When facing adversity, we may desire that the adversity be removed, but perhaps we should instead ask God for His help in dealing satisfactorily with the adversity, if He chooses not to remove it.  Regardless, when we are dealing with adversities, we often feel a need for encouragement.

Everyone can benefit from the right kind of encouragement.  However, at least sometimes – and, perhaps, many times – even family and friends don’t provide the encouragement we need, either because they are not aware of our need or they just don’t know how to encourage us in certain situations.  Fortunately, anyone who believes that the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God can turn to it to find encouragement, provided that they know where to look.

We have chosen to categorize the biblical passages of encouragement as follows:

  • Dealing with Temptations or Sin
  • Feeling Anxious, Fearful, Troubled, or Worried
  • Feeling Defeated, Depressed, Discouraged, or Weary
  • Grieving
  • Lacking Faith
  • Needing Guidance
  • Needing Peace
  • Praying

[Note:  When we quote Scripture in this article, we use the wording in the New King James Version of the Bible.]

Dealing with Temptations or Sin

Psalm 51:16-17: You [God] do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart – these, O God, You will not despise.

Proverbs 28:13: He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.

1 Corinthians 10:13:   No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

James 4:7: [S]ubmit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Feeling Anxious, Fearful, Troubled, or Worried

Psalm 18:2: The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Psalm 23:1-4: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me: Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 27:1: The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 31:1-3:  In You, O Lord, I put my trust; let me never be ashamed; deliver me in Your righteousness.  Bow down Your ear to me, deliver me speedily; be my rock of refuge, a fortress of defense to save me.  For You are my rock and my fortress; therefore, for Your name’s sake, lead me and guide me.

Psalm 34:4:  I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

Psalm 38:15:  [I]n You, O Lord, I hope; You will hear, O Lord my God.

Psalm 46:1-2a:  God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore, we will not fear.

Psalm 55:22a:  Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you. . . .

Psalm 62:7:  In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength; and my refuge is in God.

Psalm 91:2:  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.”

Psalm 118:5-6:  I called on the Lord in distress; the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place.  The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?

Psalm 121:2, 7:  My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. . . . The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.

Proverbs 3:5-6:  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

Isaiah 40:31:  [T]hose who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 41:10:  [God said,] “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you.  Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Matthew 6:31, 33:  [Jesus Christ said,] “[D]o not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’. . . . But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Luke 18:27:  He [Jesus Christ] said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”

John 14:27:  [Jesus Christ said] “Peace I leave with you.  My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Romans 8:28, 38-39:  [W]e know that all things work together for good to those who love God; to those who are the called according to His purpose. . . . I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4:  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and god of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Philippians 4:6-7:  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. . . .

Philippians 4:13:  I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:19:  [M]y God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 1:7:  God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

2 Timothy 4:18a:  [T]he Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom.

Hebrews 13:5-6:  Let your conduct be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have.  For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?”

1 Peter 5:6-7:  [H]umble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Feeling Defeated, Depressed, Discouraged, or Weary

Psalm 31:14-15, 23-24:  [A]s for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.”  My times are in Your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me. . . . Oh, love the Lord, all you His saints!  For the Lord preserves the faithful, and fully repays the proud person.  Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord.

Psalm 42:11:   Why are you cast down, O my soul?  And why are you disquieted within me?  Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.

Psalm 55:22a:  Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you.

Matthew 5:11-12:  [Jesus Christ said] “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Romans 8:31b, 35, 38-39:  If God is for us, who can be against us? . . . Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2 Corinthians 4:15-17:  [A]ll things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.  Therefore we do not lose heart.  Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10He [God]said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Galatians 6:9:  Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Grieving

Matthew 5:4:  [Jesus Christ said,]Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Philippians 1:21:  For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18:  I don’t not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep [i.e., died], lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.  For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.  And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

Lacking Faith

Matthew 17:20b:  [Jesus Christ said,] “[I]f you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Luke 17:6:  [Jesus Christ said,] “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

Hebrews 11:6:  [W]ithout faith it is impossible to please Him [God], for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Needing Guidance

Proverbs 3:5-6:  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

Needing Peace

Psalm 4:8:  I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

John 16:33:  [Jesus Christ said,]“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Romans 5:1-2:  [H]aving been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Praying

John 14:1, 13:  [Jesus Christ said,]“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. . . .  And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

1 John 5:14-15:  Now this is the confidence that we have in Him [God], that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

Conclusion 

Even genuine Christians may have difficulty maintaining their trust in God when they are trying to deal with severe adversity, especially if they have been experiencing such adversity for a long period of time and there is no indication of how much longer the adversity will continue.  In such circumstances, a person’s trust in God is likely to be greatly tested, and only really tough faith will enable that person to persevere in accordance with God’s will for them.  Thankfully, the Bible can provide the encouragement needed to have such tough faith.

It has been said that when life hands us a lemon, it is up to us to turn the lemon into lemonade.  Perhaps, you have had a number of adversities in your life – a bunch of lemons.  It is up to you to turn those experiences, as bad as they may be, into learning experiences that will lead you to understand that God loves each of us and He can use the worst of circumstances for ultimate good.  He did so when He sent His only begotten Son to die a horrible death on the cross for the sins of everyone who sincerely trusts in Him for eternal salvation.  [For information as to how you or someone you know can be assured of eternal salvation, please see our article entitled “What Must a Person Do to Be Assured of Eternal Salvation?”]

Appendix

Other Sources of Encouragement

In addition to the Bible, many other sources offer encouragement.  However, since the primary focus of this article is on biblical encouragement, we will mention only a few quotes from other sources.

Larry Burkett, who was a well-regarded Christian speaker and lecturer on personal money management, stated, “God is in control.  If we are serving Him, then nothing can befall us except that He allows it.”  Burkett also said, “God does not promise to remove every difficulty.  But no matter what circumstances are encountered, God promises peace.”

And Rick Warren, in his book entitled The Purpose Driven Life, made the following statements:

Problems force us to look to God and depend on him instead of ourselves.

Every problem is a character-building opportunity. . . .

When you are facing trouble, ask God what he wants you to learn.  [Paraphrase]

We learn real peace by choosing to trust God in circumstances in which we are tempted to worry or be afraid.

Note that both Burkett and Warren indicate that God won’t necessarily eliminate the adversities we face, but He can provide us with a sense of peace, despite the circumstances, if we continue to place our trust in Him.

The source of the following list of acclaimed biblical heroes is unknown, but the fact that these people all had flaws or disadvantages should provide us with encouragement in coping with our own shortcomings:

The next time you feel like GOD can’t use YOU, just remember . . .

  • Noah was a drunk
  • Abraham was too old
  • Isaac was a daydreamer
  • Jacob was a liar
  • Joseph was abused
  • Moses had a stuttering problem
  • Gideon was afraid
  • Sampson was a womanizer
  • Rahab was a prostitute
  • Jeremiah and Timothy were young
  • David had an affair and was a murderer
  • Jonah ran from God
  • Peter denied Christ
  • Martha was a worrier
  • Zaccheus was small