Why Is It So Hard?
I had seen her before during a different stay at the jail, but I was never quite sure how to take her lighthearted attitude and silly comments. Women in the jail are dealing with a lot of issues. Some of the women are taxed physically, as they are detoxing and withdrawing from drugs and other addictions. Their usual coping tools are not available to them in the jail, and they may not have developed others yet, so they are often at their wit’s end, struggling and weak.
Mindful of this, I was unsure what to attribute Liz’s attitude. She would randomly blurt out things that didn’t always make sense, may not be appropriate, and always a bit distracting. Was she trying to entertain the group? Was she not able to communicate appropriately? Was she just uncomfortable, or were there other distractions and spiritual issues that I was unaware of?
As we began with prayer requests that day, Liz asked that we pray for her. She wanted help controlling her negative thoughts; she desired strength and spiritual guidance. The depth of Liz’s thinking was shining through her robust personality today. We prayed and began our study. Then, Liz abruptly changed the course of our study by blurting out, “What is it about this book? Why is it so hard for me to read?” She then went on to share, “At first, I thought it was a difference in culture. Some of my people (she was Native American) would not approve of me reading the Bible.” But then she went on to tell us how many of her family had turned to the Lord later in life, as their time on earth was nearing an end.
We talked about how the devil really does not want us to hear God’s Word, since His Word brings us freedom from condemnation and the devil’s power. Liz apologized for diverting the group. I assured her that every question is valuable, and we went on with our study.
I cannot know or see all the distractions that the women are facing, as they sit in our Bible study each week. Nor do I know the daily battle going on in their hearts when they struggle to pick up a Bible, turn to a section of God’s Word, and listen to our Good, Mighty and Loving God speak to them. I could not answer Liz’s question directly when she asked why the Bible is so hard for her, but I do know that God is working in her heart as she continues to join us.
I always encourage the ladies to come back the next week, and as we left the room that day, I heard Liz say in a quiet voice, “I wish I could study with you some more.” The door was already closing when I heard this, so I was unable to follow up. Perhaps this was just the Holy Spirit reaching out to Liz amidst the distractions that fill her life. God certainly knows all the challenges that face these ladies, and day after day, He continues to work in their hearts.
Chaplain Sarah Guenther