hurt Even Possible?
  2. Three Options for Dealing with our Wound
  3. Only God has the Power to Forget
  4. The Definition of Forgiveness
  5. What Forgiveness is NOT

God did not give human beings the divine power to erase our memories. We cannot forget when someone hurts us, but we still need to walk toward the soul freedom that forgiveness promises. So what can we do to get past the hurt to begin the forgiveness process?

The Unseen Wounds

When you are wronged, you are handed an internal wound. Though unseen, we never forget the pain caused by that wound. The larger the pain, the larger the wound. Some days, I truly felt like I was bleeding out of my skin, but no one knew.

I prayed constantly for God to give me the grace to forgive that adultery. In tears, I often pleaded with God for His healing. For the Holy Spirit to give me the strength to move past that horrific wound. For the courage to be intimate in my marriage again. For trust in my spouse to be repaired.

In His steadfast love, God granted all of those requests and more. Forgiveness flowed, our relationship was repaired, and He pulled our marriage out of the depths of the sea. And even though they had been forgiven, those memories were stored in the hard drives of my mind. Yours are, too.

Seven years later, I discovered my husband’s past sins had resurfaced and he was having multiple affairs, which ultimately ended our marriage. I cannot even fully describe the level of anger, hurt, and unforgiveness that welled up inside me. Past hurts raged to the surface and I knew I needed to seek help for my own sake. I was drowning in emotional pain.

For the first time in my life, I sought Christian counseling. The absolute last thing I needed was for any root of bitterness to take hold. It took a solid year for God’s forgiveness to flow in my heart to move me toward forgiving my ex-husband. I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of forgiveness in order to embrace a new life.

Is Forgetting A Hurt Even Possible?

We’ve all heard the phrase, “If you haven’t forgotten, you haven’t forgiven.” Perhaps you have even said it because I certainly used to. It’s easy to say but impossible to do. While we may be able to forget small slights, we remember life-altering wounds.

On the other hand, remembering certain kinds of hurt is usually beneficial. For instance, I don’t touch hot stoves because I did that once. Lesson learned. Our memory can instruct us on how to avoid similar hurt in the future. It’s those heart hurts caused by unacceptable behavior or harsh words that can trip us up for a very long time.

A Stationary Bicycle Going Nowhere Fast

When we buy into the forgive-and-forget lie, we end up berating ourselves when we remember our wounds. We get frustrated and spend futile time and energy trying to make ourselves forget again. It is a useless, unproductive cycle that only succeeds in embedding the hurt deeper.

Satan loves the forgive-and-forget lie because it wastes our time and energy and always lands us right back where we started: remembering the wound. It’s a stationary bicycle going nowhere fast. There is no solution to the lie of “forgive and forget.” That pot only keeps stirring toxic emotions.

Three Options for Dealing with our Wound

When someone hurts us (wounds us), we have three main options:

1. Hand It Back

When you hand back a wound, it is called revenge. It looks something like this: “You did this to me? Then, this is what I will do to you.” You then throw the wound back at them with a vengeance. Whether verbally or physically, handing the wound back through revenge intends to harm.

2. Internalize or Hide It

This happens when shame plays a part in the wound. Rape victims deal with this because some people still believe the nauseating assumption that somehow the victim invited or deserved it. The victim may hide it to avoid being called loose. Shame is the single biggest factor in hiding a wound.

3. Hand it Up to Jesus

When we hand our wounds up to Jesus Christ, we take them out of circulation. The wounds do not have the opportunity to fester in us or spread to others. Taking the wounds out of circulation stops the cycle. That is how Jesus patterned forgiveness. He felt the wounds, absorbed the pains, and forgave them from the cross. He took them out of circulation for eternity.

When you and I hand up our wounds to Jesus, He renews our strength from the inside out. Right where that wound is hiding. And He faithfully begins to work true forgiveness in us.

Even though you and I cannot forget a wound, we can certainly choose how to deal with the pain of their offense going forward. We can choose options 1 and 2 above and let bitterness sink in, or we can go with option 3 and live in the freedom that forgiveness brings.

Only God Has the Power to Forget

In Hebrews 8, God’s Word says: “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12, ESV). God promises to forget our sins (the precise meaning of which could fill a whole book), but that is an unrealistic standard to put on ourselves. He is God. We are not.

What is the Definition of Forgiveness?

If you asked a dozen people to define forgiveness, you would likely hear twelve different responses. Since Christians are commanded to extend forgiveness, we need to clearly understand what it means.

Webster’s dictionary defines forgiveness as “to excuse a fault or offense; to stop feeling anger or resentment against; and to absolve from payment of.” Excuse and absolve are difficult verbs to swallow in the context of pain. Thankfully, our Heavenly Father provides many Bible verses to navigate the storm. {Download 31-Day Forgiveness Bible Reading Plan}

The Greek word in the New Testament for forgive (aphiēmi) means “to send away.” In Christ Jesus, God packed up our transgressions (which include unforgiveness) and permanently sent them away. In Psalm 103:12, God promises: “As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.”

The thing about the east and west is that there is no end. Once you start heading east, you are always heading east until you change directions. Once you journey west, you are always journeying west. By the grace of God, He removes our sins and remembers them no more.

Hate and Love Cannot Coexist

When someone hurts us, God commands us to forgive because hate and bitterness do not line up with His teaching to love. Hate and love cannot coexist. Forgiveness cannot blossom when roots of unforgiveness hide in the soil of our hearts.

Thankfully, God does not simply issue the command to forgive, sit back, and watch us struggle. He provides the Source of power that enables us to fulfill His command. The Apostle Paul wrote: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, ESV).

The power of Christ in us enables us to forgive the deepest wounds. Trust me. I have been divorced for twelve years now. Had I refused to let God work His forgiveness in me and then through me, I would be an angry, bitter, hot mess about now. A healed heart is FREEDOM.

Forgiveness is Commanded

Jesus talked about forgiveness more than two dozen times in the Gospels, including a key part of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:12) and teaching His disciples to forgive others “seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:22). He even asked God to forgive those who nailed Him to the cross (Luke 23:34). That includes you and me.

Forgiveness is not God’s suggestion; it is His command: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3:12-13, ESV).

We must also forgive. That’s a hard truth to digest when the mere thought of forgiving your offender makes you sick to your stomach. I certainly did want to forgive my ex-husband. But those negative feelings were toxins in my soul.

It’s amazing how easily we throw around the word forgiveness until we are asked to step forward through the pain and extend it personally. But forgiveness is the only way we will survive bleeding out from the spiritual and emotional wounds caused by the hurtful words and actions of others.

The Cost of Forgiveness

The heart of forgiveness always beats with liberation and freedom. Not necessarily for those who hurt you. But for you. Forgiveness is costly. We struggle not to lash out at those who hurt us. We’re absorbing the debt and cost of the consequences instead of taking it out on the perpetrator. We suffer, and it hurts terribly. Surrendering that pain to God is the only pathway toward healing.

Some people say that it feels like dying. They are not wrong. The cost of forgiveness is death. Death to our desire for revenge. Death to seeking payment for the hurt they caused. The cost of forgiveness is death. Just ask Jesus. He sacrificed His life to forgive us eternally. And His forgiveness leads us to experience a resurrection of new life centered in Him.

So start by asking God for just one small step today on the road toward forgiveness. Tomorrow, ask Him for another small step. The road ends in the death of bitterness and resurrection to life. The dead-end road ends at Calvary. 

Does Forgiveness Condone Their Hurtful Actions?

The hardest struggle we face in extending forgiveness is falsely believing that we are somehow condoning their actions. That lie comes straight from the devil. The enemy loves weaving a web of toxicity around that lie because we want those who hurt us to pay for their transgressions.

Forgiveness does not mean condoning someone’s bad behavior. It means releasing their judgment and consequences to God.

As God faithfully opens doors for me to travel and speak with groups of women all over the country, I have discovered that forgiveness is often misunderstood. Some believe that forgiveness should only be extended when their perpetrator asks for it. Or when they have groveled enough. But when is enough enough? Your pain cannot be undone, only surrendered to God.

Others believe that forgiveness means you must reconcile with the person who hurt you and go skipping through the tulip fields into the sunset together. Neither could be further from the truth. In order to extend forgiveness, we need to clearly understand what it is not. 

What Forgiveness is NOT

Forgiveness Is Not Excusing a Sin or Crime

This is one of the most common objections to extending forgiveness. Many people often equate forgiveness with letting someone off the hook; like somehow forgiveness approves what they did because we didn’t force them to make it right. But that’s not what forgiveness means.

For instance, a rape victim suffers horrible atrocities, and there are legal consequences for the violator. The victim can forgive her attacker yet still follow the legal process to take the proper course for her attacker to reap the punishment for his actions.

Sin is not okay. It can be forgiven, but it should not be excused. By God’s grace, we become wiser regarding future interactions with that person.

Forgiveness Is Different from Reconciliation

Forgiveness takes one. It is extended from one individual to another and released. Reconciliation takes two people who agree to set aside past hurtful behavior, communicate to repair the relationship, and move forward together.

I realized that reconciliation for my marriage was not possible due to the kind of women with whom my ex-husband was involved. If we had reconciled and continued in our marriage, I stood a very real chance of contracting HPV, HIV, or AIDS. My ex-husband was a habitual adulterer, so reconciling and remaining married would have placed my health (and ultimately my life) in danger.

In situations where habitual abuse (whether physical or verbal) has occurred, reconciliation may not be possible because safe mental and physical boundaries must be established. But forgiveness is still commanded.

Forgiveness Is Not about Justice or Consequences

Forgiveness does not obligate the forgiver to protect the offender from reaping the consequences of his or her actions. Consequences are usually what it takes for offenders to change their behavior. If their actions have broken the law (rape, harming a child, etc.), we can and should follow through with appropriate legal action.

To prevent a perpetrator from raping again, testifying at trial is certainly appropriate. There are always consequences for sin, but exacting the consequences of their actions is God’s job, not ours. He alone calls unrepentant sinners to answer for their actions. Even in such extreme circumstances when reconciliation is not possible, we still move toward forgiveness.

Forgiveness Is Not about the Offender

It is not our job to determine whether someone deserves forgiveness of sins. God never tells us in His Word to extend it only when the offender begs for it. Some people hold grudges and stay angry until they believe their offender has suffered enough. But how do we determine when enough is enough?

Hate and anger have consuming power, and those toxins can control and define us. When we allow unforgiveness to consume us, the object of our wrath actually has control over us. It can keep our hearts dangling over the fire, so to speak.

We are washed clean by baptismal grace; therefore, our merciful God does not withhold forgiveness from us—and we are to follow His lead. Forgiving others as God has forgiven us means that we are obeying God’s command. Yet forgiveness is also a gift to ourselves of a life free from bitterness and anger.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality” (Colossians 3:23–25, ESV).

Did you notice that the Lord is the focus of those verses? The Lord handles the wrongs done to us as we heartily serve Him.

Forgiveness Is Not Artificial Nonchalance

Have you ever tried to pretend someone’s actions or words did not hurt you? Me too. But when I remember that hurt for the tenth time in an hour, I cannot keep pretending. Pretending there is nothing to forgive results in anger and resentment down the road.

What we harbor internally eventually surfaces externally. Forgiveness means we acknowledge the hurtful actions or words, pray for God to provide insight on how best to convey them gracefully to the offender, and allow God to move us toward Him for healing. 

Forgiveness Is Not Avoidance

Some people believe that out of sight means out of mind. As long as we avoid our offenders, everything will be just fine. Although that person may not be around, the hurt they inflicted remains. It must be acknowledged, grieved, and forgiven.

Forgiveness Is Not Easy

It’s just not. It takes time. If the wound is deep, it may take a long time. That one year of post-divorce counseling felt like a lifetime. But focusing our energy and time on moving toward forgiveness means embracing our future free from the bondage of vengeful toxins.

We can confidently count on God’s outrageous faithfulness to us. Yesterday is over. Your future lies ahead. God provides peace of mind right alongside our fresh start. Relentlessly lay those hurts at His feet and trust Him to remove the sting.

Bottom Line

I learned so much about forgiveness from the Lord, life experience, and counseling that I wrote an entire book on forgiveness. You can find that Bible study here. God’s Word transforms us, so here is 31-Day Bible Reading Plan about forgiveness that you can download free right now and get started today.

Forgiveness is not “giving in.” Forgiveness is a gift from God that He is waiting for you to open. In that promised land are freedom and new life. For you. 


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About the Author
Although Donna is a sought-after Bible teacher, her path from being unchurched to become passionate about sharing Jesus was not easy. Go here to read her God-breathed journey, “From Unchurched to Becoming a Multi-Published Author and Sought-After Speaker.” If you want to send Donna a quick message, then visit her contact page here.

{Some of these links are affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase through that link, the ministry may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your ministry support!}

Best Books of the Bible to Read First

Spending time in the Word of God is so important to growing your faith. If you’re a new Christian or just new to Bible study, you have probably wondered where to start reading the Bible. Let’s dive right in.

Background Photo by Jonny Swales on Unsplash

Table of Contents

  1. What Book of the Bible Should I Read First?
  2. New Testament
  3. Old Testament
  4. How to Read the Whole Bible

What Book of the Bible Should I Read First?

The best place to start reading the Bible is the Gospel of John. John was written decades after the other Gospels and provides an extraordinary account of the ministry and testimony of Jesus Christ.

While people vary on answering the best order in which to read the stories of the Bible, there are definitely better places to begin than others. The story of the Bible is an epic, life-changing adventure. Congratulations on starting that journey!

Why are Some Books a Better Place to Start Than Others?

I became a Christian at age 23 and had never read the Bible. Not once. Starting with Leviticus would have put me to sleep, and starting with Revelation would have freaked me out.

Now thirty-two years later, I study those books as part of God’s inspired Word. However, I do not recommend either one as the best option to start your reading journey. Understanding the Bible will be an incredible, life-long endeavor.

My point is not to provide another Bible reading plan. Although they are very useful (like this Chronological Bible Reading Plan that I’m currently walking through), for new Christians trying to understand the first things about Scripture we need to skip around a bit.

The best reason to start reading the Bible is to gain a better understanding of the greatest story ever told. God’s pursuit of mankind is the greatest love story ever written. Jesus’ death on the cross was the most beautiful sacrifice ever given. His resurrection means the difference between eternal life and eternal torment.

New Testament Books

The New Testament is the best place to start reading the Bible because we learn about our Savior Jesus Christ. The entirety of God’s Word points toward Jesus. Understanding the life of Jesus, how much He loves us, and His mission to offer us new life is vital to our faith walk. Consequently, the Gospels (the first four books of the New Testament) are a great place to start.

1. Gospel of John

John is my favorite Gospel and one of my favorite books in the entire Bible. The book of John is a masterpiece of literature and theology. It provides an extraordinary account of the ministry and testimony of Jesus Christ.

Ninety percent of John’s Gospel is unique from the other three (or Synoptic) Gospels. Since John’s Gospel was written decades after the other three Gospels, the Apostle provides a more rounded and relatable picture of our Savior.

While the other three Gospels focus on the works and words of Jesus, John provides an exalted portrait of Jesus’ love and His deity as the Son of God. The miracles, lessons, and parables of Jesus are chronicled, as well as His life, death, and resurrection.

One of the most universally recognized Bible verses is found in John’s Gospel: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, ESV).

2. Romans

Romans was penned by the Apostle Paul and conveys essential Christian doctrine and beliefs. Why is that important?

Before Paul’s encounter with the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul persecuted Christians. Formerly known as Saul of Tarsus, He did not believe Jesus’ message and was zealous in stamping out His followers. Paul was a Jew who learned the Gospel from ground zero and became a passionate follower of Jesus who wrote much of the New Testament.

I can relate to the Apostle Paul starting at ground zero and perhaps you can, too. In Romans, we see the essential teachings of Christianity and its mission, as well as justification by faith alone through Christ’s righteousness alone.

My favorite verses in Romans are: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39, NIV).

3. Book of Ephesians

The book of Ephesians was also written by the Apostle Paul. At its core, Ephesians teaches us how to live a holy life empowered by the Holy Spirit. Ephesians is a short book containing only 6 chapters, but it is absolutely dynamic and uplifting to read. Especially for new believers.

Ephesians begins with a beautiful explanation of the spiritual blessings given through Christ to all believers, including adoption as sons and daughters, redemption, forgiveness, and Baptism that unites all Christians.

Paul teaches about the beautiful grace of God, contrasted with what Christians can expect in spiritual warfare. Spiritual warfare and the protection God gives us against it is so important to understand that I wrote an entire 8-week Bible study on Ephesians 6:10-18 called “Your Strong Suit.”

My favorite verses in Ephesians are: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8, ESV).

4. Book of Philippians

Also penned by the Apostle Paul, the book of Philippians teaches us how to have joy during trials. We can certainly relate to needing joy in our post-pandemic world.

Paul experienced one of the most famous conversions in the history of Christianity and experienced severe persecution for his faith. He endured more physical persecution than any other disciple of Jesus in the New Testament. Reading through 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 where Paul lists these atrocities is sobering, indeed.

My favorite verses in Philippians are: “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8, ESV).

Note: An honorable mention in this “top 4” list to read in the rest of the New Testament is the Book of Acts. Written by Luke, Acts reveals how the first-century Christian church was started and the incredible faith of the early Church. It is inspiring, to say the least!

Old Testament Books

1. Book of Psalms

The book of Psalms is one of the most quoted, loved books in the Bible and is my favorite book. The book of Psalms is the songbook of the Hebrew people–recalling their joy, sorrow, and hope over hundreds of years. The Psalms show us how to praise the Lord and pray authentically.

This book is important because it contains gut-wrenching honesty, raging anger, and heartbreaking confession – things you and I can relate to today. Yet we also find God’s beautiful redemption, forgiveness, and grace in the pages of the Psalms – things you and I desperately need today. King David, Israel’s greatest king, wrote 73 of the 150 psalms.

Psalms is a good place to start reading in the Old Testament because the psalms are simple and heartfelt. Some short, some long. Reading them reassures us that we are seen, known, and loved exceedingly by the God of the universe.

Psalm 139 is my favorite psalm: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:13-14, ESV).

2. Book of Genesis

The first book of the Bible is another great place to start reading the Bible. In Genesis, we learn about creation, the beginning of time, and the need of all humanity for a Savior.

We meet the great Patriarchs, who were the founders of the nation of Israel. We also witness how God raises up one faithful man, Abraham, to populate the earth and bring about the rescue of the whole world.

My favorite verses are the first two because they start this whole epic story: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Genesis 1:1-3, ESV).  

3. Book of Proverbs

The book of Proverbs contains 31 chapters full of wisdom regarding how to live a good, God-honoring life. And bonus – since it has 31 chapters, you can read a chapter each day of the month.

Proverbs expertly contrasts wisdom and folly. We certainly see our fair share of folly in our culture today. Here we find guidance to deliver us from self-destruction and instruct us on how to live wise lives that honor God.

My favorite passage in Proverbs is: “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones” (Proverbs 2:6-8, NIV).

4. Ecclesiastes

The book of Ecclesiastes is both instructive and intriguing. Written by King Solomon toward the end of his life, he offers first-hand wisdom regarding how the success of this world holds no real significance in light of eternity.

Solomon was the wealthiest man who ever lived and had every worldly comfort imaginable. Yet his foolish decisions hastened his destruction as he discovered that not placing God at the center of his life was a huge mistake.

Yet, Ecclesiastes also reminds us that God provides for us in every season in His perfect time. It reveals that only God gives true wisdom and pursues us relentlessly to be in fellowship with Him. We can learn much from Solomon’s journey.

My favorite verse from Ecclesiastes: “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NLT).

How to Approach Reading the Whole Bible

It almost goes without saying that reading the Bible cover to cover is instrumental to our Christian life. Yes, it can be intimidating. When a friend gifted me with my first Bible, I remember thinking, “I’ve got to read this whole thing?” Not flattering, but truthful.

Written over a span of 1,500 years by 40 different authors, the Bible is the most important book ever written. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the authors come from every walk of life. They wrote in times of war, peace, defeat, and victory.

There are prophetic books, difficult passages, and dozens of translations, yet the big picture reveals just how much God loves us. Once you read the books listed above, spend time in prayer about where God would have you read next as you work your way through the rest of the Bible.

What Version of the Bible is Best?

I read most often from the English Standard Version. Scholars have said that this translation most accurately reflects the original languages in which the Bible was written – yet uses modern language. I would not recommend the King James Version, since some of the language and terminology are not really used today and therefore hard to understand.

My favorite Bibles are:

Bottom Line

God gave us the Bible so that we would come to know Him and His Son Jesus Christ. If you are reading the Bible for the very first time, I envy your incredible journey of discovery. So grab your Bible, a journal, some Bible markers, a pen, and perhaps some Bible tabs for navigation – and DIG IN.

As you read the Bible, God will change your heart, life, and how you interact with others. Best of all, it will point you to saving faith in Jesus Christ.

God’s blessings as you dive in!

Related Posts:

About the Author
Although Donna is a sought-after Bible teacher, her path from being unchurched to become passionate about sharing Jesus was not easy. Go here to read her God-breathed journey, “From Unchurched to Becoming a Multi-Published Author and Sought-After Speaker.” If you want to send Donna a quick message, then visit her contact page here.

{Some of these links are affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase through that link, the ministry may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your ministry support!}

What Does Longsuffering Mean in the Bible?

Roy had a beautiful wife and three strapping sons. He was a successful businessman and respected church leader. One day he went in for routine back surgery and something went horribly wrong on the operating table.

For the next ten years, Roy lived in a vegetative state. That is a long time. He could not feed himself, get out of bed, or function whatsoever on his own. His wife, Arleah, turned their home’s living room into his hospital room. For ten years, hundreds upon hundreds of people — lots of people — took turns volunteering to help care for him and his family.

I never heard Arleah complain. Not once. Her steadfast love was a beautiful testimony. Each Christmas, my friends and I from church would go and sing Christmas carols to Roy and Arleah. Sometimes, Roy would try to sing along with us. Somewhere deep inside him, Jesus was alive in his memory. Now Roy is experiencing Jesus face-to-face.

The Weight of Suffering

If you are breathing, you have experienced suffering. It’s simply the not-so-simple part of life. Whether through sickness, life challenges, vocation struggles, or the death of loved ones, we have all suffered. We may view difficult situations as suffering, but it goes much deeper than surface discomfort.

When I think of a longsuffering person, my mind goes to Arleah. She endured ten years taking care of Roy who was the love of her life. I think of a parent who has lost a child and the void that it leaves. Or someone who has struggled with a serious addiction for their whole adult life.

But that’s not how Scripture defines longsuffering.

What is Longsuffering?

Longsuffering often means the patience to endure our suffering – not the suffering itself. Remember Job? His suffering was excruciating, unfair, and long, yet he never lost faith in God. His friends admonished him, and his wife told him to curse God, but Job remained steadfast.

Job endured his suffering with patient endurance. Job was longsuffering because he placed his hope and trust in God. Job told God every emotion he struggled with, yet steadfastly depended on the Lord for the strength to endure.

What Does the Bible Say About Suffering?

One of the key passages that tackle suffering is found in 1 Peter 5: “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:10-11, ESV).

What does a “little while” mean? From the context, it appears that the end of our suffering points to the time of eternal glory. So at face value, when God calls us into eternal glory (basically when we die), He will do for us all of those wonderful things listed: restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish.

Does a “Little While” Last a Lifetime?

Keeping in mind the 1 Peter 5 passages above, let’s compare 1 Peter 1:6-7: “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith — more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire — may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

The “little while” used here and in 1 Peter 5 is the same phrase. The context points to the fact that a “little while” will end at the “revelation of Jesus Christ.” In other words, at the end of our life here.

Let’s look at one more place: “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of the grass. The grass withers and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Peter 1:24-25, ESV).

These verses offer a contrast between what is temporary (flesh, grass, and flowers) and what is eternal (the Word of the Lord). In other words, it contrasts between ordinary life and eternal life. Our time on earth and our eternity in heaven.

How Long Does Suffering Last?

With those three sets of passages in mind in their proper context, we can conclude that a “little while” lasts our lifetime. Not a week, a month, or even a year. It lasts until God calls us home, whether that is at age 20, 30, 50, 65, or 90.

If you are in a particular season of hard suffering, that conclusion does not sit well at all. We want to see the end of suffering, in our everyday life and in the lives of those we love. We long for the burdensome weight of suffering to be lifted off of our chests right now. We just need a little breather, right?

But let’s look at suffering from a slightly different perspective. You have probably heard someone say, “Just tell me the truth. Give me all the facts. I can handle anything as long as I know the truth.” Perhaps you have said it yourself.

What Are the Facts?

The fact is that in this world we will have trouble. We will suffer. Jesus warned us ahead of time. He told us the truth and laid out the facts. But that isn’t all that Jesus tells us: “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, ESV).

When we are in Christ, even though we suffer, He has promised His peace and ultimate victory in spite of our pain. Even though our suffering lasts a little while (our lifetime), the contrast is eternity without sin, pain, or suffering. What an extraordinary glimpse into the riches of His kindness!

Eternity is infinitely longer that the blip on the timeline that we spend on Earth. Even if we have to endure a lifetime of suffering, there is coming a glory that far outweighs such things. That glory will last infinitely longer than the “little while” we reside on planet Earth.

What Now?

Those are the facts. Now that we know them, what can we look forward to? What is promised in that eternal glory?

First, as we saw in 1 Peter 5:10-11, the promises are for those who are in Christ. This eternal glory isn’t something that believers have to manufacture or work towards. The promises are rooted in Christ — His work, His value, His perfection, His righteousness, His resurrection, and His victory over sin and death. “In Christ” is the foundation of our eternal glory.

He promises to restore, confirm and strengthen us and provide us with an unshakable future with Him. The Apostle Paul puts it like this, “He will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:21, ESV).

How Can We Cultivate Patience?

How can we cultivate the patience to endure? To be longsuffering amidst our trials?

First and foremost, we are not expected to produce longsuffering, because God has already given it to every believer: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23, ASV).

God has already given us longsuffering (patience)! The litmus test of faith is whether will we tap into it by faith or ignore it by choice. Because we can certainly choose to not love, not operate in the peace of God, not embrace longsuffering, not to display kindness, and so on.

Suffering Points to the Purpose of God

God does not allow suffering in our lives just for His amusement. The sin that broke this world broke God’s heart because it erected a barrier of sin in the face of His holiness. Our heavenly Father desires an intimate relationship with us so that one day we can wear the crown of life.

Yet nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:31-39). He spends our entire lives pursuing us with His love. His love chases us because He wants us to know Him — even in our suffering.

It is important to note that many blessings can come out of our suffering. God promises: “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3-4, ESV). Endurance, character, and hope — beautiful riches of His goodness.

Suffering Teaches Us to Love One Another

If we never saw pain and suffering in the world, how would we ever learn compassion? As believers, where would we get the patience to endure someone else’s illness if we never experienced an illness of our own? In our suffering, we learn to bear with one another in love. Paul teaches:

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:1-2, ESV).

How Do We Develop Patience (Longsuffering)?

Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines patience as “the suffering of afflictions, pain, toil, calamity, provocation or other evil, with a calm, unruffled temper; endurance without murmuring or fretfulness.”

It adds that “patience may spring from constitutional fortitude, from a kind of heroic pride, or from Christian submission to the divine will.”

At its core, patience is submitting to Christ. Only He gives us the ability to persevere and face opposition (suffering) without complaining or taking revenge. I’ll be the first to raise my hand and admit that developing patience is hard. Flat out hard.

Yet with the Holy Spirit working in us, it is not an impossible dream. Here are three ways that Scripture shows us how to develop patience.

1. Practice thankfulness.

The more we notice, articulate, and thank God for everyday blessings, the less time we have to complain or be sorrowful. It takes mature faith to be thankful – even joyful – amidst life’s trials. But an attitude of gratitude increases our endurance.

Keep a gratitude journal. Journals are incredible because thoughts disentangle themselves over the lips and through the fingertips. Keeping a journal is powerful spiritual therapy.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow” (James 1:2-3, NLT).

2. Listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Patience is a fruit of the Spirit, so it almost goes without saying that we need to listen and lean into the guidance of God’s Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the power of God in us. Jesus assures us that the Holy Spirit will guide us in all truth and remind us of His promises.

We understand His guidance when we spend time in Bible study. Times of suffering are tests of faith, so an in-depth study through the book of James would greatly help. (There’s a free one that you can download from my website.)

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future” (John 16:13, NLT).

3. Keep your eyes on Jesus.

Jesus is our ultimate role model when it comes to patience. He endured the worst so that by faith we would inherit His best. The sufferings of Christ offer the perfect picture of the patience of our Lord.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2, ESV).

Laying aside “every weight” means laying our burdens at the foot of the cross. Some days that feels impossible. When we hurt or see our loved ones hurting, we want to do something. And we can.

We can get on our knees to pray to the One who gives us His peace that passes all understanding and offers us a fresh perspective through His eyes. Journaling your prayers is also an incredible blessing.

God’s Longsuffering

Have you ever stopped to thank God for how patient He is with us? We can be such knuckleheads. Self-centered, concerned only with our own lives, and armed with our own agendas, we often neglect to pause and remember His holy patience with us.

God’s patience is an incredible gift. Jesus was the epitome of divine longsuffering. He gave up His own life so that we might have the hope of everlasting life.

From Old Testament times throughout the New Testament and into today, God’s people have given in to our own sinful desires. Whether it is a love of money, an evil deed, the heart of man straying far from His, The longsuffering of our Lord creates a beautiful mosaic of the grace of God.

Church of the Loaves and Fishes, Israel tour, December 2022

Bottom Line

You and I will suffer during our lifetimes here. But the hope beyond our “little while” is an eternal glory looking into the face of the One who restored us. Only Jesus has that power and dominion. In faith, we believe and trust His promises.

Those are the facts. There is an end to our suffering. Your “little while” may be longer than mine or vice versa. But there is an end to all suffering according to God’s plan for those who believe that Jesus suffered, died, was raised to life, and sits at the right hand of God.

When we grow weary and begin to doubt, worry, or despair, believe that Christ Jesus fights for us. We continue looking for the goodness of God, His tender mercies, and daily living a godly life.

Our Lord God has already won the battle against death. And it is this: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17, ESV).

So when God ushers us into eternity: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4, ESV).


Related Posts:

About the Author
Although Donna is a sought-after Bible teacher, her path from being unchurched to become passionate about sharing Jesus was not easy. Go here to read her God-breathed journey, “From Unchurched to Becoming a Multi-Published Author and Sought-After Speaker.” If you want to send Donna a quick message, then visit her contact page here.

{Some of these links are affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase through that link, the ministry may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your ministry support!}

What Does Rain Symbolize in the Bible?

The Bible often uses the image of rain to describe God’s provision for His people. He uses rain to water the earth and provides nourishment to it. Yet, rain also symbolizes other significant elements.

Table of Contents

  • The Symbol of Rain
  • God Our Provider
  • Judgment and Destruction
  • Rain as God’s Punishment
  • Renewal, Restoration, and Revival
  • Seasons Matter
  • Hebrew Words for Rain
  • Physical Need for Rain
  • Rain Can Symbolize the Anger of God
  • Rain Also Symbolizes God’s Blessing
  • Rain Reflects God’s Eternal Grace
  • God’s Rainbow of Promise
  • God’s Rainbow of Faithfulness and Hope
  • The Bottom Line

The Symbol of Rain

Rain is a powerful symbol that we can interpret in a variety of ways depending on the context in which it appears. Rain depicts God as our source of physical and spiritual life. Yet rain can also appear as God’s act of judgment against sin or wrongdoing.

Rain (or some form of it) appears over 100 times in the Bible. It holds special significance that is important to understand along our spiritual journey. What exactly does rain mean and symbolize throughout Scripture?

Photo by Liv Bruce on Unsplash

God Our Provider

In the Old Testament, God is the provider who gives life-giving water to all living things (Genesis 2:5, ESV; Psalm 145:8, ESV). He is also seen as the source of refreshing rain for the land.

For example, the farmer’s hope in times of drought and hunger (Deuteronomy 11:10, ESV). In this way, God provides sustenance and refreshment in times of need.

Photo by Ed Leszczynskl on Unsplash

Judgment and Destruction

But what does rain symbolize when God sends a deluge over the whole land? Flooding rain is often associated with God’s judgment. Remember the story of Noah?

The Great Flood recorded in Genesis 7-8 resulted from God’s wrath against sin. God sent rain for 40 days and 40 nights (Genesis 7:12, ESV), which flooded the entire earth.

The floodwaters rose so high that they covered even mountaintops. All dry land disappeared and killed every living creature except those aboard Noah’s Ark. Even though rain is often associated with giving life, it can be destructive when wielded by a holy God. 

There are instances when God withheld rain from falling. Without water, nothing can grow or live and disease becomes rampant. We cannot survive without life-giving rain that God sends from His heavenly storehouses.

Photo by Elias Null on Unsplash

Rain as God’s Punishment

But what does rain symbolize when it does not come? Withholding rain is often associated with God’s punishment, though not always complete destruction. When we see references to rain in the Bible, we need to keep in mind that it might not always be a positive thing. 

Here are some ways that rain appears in the negative sense that foretell God’s punishment:

  • Dark Clouds
  • Dry Ground
  • Rainy Season
  • Difficult Times
  • Hard Times
  • Dry Season
  • End Times
  • Last Time
  • Late Rain
Photo by Max Saeling on Unsplash

Renewal, Restoration, and Revival

Even though the Great Flood was God’s judgment, there were blessings when the pouring rain ended. When Noah’s ark landed after being afloat for almost a year, Noah sent out a dove to find out if there was any dry land.

After a few tries, the dove returned carrying an olive branch. Noah realized that his family could soon disembark and begin their new life together. The first thing they did was worship the Lord and begin planting a vineyard to make new wine. Revival!

Photo by iuliu illes on Unsplash

Seasons Matter

As Christians, we know that seasons not only occur in nature, but they occur in our own life journeys. Some seasons bring joy, while others usher in hardship. Yet each season holds God’s specific purpose.

Spring seasons bring new life and growth to every living thing. Fall brings the harvest of God’s plenty. And winter reminds us that rest is necessary for all other seasons to reach peak production. So let’s look at what rain symbolized in Scripture during various seasons.

Photo by Mario Dobelmann on Unsplash

Hebrew Words for Rain

Three Hebrew words denote rains of different seasons. Yoreh or moreh refers to the early (or former) rain. Melqosh refers to the latter rain. Geshem refers to the winter rains.

The Early Rain

The rain of autumn commenced around late October or early November. These early rains (also called former rains) lasted for two months as heavy downpours. Each time I toured the Holy Land in November, cloudless beautiful days greeted our group. Perhaps climate change has altered this in our current times.

In God’s Word, we find these early rains in Hosea and Joel:

  • Yoreh: “Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge Him. As surely as the sun rises, He will appear; He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth” (Hosea 6:3, NIV).
  • Moreh: “Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for He has given you the autumn rains because He is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before” (Joel 2:23, NIV).
Photo by Johnny McClung on Unsplash

The Latter Rain

The rain of spring falls in March and April. These latter rains (melqosh) serve to mature the planted grain. No rain usually falls after April until the early rains in October or November:

  • “He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil” (Deuteronomy 11:14, ESV).
  • “In the light of a king’s face there is life, and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain” (Proverbs 16:15, ESV).
Photo by Christina Rumpf on Unsplash

The Winter Rain

The rain of winter commences in the middle of December and lasts through March. Heavy winter rain (geshem) often refers to an ominous, damaging, or destructive rain. There is no prolonged fair weather in Israel between October and March.

  • “And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights” (Genesis 7:12, ESV).
  • “Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin assembled at Jerusalem within the three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month. And all the people sat in the open square before the house of God, trembling because of this matter and because of the heavy rain” (Ezra 10:9, ESV).
Photo by Lola Guti on Unsplash

Physical Need for Rain

Rainfall is vital to agriculture, which is also true throughout the Bible. Crops such as olives, dates, figs, wheat, barley, and grapes all thrive in the Middle East. Without sufficient rainfall, these crops would not be able to grow.

Livestock such as sheep and goats also enjoy rainfall, as they need water to drink and grass to eat. 

Not only is rainfall important for plants and animals, but it is also essential for every human being. Water is necessary for all life; without it, we would perish. This is especially true during the hot summer months.

Absent rainfall, rivers and wells run dry leaving no source of fresh water. Disease and death often result from unclean or stagnant water. We need rain and the clean water it brings to survive.

Photo by Jeffrey Workman on Unsplash

Rain Can Symbolize the Anger of God

In 1 Kings 17, we see God’s anger. It says “Now Elijah…said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word?” (1 Kings 17:1, NIV)

At this point, Elijah challenged Ahab (the king of Israel) because they had endured a 3-year drought. The prophet Elijah wanted to see if Ahab would turn back to God despite any other consequences.

First Kings 17 later reveals: “For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land’” (1 Kings 17:14, NIV).

True to His Word, God sent a heavy downpour within 24 hours that amounted to seven years worth of rainfall. That’s a LOT of rain.

Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

Rain Also Symbolizes God’s Blessing

One of the most common ways rain shows up in the Bible is in reference to the blessings of God.

Psalm 147 offers a great example of this symbolism of rain. It represents the many blessings God bestows on His people. “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre! He covers the heavens with clouds; He prepares rain for the earth; He makes grass grow on the hills” (Psalm 147:7-8, ESV).

Here are some ways that rain appears in the positive sense that reflect God’s blessing:

  • showers of blessing
  • good luck
  • abundant rain
  • rain dreams
  • appearance of the rainbow
  • sign of the Covenant
  • power of God
  • good land
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Rain Reflects God’s Eternal Grace

Isaiah 30 paints a beautiful picture of the eternal blessings believers will experience.

“And He will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and bread, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. And on every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water” (Isaiah 30:23, 25a, ESV).

Photo by Abigail Keenan on Unsplash

God’s Rainbow of Promise

After talking at length about the significance of rain, we would be remiss if we left out rainbows. Rainbows are one of the most popular symbols in connection with rain. Regardless of our current popular culture’s definition, what is God’s purpose for rainbows? What do they mean?

In ancient times, rainbows represented a sign from God. People would see the rainbow and remember God’s promise in Genesis:

“And God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh'” (Genesis 9:12-15, ESV).

Photo by David Brooke Martin on Unsplash

God’s Rainbow of Faithfulness and Hope

God’s famous appearance of the bow to Noah is not the only time rainbows slip into the pages of Scripture. Among other places, rainbows also appear in the Book of Revelation:

“At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne” (Revelation 4:2-3, NIV).

We see here that the rainbow continues to be a symbol from God. The rainbow encircling the throne reminds believers of His faithfulness, mercy, and hope. Rainbows remind us that God is always with us regardless of the storms we experience.

The rainbow is one of nature’s most beautiful and awe-inspiring symbols from God. Apart from that vision in Revelation, rainbows symbolize hope, change, and new beginnings.

Every rainbow reminds us of God’s never-ending love and His covenant to never leave us or forsake us. No matter what storms we face in life, God is always with us and He will see us through to the other side.

Photo by Jorge Fernández Salas on Unsplash

The Bottom Line

God promises that every believer receives an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit in us provides the crucial discernment we need each day. In His strength, we can face every season of life we experience, whether stormy or temperate.

Rain represents many different elements in the Bible. Blessings and grace to judgment and punishment. The spiritual meaning of rain goes deep. Regardless of life’s storms, we trust that our heavenly Father holds the weather, our lives, and everything else in His mighty hands.

In the New Testament, Jesus also controlled the weather when He calmed a raging storm on the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 14:22-32, NIV). In every instance, God commands complete control over nature.

There is no element that He cannot command into submission. What comfort!

No matter what storms or challenges God’s children face in life, our God is always in control. Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall.


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About the Author
Although Donna is a sought-after Bible teacher, her path from being unchurched to become passionate about sharing Jesus was not easy. Go here to read her God-breathed journey, “From Unchurched to Becoming a Multi-Published Author and Sought-After Speaker.” If you want to send Donna a quick message, then visit her contact page here.

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