10 Bible Verses to Read When You’re Overwhelmed


10 Bible Verses to Read When You’re Overwhelmed

“Overwhelming” doesn’t quite do justice to what the world is going through, does it? The whole planet is wary, weary, and uneasy. Stress levels are high, the future is uncertain, and daily life is disrupted. In times like this, how blessed we are to have Scripture to guide us. If you’re feeling anxious, stressed, or overwhelmed, these ten scriptures can help you draw close to God and find a measure of peace and hope to see you through.

1.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NLT

Sometimes we unconsciously expect Jesus to take away all our troubles. Life in Christ is supposed to be a peaceful piece of cake, right? Unfortunately, nope. That’s not the deal. We aren’t promised freedom from trouble and sorrow, but we are promised communion with the One who can ultimately set things right. We are promised joy and peace in him even as chaos (and the coronavirus) rages on. Even as the world shuts down and toilet paper runs out.

And because of his promise, we take heart. We find courage. We fight on. And we find peace in him.

2.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

God invites you to cast all your anxiety onto His almighty shoulders. ALL. No care is too small. From your sick cat to your work deadlines to your family strife; from your virus fears to the challenges of working from home with kids underfoot, to your dwindling supply of toilet paper, God wants to hear about it. He welcomes it. If it matters to you, it matters to Him. So go ahead. Cast away.

3.

God is our refuge and strength,
a helper who is always found
in times of trouble.
Therefore we will not be afraid,
though the earth trembles
and the mountains topple
into the depths of the seas,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with its turmoil. Psalm 46:1–3 HCSB

“A helper who is always found in times of trouble.” God is always here—He will never, ever practice social distance! Need we say more? And yet there is more to say! Sometimes the earth trembles. Mountains fall. Waters roar. But God stays the same. And He is ready to listen, ready to help, ready to support.

4.

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life…. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 1 Kings 19:3–9

Elijah, one of the most mighty of all the prophets, once became utterly overwhelmed and discouraged—so overwhelmed and discouraged that he asked God to end his life. Did God rebuke Elijah, “fire” him as his prophet, and banish him from salvation? No! God was gentle with Elijah, sending him an angel and food to strengthen him, giving him the time he needed to rest and recover physically and emotionally. Our God is gentle, compassionate, and kind.

You know what else I love about this story—and our God?

Our God does not roll his eyes when we make melodramatic statements.

Our God does not throw up his hands when we fall apart—he draws near. He comes out to meet us in the cave.

And when we are ready, he helps us walk out of that cave to face life again.

5.

It is God who arms me with strength
and keeps my way secure.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he causes me to stand on the heights.
He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You make your saving help my shield,
and your right hand sustains me;
your help has made me great.
You provide a broad path for my feet,
so that my ankles do not give way. Psalm 18:32–36

When life is overwhelming, let us remember the source of our strength: God. He equips us and sustains us, He shields us and trains us.

 


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6.

So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12: 7– 10 NLT

Why is God letting this happen to me? Why isn’t He taking it away? Why doesn’t life ever seem to get any easier? We can’t pretend to know the mind of God, but we can draw comfort from Paul’s experience: God doesn’t always take away our troubles, but He does support us through them. Amazingly—mysteriously—His power is revealed in our weakness. And like Paul, when we are vulnerable and brave enough to admit—to ourselves and to others—“Hey, this is a tough time for me. I’m struggling”—we give people the chance to show compassion and God’s power the chance to shine.

 

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7.

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba,Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:32–36

It’s not wrong to be sad, afraid, or in need. Even Jesus was overwhelmed with sorrow. Even Jesus fell to His knees, overcome with emotion. Even Jesus needed God and friends to sustain Him in His hour of need.

8.

I am worn out waiting for your rescue,
but I have put my hope in your word.
My eyes are straining to see your promises come true.
When will you comfort me?
I am shriveled like a wineskin in the smoke,
but I have not forgotten to obey your decrees.
How long must I wait?
When will you punish those who persecute me? 

Psalm 119:81–84 NLT

Sometimes we wait so long for rescue that it wears us down and wears us out. We strain to see God, to find hope, but the view stays the same. And yet we continue to pray. Like the Psalmist, we continue to seek God, to make our case, to plead for help.

9.

The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.

In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears….

He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Psalm 18:5–6, 16–19

This is it. The most suffering I can bear. If you have ever hit that rock-bottom breaking point, take heart. It doesn’t mean you’re faithless or weak. It means you need God—and He is ready. Ready to step in to support you however He sees fit. Why? Because He delights in you.

10.

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:7–10 NLT

Paul and his companions were “pressed on every side by troubles”—but not crushed. Perplexed, hunted down, knocked down…talk about an overwhelming series of events! And yet they soldiered on, finding connection with Christ’s anguish in their own suffering; finding hope in God’s sustaining hand as they struggled on.

*****

It’s okay to feel overwhelmed—but the Bible can help.

When we put all these scriptures together like this, we see that it’s not sinful or faithless to experience times when we feel stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed. Sometimes life is hard. And sometimes, just when we think we’ve reached our maximum pain threshold, life hits a new level of hard.

But that doesn’t mean we are not loved or seen by God.

It is in times like these that we are invited to cast our anxieties, our sufferings, and our fears on God—every last detail, every agonizing tear.

Even if God doesn’t swoop in to turn our circumstances around, we can know that we have his ear, his concern, and his heart. We can draw on his strength when ours runs out. We can draw from his hope when ours is gone. And we can draw near to Him when we have nothing else left, confident that He draws near to us in return.

 


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When God Says, “I Love You”


Bible verses for when you feel unloved

When God says, “I love you”: Let’s take a look at the one place in the Bible where God actually says those three precious words we all long to hear: “I love you.” (He says them, and shows them, of course, ten thousand different ways throughout Scripture, but this passage has the exact words “I love you,” in nearly every translation.) These are words God spoke to comfort the nation of Israel during a difficult time, and these words transcend time and circumstance to proclaim God’s love for us, His people, today:

Bible study for when you are lonely

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you…” (Isaiah 43:2–5)


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When we know how loved we are by God, it takes away our fear: fear of hurt, fear of abandonment, fear of the unknown future. It’s not that we think, “God loves me; therefore my life should be a walk in the park: no struggles, no dangers, no losses.” This scripture doesn’t say, “If you pass through fire and water, I will be with you”—it says “when.” Everyone endures struggle, danger, and loss, even the most righteous of people. Hardship is not a sign of God’s disapproval or punishment—it is an inescapable part of life in this fallen world. But Christians can walk through life confident and joyful, knowing that God will see them through, and love them through, whatever hardship may come. He will guide and protect, comfort and console. That’s how God says, “I love you.”


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When God Shows Up


This Sunday at church, we enjoyed a casual, family-style service in which we expressed our gratitude by sharing our God Moments—stories about times when God has shown up to reveal His love or to see us through hard times. I cried like 18 times, because our God is so good. It was one of those wondrous times when you can actually feel your faith growing. We heard about…

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-God sending strangers to encourage and strengthen a young, scared couple as they arrived at the hospital to witness the birth of their soon-to-be adopted child.

-The night before the first day of school, a nervous kindergartener and her even-more-nervous mom ask God to help the girl find a friend before the mom drops the child off the next day. The next morning, they walk up to the school hand in hand, join the back of the registration line, and are immediately greeted by the girl standing in front of them. She spins around, flashes a grin, and says, “Hi! I’m Sophia! Can I be your friend?”

-A ten-year-old girl announcing, “I am going to be a missionary in Africa one day.” She feels it in her heart like a promise from God. But years pass. She has no idea how she could ever end up ministering in Africa—she’s from the Midwest and she’s not in the full-time ministry—but the promise and dream never leave her. And then in her fifties, God opens up a dream job…in Africa. She and her husband spend years there strengthening a small church.

-And this one—this from a faith-filled 11-year-old boy who had us all in a puddle on the floor: When he was three, he asked God for a dad because his own father had abandoned their family. He also asked for a brother and a sister. Within two years, God gave him all three.


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What’s your story? We all have them—those moments big and small where God shows up to whisper (or maybe shout), “I’m here and I care.” He shows up in myriad ways: through small kindnesses from other people, through crazy turns of events we never saw coming, and even—every once in a while—through surprise checks in the mail when our need is most dire! This week as we continue to thank God for blessings big and small, I encourage you to take a moment to look back on your life. To remember. To look for God’s hand in the pages of your life. To thank him again for his countless kindnesses over the years. To share them with others who may need a boost in their faith.

Then I encourage you to watch for more God Moments. They happen every day, if we’ll only keep our eyes and hearts open enough to notice. To rejoice. To savor. And then, like the leper who came back to Jesus, let us come back again and again to thank and to praise.

Want to give God glory by sharing a God Moment in the comments? How has He shown up to reveal His love for you? I’d love to hear!


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**Don’t forget to sign up to receive 7 free family devotions and a free ebook! (Click here.)** 

 


When You Wish You Had More to Give


Bible study about giving talents to God

Image courtesy of skalekar1992 and Pixabay

Bible study about giving talents to God

A young boy elbows his way to the front of the crowd and tugs on a man’s sleeve. Andrew looks down to see the boy holding out an open sack. Inside Andrew sees five small loaves of bread nestled beside two cooked fish. “I heard the rabbi ask for food,” the boy says with a shy shrug. “My mother packed this for me, and—she said I should share with someone who doesn’t have anything.”

Eyebrows raised, Andrew places a hand on the boy’s shoulder and walks him over to Jesus. Jesus turns and twinkles a smile down at the child; Andrew flashes Jesus a sheepish grin. “So…this boy has offered to share his lunch, but” —he casts a glance over his shoulder at the thousands of people milling around behind him, waiting to hear the rabbi’s next words— “how far will they go among so many?”

Jesus tousles the boy’s dark hair and gives him a smile and a wink. “Thank you, son. This is just what I need.” The boy looks down at his sandals, blushing with pride. Rubbing His palms together, Jesus turns to Andrew with an excited—almost  mischievous—glint in his eye. Andrew has seen this look before; a tingle of anticipation floods his veins. With barely contained glee, Jesus says, “Have the people sit down.”

He rolls up His sleeves.


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We all know the rest of the famous account in John 6—how Jesus goes on to turn a little boy’s lunch into a feast for thousands. He makes so much food that the disciples collect twelve basketfuls of leftovers!

We often look at our gifts—our talents, our possessions, our skills, our wisdom—and think, “They aren’t worth much. How far can they really go?” Let us never underestimate what God can do with our “small” offerings. We don’t have to give Him the biggest thing, the best thing, the shiniest thing—we just have to give Him whatever we have to offer. The smallest gift is still a treasure in His eyes. Our gifts may be small, but our God is big. And His powerful hands can take our small gifts and multiply them. Our mighty God can turn a little into a lot—more than we could ever imagine. What small gift can you offer to Jesus today?

Family devotion or small-group discussion application:

You could easily turn this into a family devotion or small-group discussion by reading this story alongside John 6:1–14 and Luke 21:1–3. Then ask simple application questions like:

  • Do we have to be rich (or grown-up or successful or…) to give to God? Does God care how big our gifts are?
  • Read 2 Corinthians 9:7. What does God care about in our giving? What does it mean to be a cheerful giver? What are some ways you can give more cheerfully and generously…at home? At school? At church? At work? In your friendships?
  • What are you good at? (Don’t just think about skills—think about character traits like encouraging or serving, too. See Romans 12:1–8 for a list of gifts.) How could you use those talents or traits to serve other people and honor God?
  • What talent or gift would you offer to God if you weren’t insecure or afraid?

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My books, When God Says, “Go” and When God Says, “Wait.” Every chapter begins with an extended Bible story like the one you read in this post!

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**Don’t forget to sign up to receive 7 free family devotions and a free ebook! (Click here.)**