by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.
Summary: A health crisis in a family member drove me deep into the Scriptures, where I found comforting words from God in my time of distress. May these inspirational words provide that same heavenly comfort to you in your difficult times.
Explanatory note: the following verses are not presented in “sermon” format. Rather they appear in the order I found them in the Bible, along with the personal encouragement that they provided to me. My intent was not to address the details of the contexts, but rather to embrace the words of encouragement to be found in them.
Genesis 35:3 Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.
•• As with Jacob, God is ready and willing to answer your cry to Him in the day of your distress. And He will give you the assurance that, no matter how pressing the trouble you face, He will be “with you wherever” you go.
2 Samuel 22:7 In my distress I called to the LORD; I called out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears.
•• In the midst of your difficulties, “call out” to God. Let your emotions come through to Him. God hears, and He understands.
2 Chronicles 20:9 If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.
•• Even if you face what seems to be calamity, “cry out” to God in the midst of your troubles. And be assured that He will both hear you and save you.
• Imagine Peter’s fear as he began to walk on the water to Jesus (Matthew 14:30-31). The violent wind and the surging waves put terror in his heart. Beginning to sink, Peter cried out, “Lord, save me!” And Jesus did so, reaching His hand out to Peter and bringing him safely back to the boat.
• In your time of distress, like Peter, cry out, “Lord, save me! Lord, help me!” And He will hear and intercede on your behalf.
Psalm 4:1 Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.
•• God’s mercy is limitless. Sometimes the simplest and best prayer in times of trouble is the prayer that says, “Lord, have mercy!” In fact, in the Gospels, it was often the Lord’s mercy that prompted many of the great physical healings that He performed. If your mind is distracted or confused and you can’t seem to get your thoughts together, simply call out to God for His mercy.
Psalm 55:17, KJV Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.
•• The Psalmist King David revealed an important insight that he had learned. That is, the importance of diligent, ongoing prayer to God in times of distress — he prayed in the “...evening, and morning, and at noon...”, crying out to God in his distress. This tells me to be persistent in calling out to God in prayer. Look to God in prayer for your need when you wake up, often during the day, and before falling asleep at night.
Isaiah 25:4a You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.
•• These are comforting words when the winds of adversity are howling around you. Whatever your personal “storm” is, no matter how high the “heat” is on you, you can count on God to be a refuge for you in your time of need.
• Draw close to God. Read His words of comfort in the Bible daily as a source of strength. Look beyond your storm to the Lord who calmed the violent tempest with a powerful word (Mark 4:39). He can and will calm your personal storm.
Isaiah 63:9 In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
•• To me, these are very comforting words. In our distress God Himself is distressed! He feels our pain. He shares our discomfort. He sympathizes with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15). In response, the Lord lifts us up and “carries” us in our times of distress. Don’t bear your burden alone; let the Lord lift you up and carry you.
Jonah 2:1-2 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God.  He said: “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry.”
•• You may feel like you’ve been swallowed up, like Jonah, who found himself inside a great fish in the depths of the sea. You see no light and no hope of deliverance. But remember the rest of Jonah’s story. From what seemed like the “depths of the grave” inside the great fish, Jonah called to God for help, and God listened and delivered Jonah from his great peril.
• No matter how dark, how impossible, your situation seems, call out to God for help. God is merciful, He is faithful, and He is willing to provide the help His people need in their times of distress.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
•• I appreciate the apostle’s candor. In his trials he didn’t put on some false bravado, some faked courage. No! He said there were times when he was “hard pressed ... perplexed ... persecuted ... struck down.” Life is not easy. In fact, Jesus warned that “in this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). However, Jesus immediately added these encouraging, comforting words: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Encouraging words indeed from our caring Savior!
• In the midst of his trials and tribulations, the apostle Paul spoke boldly and confidently, because of his certainty that the Lord would help him: “I am ... not crushed ... not in despair ... not abandoned ... not destroyed.”
• As I faced a recent health crisis in my family, I was especially touched by Paul’s statement that he was “perplexed, but not in despair”. Sometimes things come into our lives that leave us puzzled, perplexed, unable to fully understand. Those are honest and normal responses. Even the great apostle experienced those feelings. But don’t let your perplexity bring you to a place of losing hope. God is faithful! He will be with you in your time of distress and His intent is to bring you through it to victory. Draw close to Him. Cling to Him. Read His word, find the words of comfort and encouragement that you seek, and believe His trustworthy promises to you. You will not be disappointed.
©2009, James H. Feeney. Copyright statement.