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.
“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.
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.
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. And yep, all that is overwhelming… but God stays the same. And He is ready to listen, ready to help, ready to support us.
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.
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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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.
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. What a blessing that He shared His Gethsemane story to comfort us when we are overwhelmed.
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.
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.
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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