Times of struggle often lead us to question why. Why must we go through this? Why doesn't God put an end to this suffering? Why me? While going through times of adversity is certainly tough, as believers, we are prompted to look to the Bible for answers to these questions—as well as thoughtful prayer, too. There may not be exact answers to our specific problems, but we can find stories of how figures throughout Biblical history dealt with suffering in a godly way, and more importantly, what Jesus Himself has to say on the topic of suffering.
Here are 6 of our favorite passages to provide strength and comfort during difficult times.
1. Psalm 143:7-8
"Answer me quickly, Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life."
The Psalms are always a good place to visit if you need encouragement. As one of the few poetic literature books of the Bible, we're given a special glimpse into how King David processed his prayers and spoke to God. In this passage, there's a sense of urgency right from the beginning. David is fully depending on God, and he is calling on Him to reveal Himself. That's ultimately what we want, too, for God to reveal Himself through our sufferings and provide us with hope.
2. Luke 12:22-31
"Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?...But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well."
This powerful passage is from Jesus Himself, encouraging the crowds to identify the source of their anxiety, and to cast it out for good. As humans, we will often doubt and feel anxious, but if we believe that Jesus is who He says He is, then we know the end to the story. Whatever struggle, heartache, or difficulty, Jesus is aware, is with us, and will have victory over sin and death in the end.
It's tricky to be a follower right now in this in-between time—between Jesus' death and resurrection, but we're also waiting for Him to return to earth and begin His new kingdom. The kingdom is here, but not yet at the same time. This duality, though a tad confusing, is key to our mindset shift. We are indeed grateful for Jesus' presence and the Holy Spirit, but there is still sin and darkness and chaos at play in the world. It's not how God envisioned things, but someday, He will restore order, and we will be at His side for eternity. Understand the world is still a broken place, but take heart that Jesus has overcome death and will be back to make all things new.
3. Romans 5:3-5
"Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."
Paul's letter to the Romans written back in 57 A.D. still has great resonance with us today. When we know Jesus, we understand that our sufferings aren't meaningless. While we may not understand the intent or the full picture, we know that God is making all things work together for His good—and for ours, too. We can trust that through our life experiences, along with the aid of the Holy Spirit, we're developing perseverance and hope, just like Jesus.
4. 1 Peter 1:6-7
"In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."
How are we to rejoice in our sufferings? The idea of this can be confusing and hard to accept. When encountering pain, shame, or grief, the last thing we feel like doing is rejoicing. And yet, here again we're called to rejoice in our sufferings. This is because we know the ultimate end of the story. We know our lives are short, especially in the grand scheme of things, and that Jesus has risen from the dead. One day He is coming back to restore order and draw us nearer to Himself. The enemy will be silenced forever and sin will be no more. When we understand this full picture, our pain loses its hold on us.
Throughout our lives, God places us in situations to test and refine us. Not that He has ill intent, but he's prompting us to grow through these experiences by relying on Him fully. Our faith is of the utmost importance to Him, and if we are willing, He will transform us to become more and more like Christ. At the end of our life, after everything we've done, we should be the most proud of our faith—our relationship to Jesus.
5. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort."
Above all, God is the god of all comfort. He knows you better than you know yourself, and He is especially with you during hardship. In this letter to the Corinthians, Paul is reminding us of the shared sufferings of Christ. He Himself suffered, and knows it well. We're not alone in our experiences. Consider Jesus on the cross and all of His sacrifices for you. Also, as a member of the body of Christ—the church—we know we don't have to go at this alone. As Christians, we share each others burdens and hopes. That's why being involved in a church is so important. We're not meant to live alone, separated from other believers.
6. John 16:33
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Again, a message straight from Jesus Himself. When we know Jesus, we have peace, because He is peace. We know He has overcome the world. So we invite you to draw closer to Him through trial, and seek out His presence more than ever. Notice the small, everyday blessings and give thanks for those. You're never alone. Jesus is with you every step of the way.
Jesus Is Always With You
Above all, know that you are deeply loved and Jesus is with you right this very moment. He never leaves your side. Lean on Him in this season and find other believers to share your experiences with. After all, we're meant to live life in community. As a reminder of Jesus' love and promises, shop our selection of our Christian apparel, with collections featuring some of your favorite verses and imagery.