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Scripture Engagement

The Light of Hope: 7 Scripture Passages for Hard Times

Jan 4, 2024  |  Beth Matheson
The Light of Hope: 7 Scripture Passages for Hard Times

From the moment Adam and Eve chose their own way over God’s way in the Garden of Eden, difficulty and pain have been an unyielding part of humanity’s narrative. Sin impacted all of creation, introducing suffering and damaging everything from our personal relationships to nature itself. Whether our days are clouded with regular struggles or we feel lost under thick shadows of anguish, God is with us in the pain and His victorious plan is full of light and redemption.

Let’s look at seven Scripture passages that illuminate our suffering with brilliant hope.

1. Genesis 3:14-15 — God has always had victory over evil.

As soon as Satan appeared in the form of a snake and tempted Adam and Eve to sin, God handed down his sentence: “Then the LORD God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all animals, domestic and wild. You will crawl on your belly, groveling in the dust as long as you live. And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel’” (NLT).

This wasn’t just a metaphor about Satan’s conflict with humans and his eventual humiliation; it was a statement of God’s ultimate victory. Evil might be able to wound people for a time, but from the beginning God knew that Jesus would defeat death and Satan. Although the devil intended for sin and brokenness to destroy us, his designs are powerless, and suffering won’t have the final word.

2. Psalm 56:8 — Our sorrow matters to God.

The psalmist David faced nearly constant hardship, from betrayal by friends and family to threats against his life. While he was being held captive by an enemy nation, he penned this prayer: “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” (NLT).

When we’re hurting we may feel like God is distant or distracted, but He’s described here in a profoundly tender, engaged and intimate way. God cared about David’s heartache enough to notice and remember each tear, and He cares about our sorrows with the same gentle intensity. Nothing we go through escapes His compassionate attention.

3. Proverbs 18:10 — God is our shelter.

Difficult times can leave us feeling exposed and unprotected. However God offers us security that isn’t dependent on our situation. Proverbs 18:10 says: “The name of the LORD is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe” (NLT). God doesn’t promise that we’ll never experience pain; instead he gives much deeper comfort than our circumstances can provide.

Regardless of the chaos around or within us, the Lord’s name — which can also be translated as His “glory, reputation and identity” — offers shelter for the hearts and minds of His children. If God Himself is our refuge, nothing can threaten our ultimate safety.

4. Romans 5:3-5 — Our pain has a purpose.

Hard times are often even harder when they feel pointless. But according to Paul in the book of Romans, the struggles we face have a significant purpose: “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (NLT).

Our difficulties may feel heavy, but their weight is designed to drive us into deeper intimacy with God, strengthening us and anchoring us to the steady hope of His love.

5. Romans 8:26-27 — The Holy Spirit prays on our behalf.

Sometimes our suffering is so intense that we can’t even find the words to pray. But our inability to form cohesive thoughts doesn’t frustrate God or derail His plan. The Holy Spirit takes our unspoken confusion and heartache to the Father, translating our tears into effective prayers: “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will” (NLT).

6. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 — We have each other.

Not only do we have the companionship and comfort of the Holy Spirit in hard times, but we also have the chance to develop community with others: “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (NLT).

As we endure difficulties, we can reach out to brothers and sisters in Christ who have experienced similar struggles, borrowing their strength and hope as we move forward. And as we begin to find our own footing on the path through suffering, we can turn around and offer comfort to those journeying behind us.

7. Revelation 21:3-4 — Our suffering will end in joy.

No matter how deeply we ache now, suffering has an expiration date: “I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (NLT).

Our hard times won’t just get better — hardship will completely cease to exist someday! This passage isn’t wishful imagination. It’s an unshakeable promise of a real day when we’ll live with God and experience His complete restoration in heaven. There will be no more sin or brokenness, no more fear, loss or grief. There will just be freedom, joy and wholeness forever.

God’s loving hands have been around His children from the beginning of time, and His plan of victory and redemption through His Son has never wavered. Our path may lead through suffering for a while, but God is with His people every step of the way, tenderly caring for us, giving us refuge, growing our strength, hearing our hearts, drawing us into community and leading us toward complete wholeness. Until our permanent healing comes, we can continue to find the steady light of hope in His Word.

Soak in More Light

Having access to Scripture in our own language allows us to dig deep into God’s truth, especially when we walk through hard times. But did you know that there are people around the world still waiting for the hope of God’s Word in their language? Commit to pray for those who don't yet have Scripture as you read one of the most hope-filled passages in the Bible: Romans 8. Read the whole chapter, pray and soak in more radiant truths like these:

  • Living in relationship with Jesus removes all condemnation from our lives (v. 1).

  • The Holy Spirit sets us free from the control of sin and leads us to life and peace (vv. 5-6).

  • We don’t need to fear because God is our Father (v. 15).

  • What we suffer now can’t compare to the glory that’s coming (v. 18).

  • God transforms even the hardest things into tools for our ultimate good (v. 28).

  • Absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God (v. 38).

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