Shaped Through Scripture Reading by Terri Prahl
The day after I gave birth for the first time, I was wheeled out of the hospital with empty arms and a broken heart. Our first son, Ryan, was stillborn. I was immediately hurled into a deep chasm of grief, disillusionment, and doubt. I questioned whether God really loved me and found it hard to spend time with Him daily as I had before. And yet, I felt lost without Him. I knew He was the answer I needed but was stuck in my bitterness over what He had allowed to happen.
I had never experienced a loss of this magnitude, and I had to fight and wrestle with God to keep the darkness from swallowing me in my sorrow.
My prayers were not eloquent or rote. They were cries of help and deliverance. My trust and faith in Jesus had been put to the test, and a new relationship was forming that would be deeply forged by fire and slowly rendered as gold.
Many days I would open my Bible and stare blankly, questioning how it would profit me or if it would relate to me in any way. Still, I kept trying. Finally, one day, I felt led to read Psalm 119. This is the longest book in the Bible, so I almost saw the 176 verses and closed it back up. As I began to read, certain words and phrases popped out to me and soothed my discontented spirit: life-giving, hope-filled, blessed, happy, delightful, wondrous, strength in sorrow, the goodness of God, His faithfulness, and how reading Scripture preserves, protects, and comforts the reader.
The thing I had avoided was the life-giving practice I needed. Knowing God, who is truth, literally releases us from the bondage of our flesh and the propensity to sin. His character revealed in the written word sets us free. My grief was holding me hostage. Every attempt on my part to “pull myself up by my bootstraps”, “muster the strength to go on”, and “find something to distract me from the pain”, only left me more cynical and empty.
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32 ESV).
The practice of abiding with Christ through His word is the path to spiritual freedom. When life becomes hard in the waiting, His word reminds us that it will end, there is hope, and nothing we face will compare with the glory that awaits. This is the beauty of remembrance. The Bible is the key to remembering the faithfulness of God.
During the year that followed my son’s death, I kept showing up and slowly digesting parts of Psalm 119. It truly was life-giving. The words shifted my perspective of the pain and realities of living in this broken, unredeemed world. It stole my bitterness one reading at a time and quenched my thirst in ways I never imagined. Reading my Bible is the spiritual practice that restored my trust in my Father and led me through the tunnel of sadness back into the light of sweet fellowship with Christ. His word sets us free, and I am so thankful He drew me back through the words written long ago.
It’s a beautiful gift to each of us. May we never take it for granted.
Terri Prahl is an aspiring author whose greatest desire is to encourage believers to make every effort to pursue Christ and love Scripture. Terri is an introverted and introspective, creative soul that loves walking in nature, studying Scripture, reading non-fiction, perusing flea markets, and mentoring young women. She writes about her faith journey of resting and wrestling at www.terriprahl.com. She lives in the beautiful Ozark Mountains with her husband and young adult daughter.