YouVersion's top 10 Bible verses: what they say about how we really feel

In recent months we've all been through a time of turmoil. It's not over yet, but there are glimmers of light after the darkness. There's a vaccine at last for Covid-19, with perhaps more on the way. And whichever side readers may have supported during the US presidential election – so significant not just for America but for the world – there is at least a result. 

One way of telling how people might have been feeling during this time is to open a newspaper or click on a news website: there's a lot of fear, frustration and anger. There's another way, though – and that's to look at what people have been reading in their Bibles. 

The most downloaded Bible reading app in the world is YouVersion, offering hundreds of translations. YouVersion's ten most-highlighted verses during October reveal very interesting themes. 

Top comes John 14.27, ‘Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid’ (GNB). Others include Philippians 4.13, 'I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me’ and Psalm 27.1, ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation; I will fear no one. The Lord protects me from all danger; I will never be afraid.’

These are all about peace and protection. There are also notes of judgement, for instance 2 Chronicles 7.14: ‘If they pray to me and repent and turn away from the evil they have been doing, then I will hear them in heaven, forgive their sins, and make their land prosperous again.’ 

Conflict, too, appears more than once, for instance in Ephesians 6.12: ‘For we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age.’

This isn't a rigorous scientific survey, but It's not difficult to link these verses to world events, and to see how the Bible is helping people cope or expressing what they feel. The coronavirus crisis has shaken the world's foundations. Perhaps never before has a US election been harder-fought or more polarised. In the UK, Brexit looms without, as yet, a deal that could safeguard the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people. People are afraid, and they look to God for strength and comfort: ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation.’ They also look for meaning: there's a sense of being judged, or being under attack, and needing someone to rescue us. 

So perhaps this is a challenge as we try to cut through the media noise and try to discern what we should say as the people of God. In an angry world, how can we share Bible messages of peace? In a fearful world, how can we share Bible messages of security? And in a world that feels under a strange judgement, how can we share the Bible message of forgiveness and salvation? 

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