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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Don’t forget to claim your free ebook! 

 


When All You Want for Christmas Is a Baby


When All You Want for Christmas Is a Baby: A Spiritual Survival Guide for When You’re TTC at Christmas

Ah, Christmas. The most wonderful time of the year. . . unless you’re going through infertility. Every commercial mocks your pain: angel-eyed toddlers looking oh-so-squeezable in red and white striped pajamas, waiting wide-eyed for Santa. (And how about that Pampers commercial they play 5,000 times every season with all the babies sleeping to “Silent Night”? Excruciating!) Every trip to the mailbox is an assault on your soul, every Christmas card a test of your gratitude, your self-confidence, your ability to keep jealousy at bay: babies in Santa hats, toddlers on Santa’s lap, and best (meaning worst) of all: the pregnancy-announcement-slash-Christmas-card combo, a double whammy! It’s enough to make the sanest and holiest of us Google things like “1,000 ways to blow up a mailbox.”

And then there’s the dilemma of your own Christmas card situation: Do you get a dramatic haircut so something looks different from last year’s card? Buy a puppy? Put an asterisk on the empty space between you and your husband and include a line on the back of the card that says, *A baby should be here. Yes, we’ve been trying to start a family FOR AGES, and no, we don’t want advice about ovulation and base temperature?

As a survivor of several Baby-less Christmases, I want to encourage you that with God’s help, you can have a joyful holiday season, even if you are also enduring a season of infertility. You can have fun. You can stay sane. You can enjoy the life you have even while you pray for the life you want.

Here are a few strategies that helped me and Kevin survive our TTC Christmases (TTC means Trying to Conceive):

1–Battle envy with love and self-pity with gratitude.

The Christmas season can make us more painfully aware of our own empty arms compared to our friends’ full ones. Romans 12:21 encourages us to “overcome evil with good.” Whenever I was tempted to envy friends their babies or pregnancies, I worked to resist envy by focusing on how much I loved my friends. I deliberately centered on thoughts like this: I love this friend. I am happy that God has blessed her with a family. I am glad she is not suffering through infertility. I pray she enjoys a fulfilling Christmas season being pregnant/being a mom, just as I hope to enjoy my own Christmas in my own way. (And then I ran to the nearest Starbucks and drowned my sorrows in a decaf mocha.)

We have to deliberately combat self-pity with gratitude. When the Enemy whispers, “God is holding out on you. Your life is terrible. Everyone else has more than you,” we have to replace those lies—which lead only to sadness and bitterness—with the only thing powerful enough to overcome them: gratitude. Remind yourself of God’s goodness, thinking through all the gifts he has already given you—be as specific as you can. I like to make gratitude lists and read them to God in prayer!

2–Think ahead, and be gentle with yourself.

Christmas heightens our emotions, and if you’re going through infertility, you’re probably going to feel more fragile during holiday seasons.

We all have things that trigger us: seeing pregnant women or new moms; walking within 100 feet of the baby aisle; Instagram bump-dates. If you can identify the things that most hurt you and tempt you to feel down, then you can plan ahead to either avoid those situations entirely, or at least to experience them in smaller, more manageable doses (doses that you have spiritually and emotionally prepared yourself to handle).

For example, let’s revisit the Christmas card issue. If you hold your breath every time you open a card, waiting for temptation to take you down—the stab of envy when you see the umpteenth baby swaddled in a stocking; the painful sense of insecurity or even inferiority when you see yet another friend walking across a field holding hands with her children and just looking so daggum motherly and complete—then go easy on yourself. You don’t have to drool over every baby picture and linger over every life update. Set the Christmas cards aside and open them in batches with your husband at your side. Pray and set your heart on celebrating the lives of the people you love, give the cards a quick once-over, and move on with your life. Your life, the life God gave you—a life that is fully meaningful and valuable and packed with love, with or without a baby. (And hey—if you really can’t handle the baby’s-first-Christmas-themed cards, who’s to know if you skip opening them altogether?!)

If you usually buy gifts for a family in need, but the idea of shopping for someone else’s kids brings up too many sad feelings this year, perhaps you can buy gifts for an adult instead. Or bypass the whole gift-shopping idea and donate food to your local food bank or time to a soup kitchen.

Social media. . . take it easy for a while, my friend, unless you have a superpower that makes you immune to envy.

And can we talk Christmas pageants? My advice is to head to the bathroom for a nice long break during the kids’ performances at church. I mean, the heart can only take so much.

Infertility is hard enough on regular days; during the Christmas season, go as easy on yourself as you can. Even though I joke about these things, I’m not suggesting we make excuses for becoming selfish or cynical or rude—but it’s not wrong to shelter ourselves a bit from some of the difficulties the holidays bring. It’s wise to think ahead, plan ahead, and pray ahead.

3–Be intentional in your thinking. 

It’s oh-so-tempting to spend the entire holiday thinking about all the things you wish you were doing this Christmas…the baby you wish you were holding, the toys you wish you were buying, the sleep (weird as it sounds) you wish you weren’t getting.

And if Satan has his way, that’s all we will think about. We’ll be consumed by the sad things, the loss, the hole in our hearts. And in so doing, we give away any chance of joy. We give away our happiness, our gratitude, and our perspective.

I’m not saying your sadness and pain and the hole in your heart are not real. They are real. Your sadness is valid. Your loss is legitimate. But we can choose what we focus on this holiday season—and always.

Christian tips for infertility

Focusing on what we don’t have has never been God’s way. All throughout scripture, God encourages his people to remember what he has already done for them. What gifts they do have (even if they still lack some things they want—or even things they need). I love David’s attitude in Psalm 13–begging for relief even as he remembers God’s past kindness:

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me. –Psalm 13, emphasis added

Here is a simple strategy that helps me reclaim control of my mood when I’m hurting (adapted from my book When God Says “Wait”):

–Take a moment every morning to write down 3 things you have to look forward to that day. (Some days you might be really stretching things, but that’s okay: This morning I’ll splurge and put fancy creamer in my coffee; today I get to meet a friend at the gym; tonight I’ll get to snuggle with my husband and re-watch Stranger Things.) No matter how difficult life is, we all have good things in store in every day, if we’ll just train ourselves to pay attention.

–Take a moment every evening to write down 3 things you are grateful for from that day: God prompted a friend to send an encouraging text just when I was feeling down; I got a phone call from my mother (I have a mother! She is alive and she loves me enough to call me!); I laughed at lunch with a friend.

Exercises like these bring gratitude and a healthy, big-picture perspective into our lives.

4–Be proactive in planning your holiday season. Focus on fun!

Christmas 2004 was rough for me and Kevin. It was the third Christmas since we’d started trying to conceive. Everything in me wanted to hide in my bedroom all December watching Die Hard, the most non-kid-related but still vaguely Christmasy movie I could find (ahem—even Die Hard has one annoying reference to the pregnant woman who needed a couch to sit on—no movie is safe when you can’t get pregnant!).

But I decided to fight back. Baby or no baby, I still loved Christmas, and I didn’t want infertility to ruin my favorite time of the year.

That year Kevin and I were intentional about doing a lot of fun things—fun things we might not be able to do, we reminded ourselves, if we had a baby in tow! We deliberately made new memories together. We decorated our house like crazy and made it feel festive. If memory serves, that was the year we drove out to the country to a Christmas tree farm and cut down our own tree. We went to late movies and made ourselves sick on popcorn. We slept as late as we wanted and cooked fancy breakfasts. We went a little crazy splurging on gifts for our siblings. We planned a fun vacation for the following spring.

Try this: Sit down with your spouse and make a list of things that would be fun to do this Christmas season, maybe some things like. . .

–Take an overnight trip away, just the two of you

–Cut down your own tree

–Go to a wine tasting or concert

–Watch a holiday light show

–We are always happier when we are giving. Find ways to serve your community: My favorite way to serve at Christmastime is to visit seniors in nursing homes (ahem, added bonus: not one of the nursing home residents will be pregnant!). Call ahead and ask how you can give: You can bring cards, sing Christmas carols, help with their Christmas activities and parties, or just sit and chat with the residents. Get ready to hear some amazing stories!

(Check out these related posts for more ideas: Have a Merry Married Christmas, and 10 Questions to Ask Now to Have Your Best December Ever.)

Christmas can be tough when you can’t get pregnant, but with focus and prayer, you can still claim joy. You can make memories and have fun. You can remain grateful and spiritual. You can stay close to your husband. You can sidestep the Enemy’s traps of envy, self-pity, and sadness.

Are you struggling to conceive this Christmas? My heart is with you. Send me your name—I’d love to pray for you!

-xoxo, Elizabeth


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6 Scriptures to Read When You’re Sad


Photo by Claudia Soraya on Unsplash.

When we’re sad, it can be tempting to medicate our problems with temporary things—things that distract, things that numb. We turn to social media, to people, to food, to alcohol, to Netflix. But God’s Word is powerful, offering help and hope and healing that endure. Not easy fixes, but true comfort.

Here are some of my favorite scriptures to read during dark times—six Bible verses to read when you’re sad or depressed.

We could have listed six hundred, because the Bible is packed with encouragement, but we’ll limit ourselves to six. Most are short and simple. Some speak of God’s love and faithfulness and concern for us as individuals; others offer an eternal perspective on temporary troubles. I pray they minister to you as they have ministered to me. (Looking for Bible verses to read when you’re anxious? Click here to read some of my favorites.)

1.

Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
    praise his holy name.
  For his anger lasts only a moment,
    but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
    but rejoicing comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:4–5 NIV)

His favor lasts a lifetime…joy comes in the morning. 

2.

But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
    you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
    you are the helper of the fatherless. (Psalm 10:14 NIV)

God sees us. He considers—takes time to ponder, to study, to care about—our grief. He carries us, and our sadness, in his capable hands. 

Bible verses to read when you are sad or depressed; Bible verses for depression

3.

 “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” (Matthew 10:28–31 NLT)

God knows us—he knows us better than we know ourselves. (Do you know how many hairs are on your head?!). We are valuable to him. 


Want more scriptures to see you through hard times? Sign up for my newsletter here and I’ll send you a free ebook:

How to Find God—and Joy–When Life Is Hard


4.

A slight twist on the familiar Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6 is most people’s go-to version, but I like some of Luke’s phrasing here): 

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:27–32 NIV)

How I love that sweet phrasing at the end: “little flock”! I can just see an affectionate twinkle in Jesus’ eyes as he spoke these words to the people he loved! And God is pleased to give us his kingdom, his best. 

5.

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. . . . 

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:51–53, 56–58 NIV)

We will be changed! This world is not the end of us, and death holds no permanent power. Our labor for God is not in vain. 

6.

This one is a mouthful, but I just can’t abbreviate it. Hang with it till the end—you’ll be glad you did! It’s like taking a sip of water from a fire hydrant (an encouraging fire hydrant). 🙂 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,  just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:3–12, NRSV)

Do you get what this is saying? Our salvation is no accident. We didn’t get lucky and slip past the sin detectors and sneak into the kingdom of God. Unworthy as we are, unworthy as we feel, God counts us worthy in Christ. He chose us, and he chose us on purpose! In fact, it made him happy to choose us (“he destined us for adoption…according to the good pleasure of his will”). And imperfect as we are, through Christ God makes us holy, gives us every spiritual blessing we need, and shows us off to the world as children who bring him glory. Our lives in Christ make God look good. Amazing!


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