For thousands of years, people have drawn inspiration from the Bible. It has restored hope for many during their most trying circumstances, and continues to be a source of encouragement and support today.
When life gets rough, God’s Word lifts us up and gives us stamina and courage to carry on. Here are ten powerful passages that can give you strength when you need it most.
1. God is my strength and defense: Exodus 15:1–4
Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:
“I will sing to the Lord,
for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver
he has hurled into the sea.
“The Lord is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
The Lord is a warrior;
the Lord is his name.
Pharaoh’s chariots and his army
he has hurled into the sea.
The best of Pharaoh’s officers
are drowned in the Red Sea.
For over 400 years, the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt. In a profound display of his power, God secured their release with 10 dramatic plagues. When Pharaoh changed his mind and sent his army off in pursuit of the fleeing Hebrews, God gave them passage through the Red Sea, and then closed the sea around the Egyptian army, completely destroying it.
This song of praise celebrates that rescue, and ultimately the fact that God is our deliverer. As we’ll see in many of these passages, our strength is found in God’s might. As we look for our security in him, we are lifted up and protected by our champion defender.
2. The joy of the Lord is your strength: Nehemiah 8:10
Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Once again, the Israelites are in exile. In the eighth chapter of Nehemiah, they’re gathered together, and Ezra reads to them from God’s Law. These people, hungry to hear God’s Word and rediscover their heritage, listen to Ezra read from dawn until noon. They rightfully respond in worship.
Here Nehemiah tells them that this is a celebration, and in one of Scripture’s more well-known lines, lets them know that the joy of the Lord is their strength. It’s their confidence in God’s goodness that sets them apart and makes them a robust people.
3. God is our refuge and strength: Psalm 46:1–3
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
Often the Hebrews found their stamina and hope in remembering God’s powerful acts. Here the psalmist wants to remind us that he is our “ever-present help in trouble.” We look to the past to remember what’s been done in order to remind ourselves that God is at work today, and we can trust him—even if the mountains fall into the sea.
4. Strengthen me according to your word: Psalm 119:28
My soul is weary with sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word.
Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the entire Bible. It reminds us to trust in God’s Word, which will make us wise and righteous, and prepares us for good works. In the midst of this Psalm, the psalmist speaks of his weariness and sorrow. And he looks to God’s Law for strength.
5. The Lord is our strong tower: Proverbs 18:10
The name of the Lord is a fortified tower
the righteous run to it and are safe.
We tend to look in the same places for security that our forefathers did. We trust in our riches, close relationships, and strong rulers to protect us. But when we put our hope in those things, we find ourselves on shifting sand. On the other hand, God’s name—the very essence of who he is—is a fortified tower where we can find the security we long for.
6. We will run and not grow weary: Isaiah 40:29–31
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
At some point, everyone gets physically and emotionally exhausted. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re at in life. This passage from Isaiah 40 is an incredible encouragement. God is a source for unlimited renewal and all we have to do is wait on him.
7. Strengthened and upheld by God’s hand: Isaiah 41:9–10
I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Here God speaks to Israel, the nation he has created, cared for, and loved. They were often under duress from foreign cultures who would love to see them wiped out. And despite their regular unfaithfulness to God, still he called, strengthened, and upheld them. And he does that for us in Christ, too.
8. My strength is perfect in weakness: 2 Corinthians 12:9–10
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul had a weakness or physical difficulty that he called “a thorn in my flesh.” Whatever this disability was, he prayed regularly for God to take it away, but still it remained. Instead of removing this thorn, God told him, “My power is made perfect in weakness.”
Paul realized that in all of the difficulties of his life, God power was being demonstrated. These weaknesses were actually Paul’s strengths.
9. Be strong in the Lord: Ephesians 6:10–11
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
The Christian life is difficult. Our enemy, the devil, is looking for ways to destroy our fervor, entice us to be unfaithful to God, and ultimately destroy us. Paul finishes his letter to the church at Ephesus with this encouragement to be strong. But that strength comes from wearing God’s truth, righteousness, and salvation like armor.
10. Through him who gives me strength: Philippians 4:11–13
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13 is a rather well-known verse, but you really need the context to really see it for the profound inspiration that it is. Paul had endured so much in his ministry: persecution, shipwrecks, betrayal. Throughout this time, he learned the secret of contentment. He wasn’t only content when he had what he needed. He learned to be fulfilled even when he was hungry and in desperate need.
Through his obedience, Paul had learned that it was Christ who gave him strength. And that strength brought him contentment in all sorts of trials.
We can trust in God’s strength
Each one of us will face a myriad of trials and difficulties, but through them all God will be faithful. If we wait on him and trust in him, he will be there to protect, guide, lead, and renew us. But it requires that we put our hope in Christ’s sacrifice and the power of the resurrection. As Paul reminds the Galatians:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Use the NIV verse finder to find what the Bible says about other subjects of interest.