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 Mugs Break: Lessons in Fear


Photos courtesy of Unsplash.  

I sink into my friend’s cushy new loveseat with a grateful sigh. The eight-hour drive from my house to hers has left me exhausted—I don’t have great stamina as a long-distance driver, but today Cassidy and I have braved the long country roads between North Carolina and Georgia, just the two of us, for the rare treat of a mother-daughter trip to visit friends.

With a smile, my friend’s husband presses a steaming mug of tea into my hands. “You are the best,” I say. I’ve been looking forward to this moment for at least 200 miles. For a few seconds I cradle the mug, savoring the way warmth travels through the pottery, into my fingertips, down into my soul. My friend asks what I want to do tomorrow. I lift the mug to my lips, gathering thoughts.

In the silence between sentences there’s a strange little crunching sound, and suddenly I’m burning. Scalding tea is everywhere—drenching my hands, spattering my arms, filling my lap, soaking the chair. I yelp and leap to my feet. In one bleeding hand I hold the mug’s handle; in the other, I’m struggling to balance the now half-empty mug. My friend and her husband come running, our daughters come running. The next moments are a blur of shrieks and towels, Band-aids and blood. When pain stops and chaos settles, we register what happened: The handle separated from the mug, sending tea flying and pottery shards digging into my hand.

Eventually, when we realize that there’s more blood than actual injury, that my thick winter clothes have protected me from true burns, and that my friend’s forethought in stain-protecting her new loveseat has kept the furniture from total ruin, we dissolve into relieved and shaky laughter.

I change clothes, we clean up, and after a while we are back where we started, settling in to chat on the couches. My friend’s husband brews a fresh cup of tea and holds it out to me. For a heartbeat I hesitate—a hitch of anxiety stops my breath—and I slowly reach out to take the mug. As my friend launches into a story, I find myself holding the mug tighter than I should be, pressing it hard with both hands. I cast nervous glances at the handle, studying its width, weighing its strength. In spite of the rational voice in my head insisting, “This is so stupid, hold the dang handle,” I can’t bring myself to let go and hold the mug by the handle.

The next morning, my friend offers me coffee. Coffee, beloved coffee, sweet nectar of life. She pours me a cup and holds out the mug. A fluttering starts in my gut, and I find myself swallowing hard as I reach for the mug with my still-bandaged hand. She looks at me funny. “Are you okay?”

I nod my head yes. Shake my head no. Set the mug down. Confess with a laugh, “I’m afraid to pick up the mug!”

My friend laughs, then looks slightly wounded. “You don’t trust my mugs anymore.”

“Not just your mugs,” I say with a guilty grin. “Mugs in general.”

She assures me that the mug in question has been a reliable vessel for coffee and tea for many years and is worthy of my full trust. She holds it herself, waves it around to prove it. We laugh, I pretend to feel better, and I pick up the cup, hoping she doesn’t notice that I’m using two hands, unwilling to risk the handle.

Several days later I return home—home to my own coffee pot, my own familiar mugs, dear companions who have faithfully served me coffee and tea during countless prayer times, phone calls, and writing sessions. But even so, when I pour my first cup of coffee into my favorite mug, the “Our nest is blessed” bird mug my mom gave me, I find myself staring it down with eyes narrowed, suspicion rising: Are you going to fail me too? Are you hiding some unseen crack, some weakness in construction? We’ve lived a lot of life together, shared a lot of coffee and good memories, but now…I’ve been burned. I’ve changed—have you changed too?

mug-in-garage


Want more from Lizzy Life? Click here to sign up for Elizabeth’s quarterly newsletter, and you’ll receive a free download: 7 Two-Minute Devotions to do around the breakfast table with your family! And you can order Elizabeth’s next book, When God Says “Wait,” by clicking here! 


Over the next few weeks, I keep drinking coffee, but always with two hands, just in case. It’s weeks before I can lift a mug without pause. Months before I can enjoy coffee or tea without a twinge of bad memory pulsing somewhere in the back of my mind. The two-hand mug-hold becomes an unconscious habit. Even though logic tells me I’m being ridiculous—In all your thirty-eight years you have had three million positive experiences drinking from mugs, and only one bad experience with mug malfunction—the odds are totally in your favor!—every time I lift a mug, some primal instinct rises up to defend me. Keep me from getting burned. Keep me using two hands.

After a while it occurs to me that I’ve done this before, only not with mugs. With people. With God. Most of my life has been filled with love, kindness, grace—ten million wondrous memories—but along the way I’ve also experienced a few shocking hurts and disappointments. Wounds I didn’t see coming, from places I’d never doubted.

Sometimes things break on us—not just mugs, but things that really matter: Health. Friendships. Finances. Churches. Parents. Marriages. Families.

Things we thought were a given, things we trusted without question—my mug will always hold my coffee, my friend will always be there, my church will always be a safe place, my parents will always love each other, my guy will always be faithful, my body will always be healthysuddenly let us down. They break without warning. One minute we’re sitting on a couch with a friend—happy place, familiar comfort—the next we’re gasping in pain, world spinning, and it’s ages before we can even register what happened.

When we’re surprised like that, when things break on us, sometimes we break too. Trust, overcome by fear. Love, overshadowed by suspicion. Openness, overwhelmed by hurt.

We don’t want to be broken. We’re not doing it on purpose. Logically, we tell ourselves that our newfound fear makes no sense—in neutral moments we even laugh at ourselves—but every time we face situations that somehow remind us of that one terrible time, the fear comes roaring to the surface. Taking over. Commandeering our thoughts, our feelings, our reactions. Making us curl into a self-protective cocoon where we can hide safe inside, safe all alone.

mug-winter-girl

Fear does this to us even when we are no longer in any real danger—it takes over based on mere memory. We may be sitting safe and snug—different chair, different day, different mug—but if our mind flashes back to the one bad experience with the one evil mug, suddenly we’re right back there, in danger, and it’s time to flee. Or time to fight.

We who used to live free, love hard… we become guarded. Protective. Isolated. Maybe angry.

We’re not crazy, not making it up. Some broken things, like my friend’s mug, are beyond hope and have to be thrown away—those losses hurt beyond words.

Other broken things can be repaired, but repair is scary. Imperfect. Risky. Even if we manage to glue the handle back onto a mug, we still see a seam. A scar. A weak place that, if we prod it and test it too much, we fear could break again.

Friend, if things or people have broken on you, if you yourself are broken, these words are for you. You feel pain, suspicion, fear—so do I. I’ve felt it in my own ways, through the lens of my own experiences, my own people. I understand the deep, visceral spring of pain that gives fear such ferocity, such control, such long life.

I understand it, but from one burned person to another, one broken soul to another, I’m asking you to let it go. I’m telling you that with God, through Christ, it’s possible.

I’m asking you to take away the power of fear—fear that warps and cripples and binds—by seeing through it. By seeing it for what it is: a fear that wants to distort the way you view people, do church, trust God, experience life, face the future. It is a hurt that wants to haunt you. An injury that seeks to change you. A wound that wants to keep wounding you—not with realities from the present, but with memories from the past. A fear that wants you to live trapped in an invisible box of your own creation. The wounds may have come from others, but the box you built and locked yourself—and friend, you still hold the key.

I’m asking you to use that key. Climb out of that box. Stand free in God’s sun.

I pray you find a way to heal. To forgive, as many times as it takes. To give your hurt and fear to God, and to trust that his hands are big enough to hold them. That Christ’s blood is thick enough, pure enough, to cover all and wash it clean.

I pray you find courage to breathe through the panic, reject the memories, reach out your hand, and take hold of that mug once more. To lift it up and drink it down.

I’m proud to say I have learned to trust mugs again. (Now there’s a sentence that’s never been said before!) It helped when I realized: Sometimes memory distorts reality. Inflates horror. Exaggerates pain. Over time, my memory of the heat and pain became more powerful, more dramatic, than the actual incident itself. Yes, for a few seconds I was uncomfortable, but I wasn’t truly burned! The cuts were mere scratches! Some experiences truly are as awful as we remember, but other memories grow over time—taking on heavier weight, accruing pain like interest.

Either way, isn’t it time to reach out and hold that handle again? The first few times will be the hardest. You might find your heart racing, palms sweating, head spinning. But with time it will get easier. And easier. Still easier. The more often you push through, the more quickly you will overcome. You may relapse every so often, but with focused effort you can keep moving forward. You can enjoy the things, the people, you used to enjoy. You can trust again. Love again. Live again. Yes, you may bear scars, but they need not define you.

My two-hand mug-holding habit took a while to unlearn, but over time, I have. (Mostly.) I now hold mugs with one hand, by the handle, the way normal, non-mug-ophobic people do, and most days I don’t think twice about it. (Although honestly, now that I’m writing this, I’m starting to feel a bit twitchy. Don’t judge me if you catch me relapsing with the two-hand hold for a few weeks.)

et-mugshot-1

et-mugshot-2

et-mugshot-3

Now I’m grateful for the lessons the broken mug taught me:

Most of the time, life is wonderful. But sometimes life hurts. People disappoint. Things change. Mugs break.

But you and I… we can move forward. With God’s help, we can heal. Forgive. In time, maybe we can even forget.

And you know what? Even if we can’t forget, even if we still bear the scar, it’s worth it, reaching out and taking hold of that mug once more. Scar or no scar, bad memories and all, the tea, the coffee, this life… they taste as good as ever.


If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

When They Can’t Find a Heartbeat

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

When You Walk Through a Valley

When Life Poops on Your Party

On Pinkeye, Lice, and Love

One Day, Somehow (A Promise for a Grieving Friend)


Share this post with a friend who needs it (and is scared of mugs like me, because I don’t want to be the only one):