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