Every day, each of us is tempted to become discouraged over one thing or another. Discouragement is contrary to the will of God because He wants us to be joyful and thankful in all circumstances (Phil. 4:4, 1 Thess. 5:18). In fact, discouragement is the opposite of faith in God. When we’re discouraged, we’re not remembering God’s love, nor trusting in His promises of victory in this life and joy for all eternity.
It’s wonderful news that God doesn’t want us to be discouraged because who wants that anyway? God is on our side to help us live a fuller and happier life (Jn. 10:10). Since discouragement is not the will of God, we know that it can only result from falsehoods. Let’s start on the journey to joy by examining what I believe to be the top ten lies that Satan uses to discourage Christians.
1. “God has forgotten about me.”
If you feel this way, you may be waiting for God to answer some important prayers. Remember that Abraham waited many years for God to fulfill His promise to provide a son, but God came through. In nature also, we see that there are both rainy seasons and droughts. Rejoice in the knowledge that this is a time of spiritual growth for you, and know that God never forgets His children (Heb. 13:5).
2. “God doesn’t want me to enjoy life.”
When we suffer, we’re often tempted to see God as remote, and perhaps even as taking pleasure in our misfortune. Again, God wants each of us to live an abundant, joyful life. With that in mind, let’s step back and consider the reasons why we’re sometimes called to suffer (1 Pet. 2:21). The Bible tells us that suffering develops the virtues of compassion, purity, patience, character, and hope (Isa. 48:10, 2 Cor. 1:3-5, Rom. 5:35, 8:28). It also leads to greater intimacy with God and eternal rewards (Job 42:5, Rom. 8:18). By the way, no Christian has ever suffered due to the wrath of God (1 Thess. 5:9). Instead, what happens is that we share in Christ’s suffering (1 Pet. 4:13).
3. “God can’t possibly care about the details of my life.”
We’ve all felt this way because many of our trials seem unworthy of God’s attention. We may also be too proud to admit even to ourselves that we need help to cope with minor frustrations, though we are only human. These lies keep us from taking petty annoyances such as red lights and spam e-mail to the Lord in prayer. Later on, we may wonder why we let minor irritations build up and contribute to an unjustified outburst against a co-worker. God wants you to cast every care upon Him because He cares about everything that concerns you (Lk. 12:7, 1 Pet. 5:7).
4. “I’m too sinful to attain salvation.”
This is true of us all, which is why Jesus laid down His life for us. Don’t refuse God’s mercy by focusing more on your sins than on His forgiveness (1 Jn. 1:8). If Christ is in you, His righteousness is also in you. Trust in God and His Word because steadfast faith conquers everything. Feelings follow faith, and in the long run, so does our behavior.
5. “I’m the worst person in the world at/because of…”
Do you sometimes compare yourself with others while exaggerating your own misery? We’ve all done it, even though it only leads to further depression and despair. If you’re in this rut, stop making false comparisons just so you can feel sorry for yourself. Focus on the blessings you have, not on what you don’t have. Take time every day to give thanks and praise to God, while being sure to praise Him for the wonderful future that He has planned for you (Jer. 29:11).
6. “Wealth and possessions are a measure of God’s love for me.”
True wealth consists of much more than money and possessions. It’s found in intangibles, including our relationship with God (Who has promised us eternal life), relationships with others, and our inner resources. Many people have material wealth, but don’t have joy, peace of mind, good health, and other non-material blessings, all of which I hope you have. After Job lost his family and earthly possessions, he learned that God alone was sufficient for him.
7. “I’m afraid.”
We all have fears, whether they be related to people, the future, or whatever. We need to confront our fears, even if only in our minds. The way to do this is to first accept or “own” each fear. Then sit and reflect on it in the light of reason and faith. Also, find and think about relevant scriptures such as, “He Who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 Jn. 4:4).
8. “Nobody cares about me.”
The sad truth is that apart from God, everyone cares mostly about themselves. People can be lonely even if they have a spouse, a family, and many “friends.” Despite the pervasive self-centeredness in the world, we can still experience nearly unconditional love. It comes from mutual acceptance and sacrifice, which means learning to care about other people in an altruistic way. You can start by taking an interest in other people. Some of them will return the favor by wanting to know more about you.
9. “I’ve missed out on God’s plan for my life.”
God had foreknowledge of all our sins, including those that we would commit after we came to know Him. When we sin and miss paths that God wanted us to take, He’s able to adjust His plans and guidance, as He had anticipated from eternity past. Know that no matter what missteps you have made, God is always faithful. As Jesus assured us, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).
10. “God doesn’t really love me.”
When we experience problems like the ones in this list, we can be tempted to think that God doesn’t really love us. However, God sent proof of His love in the Person of Jesus Christ, Who suffered and died for us. If you’re a Christian, it’s only because God chose you to believe in His Son (Jn. 15:16). How privileged we are! If you need further assurance of God’s love, seek Him, for He will surely answer. Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
This list is intended to help you address common causes of discouragement. We can’t avoid trials, nor should we expect to. However, we can learn how to properly respond to the lies that beset us and sometimes get us down. Again, it’s the will of God that you be happy because these are not the words of Joel Osteen: “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice.” (Phil. 4:4). God’s Word also says, “Give thanks in all things, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thess. 5:18).
If this post has helped you, please share it with others who can benefit. Don’t let Satan steal the joy that could be theirs.