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.

 


Let’s keep in touch! Sign up for my newsletter and I’ll send you a free ebook, How to Find God—and Joy—When Life Is Hard


 

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.

 

how to help preteens with depression

 

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.

 


If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

When God Says Wait: Navigating Life's Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind

how to overcome insecurity

 

When Your Life Feels Wasted

8 Scriptures to Read When You’re Anxious

When Life Stinks

When Mugs Break: Lessons in Fear

On Pinkeye, Lice, and Love

Don’t forget to claim your free ebook! 

 


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.


Let’s keep in touch! Sign up for my newsletter and I’ll send you 7 family devotions and a free ebook, How to Find God—and Joy—When Life Is Hard


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?

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

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!

When God Says Wait: Navigating Life's Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind

how to overcome insecurity

When Your Life Feels Wasted

These Days of Small Things 

Starfish Wisdom

8 Scriptures to Read When You’re Anxious

Too Tall Too Soon

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


Three Psalms to Inspire Gratitude


3 psalms to help you pray grateful prayers

Gratitude is so good for our hearts. It reminds us to look past today’s temporary troubles to see the big picture of God’s everlasting care and concern. It reminds us that life is not as dark as it sometimes feels. It heals our wounds and protects us from bitterness. It reminds us of God’s faithfulness in the past, which gives us confidence as we look to the future. Gratitude strengthens our faith, cures our self-centeredness, and makes us happier people. The minute we start thinking about things we are grateful for, our mood and perspective start to shift. (Try it! Quick—think about 5 things you are thankful for. I bet you feel happier already, don’t you? Keep going with that list and you might even hit warm-and-cozy-in-a-cuddly-blanket-on-a-cold-fall-day levels of happiness!)

With Thanksgiving upon us (How is that possible? I just vacuumed the summer sand out of my car!), we are all looking for ways to express gratitude. I love borrowing words from the psalms to guide my prayers. I start by reading the psalm aloud to God, and after a few verses I usually find myself taking detours, adding praise and thanks of my own inspired by the psalmist’s words. If your prayer life needs a boost in gratitude, try praying through these three psalms! I abbreviated them a little here, but they are (of course) beautiful in their entirety.

3 psalms to help you be thankful

Psalm 84

How lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
    for the living God. . . .
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
    they are ever praising you.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
    they make it a place of springs;
    the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
    till each appears before God in Zion. . . .

10 Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
    from those whose walk is blameless.

12 Lord Almighty,
    blessed is the one who trusts in you.

Psalm 89

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;
    with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known
    through all generations.
I will declare that your love stands firm forever,
    that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
    I have sworn to David my servant,
‘I will establish your line forever
    and make your throne firm through all generations.’”

The heavens praise your wonders, Lord,
    your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.
For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord?
    Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings?
In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared;
    he is more awesome than all who surround him.
Who is like you, Lord God Almighty?
    You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.

Psalm 66

Shout for joy to God, all the earth!
    Sing the glory of his name;
    make his praise glorious.
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
    So great is your power
    that your enemies cringe before you.
All the earth bows down to you;
    they sing praise to you,
    they sing the praises of your name.”

Come and see what God has done,
    his awesome deeds for mankind!
He turned the sea into dry land,
    they passed through the waters on foot—
    come, let us rejoice in him.
He rules forever by his power,
    his eyes watch the nations—
    let not the rebellious rise up against him. . . .

12 You let people ride over our heads;
    we went through fire and water,
    but you brought us to a place of abundance. . . .

16 Come and hear, all you who fear God;
    let me tell you what he has done for me.
17 I cried out to him with my mouth;
    his praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished sin in my heart,
    the Lord would not have listened;
19 but God has surely listened
    and has heard my prayer.
20 Praise be to God,
    who has not rejected my prayer
    or withheld his love from me!

Thank you for reading, and for sharing a bit of life with me here on this little corner of the Web. Wishing you a wonderful holiday with the ones you love.


Looking for a great gift for Thanksgiving or Christmas? When God Says “Wait” is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and ChristianBook.com. I am deeply thankful to all of you who have read, reviewed, and shared WGSW. You are on my heart and in my prayers.

When God Says Wait: Navigating Life's Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind


If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

On Pinkeye, Lice, and Love

When Life Poops on Your Party

13 Scriptures to Read with Your Daughter

Outshine the Dark

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave


Teaching Kids to “Go the Extra Mile”


Image courtesy of Pixabay

Me: “Hey, {insert child’s name}, will you help me {set the table/carry the laundry/vacuum the floor} ?”

Kid, with a dramatic groan: “But that’s not my chore this week!”

**Repeat variations of this conversation a dozen times, with all of my children, over several weeks.**

Me to myself: Time for a family talk.

With this attitude problem in mind, last week the kids and I held a quick devotion time before school. We turned to Matthew 5:41–42: “If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

Kind of a strange passage, right? Not your usual “encourage the kids to help around the house with a good attitude” scripture.

But hang with me.

First I had to explain the context of the passage to the kids. During Jesus’ day, the Romans occupied all Jewish territory. By law, Roman soldiers could force Jewish people to carry their equipment for them—they could just stop them on the side of the road and conscript them into service. No matter what the Jew was doing or where he was going, he had to stop and travel with the Roman as his temporary slave. (Remember Simon, the man who was forced to carry Jesus’ cross when Jesus couldn’t carry it himself (Mark 15:21)? That’s an example of this law in action.)

The only redeeming aspect of this law was its built-in limitation: the Roman could only force the Jew into service for one mile. We can imagine how humiliated the Jews must have felt by this practice—how slowly and angrily they must have walked while shouldering their enemy’s burden, how violently they must have dropped the baggage at the end of their mile of service.

To help the kids connect with the story, we acted this scene out using pillows from our couch. I played the part of the Roman soldier, and forced my son to carry my pillows across the room. I piled pillow after pillow into his arms, until he was giggling his head off, and his giggling head had completely disappeared behind a pile of pillows. Then he had to attempt to walk across the room.


Want more creative ideas for bringing God into your family life? Click here to sign up for my monthly parenting newsletter. As a welcome gift, you’ll receive a free download: seven two-minute devotions to do around the breakfast table with kids!


When everybody stopped laughing, we used this story to talk about Jesus’ expectations for his followers. Jesus called his disciples to have a completely different attitude than anyone else. Instead of giving in to anger and resentment, he called us to show the love and grace of God by going the extra mile. (And now you know where that phrase came from! Cool, right?) The disciple of Jesus shouldn’t just count his steps till he reaches the end of his required service, then drop the burden and stomp off in a bitter huff—no, the disciple of Jesus says, “Hey, Roman soldier, I’m enjoying your company so much, why don’t you let me carry this for you for another mile? And while I’m at it, let me tell you about a preacher named Jesus…” Jesus wants his people to exemplify kindness and grace, even in the face of injustice and cruelty. He wants us to do more than expected, and better than expected!

And how does this lesson translate into our daily life today? It means that as people who love Jesus, we always seek to have a great attitude no matter what—even if we are being mistreated. It means that we show the love of God to people who don’t “deserve” it. It means we do more than we have to, and we do it with a great attitude. In Colossians 3: 22–24, Paul has these words of admonition for slaves with their masters (I emphasized some phrases): “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” What a challenging attitude to attain, under painful circumstances—but what a great reward in the end!

We talked about having a “second-mile” attitude in our family life—in everything we do at school, in sports, in friendship, and at home. We talked about always looking for ways to serve and give, above and beyond what we are required to do. I asked the kids to work on having a better attitude about helping around the house—not thinking in terms of what’s on the chore chart, and what they have to do to earn allowance, but always striving to serve as much as they can, and with a generous spirit.

I have to say, the Bible is powerful. Jesus’ ways work. This simple scripture brought immediate change to all of our hearts (the kids’ and mine!), and has made our house a more helpful and Christ-like place to live. If you do this devotion with your family, I hope it inspires you all to give your best and go the extra mile! (And come back and let me know how it goes— either here in the comments, or on Facebook—I love hearing from you!)

Want to share this post? Thank you! Scroll down for share buttons. 


If you enjoyed this article, you might also like: 

The LizzyLife YouTube channel, with practical parenting tips! 

Everything You Need for Lice and Godliness

13 Scriptures to Help Siblings Get Along

When Your Kid Won’t Stop Whining

How Southerners Do Snow Days


Share this post: 


5 Simple Ways to Bring God into Your New Year


family devotion ideas for the new year

I’ll be honest: I’m not a big new year’s resolution girl. I find the idea of making a list of commitments for an entire year daunting. Perfectionist that I am, new year’s resolutions feel like an invitation to fail and feel guilty, all year long. (I know, I’m kind of dramatic. I’m working on it.)

But new starts and fresh attitudes for the new year? That I like. Drawing closer to God in the new year, and having a more spiritual focus? That I get excited about.

So now, instead of making new year’s resolutions, I view January as a time for re-charging my personal life and my walk with God, and for jump-starting our family’s spiritual life. January provides a fantastic opportunity to redirect our family’s focus outward and upward after the self-focus of the holidays.

Here are 5 simple ideas for helping your family jump-start your new year spiritually. Whether you’re married with no kids, or up to your ears in sippy cups, or spending your whole life chauffeuring teenagers around town, these ideas can help you kick off your new year with fresh focus and with God as the center.

Look back on the old year together.

We’re quick to look to the future, but what about the great things that have already happened? Spend an evening remembering the blessings and answered prayers from last year. Write them down and spend time praising God for what he has already given. If you made a prayer list last January, bring it out and look at it again. Can you cross some prayers off your list? God loves it when we remember his gifts and come back to praise him.

Start a new year prayer tradition. 

Every January, we take our kids out to the beach for a new year prayer. Once we convince the kids that making sand angels is NOT the same thing as making snow angels, and will involve hours of hair-washing to get the sand out, we spend a few minutes shivering in the sand, talking about our hopes for the year. Each of us describes one thing we plan to ask God for in the coming year. And then we all pray together and take home a sea shell to commemorate the prayer. At home, we write our prayers on the shells. Simple, fun, and frigid!

godly family traditions

Come up with an “impossible prayer” list. 

“Impossible prayers” are things that seem impossible from a human perspective, but that our amazing God can do if we are bold enough to ask. Sit down as a family and come up with a list of things you all hope God will do this year—the crazier the better! Write them down where you’ll all see them, and commit to pray your impossible prayers all year as a family. Then sit back and watch what God does for you. (Want to read our family’s so-amazing-it-sounds-like-we-made-it-up “impossible prayer” miracle story? Click here.)


Want more posts like this? Sign up for my monthly parenting newsletter, with more tips to help you build your family God’s way! 


Pick a theme scripture for the year. 

Choose a scripture that represents what you want your year to look and feel like spiritually, and revisit that scripture often as a family. Memorize it. Write it on the fridge and on the calendar. Remind each other of it frequently. Bring it up in family prayers and devotional times all year long. You can either pick one scripture for your whole family, or each person can choose their own.

Pick a theme word for the year. 

What one word describes the focus you want to have in the coming year? Faith? Discipline? Kindness? Patience? Renewal? Selflessness? Vision? Generosity? Pick one, and make it your theme word! Find a scripture or scriptures that relate to the concept, and study them on your own and as a family. You can choose one word for the whole family, or let each family member pick their own word.

 

I wish you and your family a fantastic beginning to the new year, a year full of faith and joy and spiritual growth. A year rich in love and lasting memories. A year embracing the messiness of life, remaining faithful through the unexpected twists, and having the wisdom to find joy in imperfection and small blessings.

Want to share this post? Thank you! Share buttons are at the bottom of the post.


If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

Two-Minute Devotions

13 “Back-to-School” Scriptures for Kids 

When Being a Grown-Up Means You’re Still Growing Up

13 Confidence-Building Scriptures for Kids and Teens

Bringing God into School Days


Share this post: