One way in which God’s grace infuses us when we’re afflicted or hurting is through truths in His Word. When our emotional batteries are low, the Holy Spirit reminds us of, or leads us to, a particular text that revs up our energy and endurance. The power of God’s Word is not a sterile doctrine, but an actual experience among His desperate followers.
Some time ago I asked my readers to send me Bible verses that became special to them in the crucible of painful experience. Here are some of the responses. I am using fictional first names, but the verses and their explanations are ones I received. In some instances I have edited or elaborated on their remarks without changing the essence of what they wrote.
What verse from God’s Word assuages Mary’s anxiety?
“Do no fear, for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
“This verse is dear to my heart because here, my Heavenly Father’s love is so tenderly expressed to me. My life ebbs and flows with anxiety, some depression, and occasional dark thoughts. This verse reminds me that I am not alone during such times. I’m not to fear because He is with me! He emphasized that ‘I am your God’–the great I AM–and the result is that He has much strength to offer. When I’m too weak to hold myself up, He’s the One who holds me.”
When she’s besieged by sorrow, what verse sustains Diane?
“The Lord is near to the broken hearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
“When it feels like no one else could possibly understand, the Lord does. When I feel alone in the world, He is nearby. When sorrow threatens to overwhelm me, His hand upholds me. Though He doesn’t prevent sorrow, He will not let me be crushed. Any brokenness I experience is not forever. Another Bible verse says, ‘Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning’ (Psalm 30:5). I’ll shout that joy on the morning when Jesus returns and makes all things new. In that truth, I find hope and peace, coexisting with the pain, in the midst of the storm.”
When troubles envelop Kelly, what Bible verse reassures her?
Her verse is what Jesus said to Martha right before He raised her brother Lazarus from the dead.
“Did I not say to you, if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” John 11:40
“Simply put, if Jesus can raise the dead, He is more than capable of taking care of my troubles–or taking care of me in the midst of the troubles. I can rest like a small child in His arms, secure in His love and protection.”
When he suffers, what verses instill within Jeremy a soul-strengthening perspective?
“And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:10-11
“I like the phrase ‘in a little while’ because it reminds me that suffering has an expiration date. God Himself will see me through to the end of it. He reigns over all sin and suffering and will one day destroy it all. Alleluia!“
What verses keep Jeff motivated as he serves people behind the scenes, helping them deal with money and debt issues?
“Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58
“This promise prompts me to stick to my task, whether it’s volunteer church work or helping individuals sort through financial issues. It’s especially meaningful to recall when I’m feeling down or wonder if I’m bearing any fruit for eternity.”
“God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.” Hebrews 6:10
“I often help people on money matters. It means a lot when they express appreciation. But it means even more to know that God sees and doesn’t forget what I do for them.”
When discouraged over the state of his marriage, what verse kept prompting Tom’s prayers?
“Behold, I am doing something new, now it will spring forth. Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people.” Isaiah 43:19
“Early in my marriage, I struggled with depression over the tension in my relationship with my wife. I desperately wanted to give up, but this promise from the Lord held my heart steady and ultimately watered our parched hearts. Even when times were difficult, my wife and I resolved to pray together and actually prayed for God to fulfill this particular promise in our marriage. And He answered in ways I never imagined!
“Now after 43 years of marriage, I can honestly say that my bride is my best friend and confidant. I wouldn’t trade my marriage for anything. For us, the Lord ‘made a roadway in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.'”
When her husband’s illness resulted in two months of extreme sleep deprivation, what was Melina’s go-to verse?
“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11
“For two months, my husband’s bouts of rapid heartbeat impeded his sleep, as well as mine. As a school teacher, I needed seven hours of sleep to function at my peak. My weariness during the day, compounded by anxiety over his health, made for a trying time. In one three week period, we made three middle-of-the-night trips to the hospital emergency room.
“When we’d turn in for the night, I’d lay my head on the pillow and start wondering, ‘What if Ron’s heart acts up and he can’t sleep tonight?’ Even before his rapid heartbeat episodes would occur, my negative imaginings kept me awake. Psalm 84:11 was a verse my mind kept going back to, and served as a mighty weapon to sustain against the worry.
“I focused on the phrase, ‘no good thing does He withhold.’ Here is how I reasoned: ‘God declares that He withholds nothing good from us. So if Ron doesn’t sleep tonight, God calls that a good thing. I don’t understand how it is good, but from God’s point of view, it is.’ My understanding of good included what is good for the soul, for our faith, and for the many friends who were praying for us. It didn’t just include his physical body.
“Eventually God did take away the episodes of rapid heartbeat. But for Ron and me, the phrase ‘health issues’ took on new depths. Such an innocuous pair of words, but they cover a depth of meaning.
“Before Ron’s recovery, I recall one particular incidence when we were awake at 2 a.m. Christmas morning. There was apparently no insight or direction from God. I prayed out loud, but at that moment it was like hitting a brick wall. Yet I kept praying and attacking that wall until I went past it, and I found God on the other side of it. Wisely, His Spirit nudged us to go to the emergency room again for help.
“We’ve learned that God is on the other side of brick walls, and persistent prayer helps us to find Him there.”
What text enables Tristen to persevere through physical pain, difficult circumstances, and bouts of spiritual warfare?
Tristen cited words Jesus used to reassure His disciples and to prepare them for His physical departure.
“Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1-3
“Some people think that Christians are too heavenly-minded to be of any earthly good. But just the opposite is true. Focusing on heaven and eternity with the Lord gives the endurance needed in this life to serve others well, and to maintain an obedient life.
“When I’m afflicted with chronic pain, I know it is temporary. Someday I’ll have a body that won’t hurt. When I grow tired of the battle against Satan and want to yield to temptation, I remember to hold on a while longer, that this life and the warfare that accompanies it won’t last forever. Knowing that Jesus has prepared a place for me instills resilience for the hard times. I can hang on a while longer because this life, with its bodily pain and other afflictions, has a finish line. In heaven, ‘there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain’ (Rev. 21:4).
“There’s a statement Jesus makes within John 14:1-3 that reassures me most. He said, ‘If it were not so, I would have told you.’ It was His way of making the promise emphatic.”
As I peruse these reader contributions, I realize there is one catch to experiencing the soul-nourishing strength of God’s Word as they did. We must read God’s Word regularly, study it, and memorize parts of it. When a trying time comes, there must be something in the mind for the Holy Spirit to retrieve so it can massage our hearts. Perhaps that is why Stuart Briscoe, referring to Paul’s remark in Romans 12:2 about being “transformed by the renewing of your mind,” said, “Spiritual experience begins in the mind.”
This week, may God’s Word minister to you when you need it most.