When You Think God Doesn’t Care: How to Recognize Deception

Deception Original

I see you — running around, doing your work, yearning to live purposefully. I see your deep, deep soul and your mind rich with knowledge. I see you clinging to truth as you remind yourself to hold on, for some days you can feel yourself drifting away.

Does He care? Does He love me? Because if God did, I wouldn’t wake up questioning if this is all worth it. I wouldn’t read about California, and Puerto Rico, and Mexico, and Florida, and Texas. I wouldn’t see my own angst and pain reflected in the eyes of the next generation. I wouldn’t feel forgotten in midlife, and millennials wouldn’t be asking, “What now?”

Yeah, I see you because you’re me.


I’ve read the story a hundred times. I’ve felt the shame. I’ve wanted control, too. I’ve choked on regret and watched my choices unravel.

But the deception. I hadn’t quite seen it before in its ugly depth.

You’ve heard the story, but look at the process, the progression. Can you see the subtle way deception is woven into the conversation before a woman’s story is changed forever? It’s worth getting into the nitty-gritty by reading every single word…

Genesis 3
Of all the wild creatures the Eternal God had created, the serpent was the craftiest.
“crafty”: (adjective) skillful in underhand or evil schemes; cunning; deceitful; sly.

Serpent (to the woman): Is it true that God has forbidden you to eat fruits from the trees of the garden?
Satan questions if God told her the truth. He puts the idea in Eve’s mind that God would actually withhold goodness and beauty and provision from her. The drama-king lies even in his question to create confusion. “Is it true, Eve, that God is withholding all fruit in this garden from you?”

Eve: No, serpent. God said we are free to eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. We are granted access to any variety and all amounts of fruit with one exception: the fruit from the tree found in the center of the garden. God instructed us not to eat or touch the fruit of that tree or we would die.
Eve gives the facts and recounts the truth, telling him what God really said. She clings to what’s real and attempts to set the intruder straight.

Serpent: Die? No, you’ll not die. God is playing games with you. The truth is that God knows the day you eat the fruit from that tree you will awaken something powerful in you and become like Him: possessing knowledge of both good and evil.
Do you see it here? He mocks what God said, dismisses His words, and implies that God is not only withholding goodness from her, but that He is actually deceiving her. Satan then boldly states an imperative as if he is the authority and reinvents the truth (“The truth is…”), while he redefines God as One who is afraid and vulnerable. He offers Eve the ability to have ultimate wisdom, power, and authority. He positions God as One who can not be trusted. “You don’t need God, Eve, and you can’t believe what He says.”

The woman approached the tree, eyed its fruit, and coveted its mouth-watering, wisdom-granting beauty. She plucked a fruit from the tree and ate. She then offered the fruit to her husband who was close by, and he ate as well. Suddenly their eyes were opened to a reality previously unknown. For the first time, they sensed their vulnerability and rushed to hide their naked bodies…


I don’t think she saw it coming. And it terrifies me, for I know this is my story, too.

I start my day knowing truth in the morning, but I can doubt in a matter of minutes. Does He really have it all under control? Is He good? Is His story really beautiful?

A text of angst from my teenager… a post of someone’s meaningful evening on Instagram… a vulnerable confession from a friend — and I feel my heart unraveling. I want to control my child’s well-being. I feel shame over spending my night in self-absorption rest. I question where God is in the midst of a friend’s suffering.

Is this your story, too? I don’t think I’m alone in this.

Here are some intentional steps for when you feel pulled away by doubt:

  1. Recognize that Satan is your enemy — not your colleague you’re having conflict with, not those who are hurting your children at school, not those who see things differently than you do. Satan is your enemy, and he delights in disunity. We see it here in one of the very first stories in Genesis.
  2. Compare how you’re feeling to the truth found in Scripture. We have volumes and volumes at our fingertips affirming God’s goodness and His love for us. Study your thought-patterns and acknowledge how Satan has been lying to you.
  3. Look at how pain has changed you. Look back on your seasons of suffering and tension and wrestling, comparing who you are today with the person you once were. Pain precedes growth and forms us into who we are now. It digs deep wells into our souls that crave and seek for truth. It imprints wisdom onto our hearts.
  4. Search for redemption in your own life. We all have stories of longing for something that never comes true. We all have had dreams die. But if enough time has passed, we can look back and see brokenness restored. Identify seasons of pain in your story and reflect on how those fragments have been redeemed.

Friend, together we must keep our eyes open, for “your enemy the devil is prowling around outside like a roaring lion, just waiting and hoping for the chance to devour someone.” (I Peter 5:8)

We must remind each other what is true and what are lies.

Now is the time to invite each other to speak into our lives instead of nodding and telling us what we want to hear in the moment. Misery loves company, but the company often goes away, leaving you lonelier than before.

“…Then we will no longer be like children, tossed around here and there upon ocean waves, picked up by every gust of religious teaching spoken by liars or swindlers or deceivers. Instead, by truth spoken in love, we are to grow in every way into Him—the Anointed One, the head. He joins and holds together the whole body…” Ephesians 4:14-16

Are you with me? This is what community is for.

Photo by Paul Gilmore on Unsplash

 

He Transcends Time Again

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He did again. He transcended time.

A simple chalkboard message God gave me in June was really for a mystery I would face in July. Oh, why does He love me so? Why does He hold my tender heart again and again?


The Author has done it since the beginning of His Great Story…

… a thread of redemption woven throughout centuries. Centuries.

A timeless God, perfectly planning events.  Perfectly planning time.

I’m amazed at His pursuit of us. I see God’s intentional love story planned from the first day His heart was wounded by His own creation. I marvel at His crimson thread woven throughout generations, stitching together a masterpiece of grace. I see His tenderness preparing our hearts for what’s to come.


And here I am — humbled — when I think of my own story, my own little mural, as compared to God’s huge rescue plan. And yet this timeless God, the Planner of events and healing and restoration, does it again and again. He prepares our hearts in advance for what we face today. 

I believe deeply in God’s sovereignty and His big picture and a story larger than my own. I find comfort as I meditate on these beliefs and my smallness.

We moved this past spring, and in June I hung our 20 year-old slate in our new dining room. I didn’t know what to write on it, so I penned these words from a Hillsong United song. It seemed strange that this particular phrase came to mind, for I don’t really have trust issues — especially with God. But the words are poetic, and the song is beautiful, so I went with it. Several times over the past month, I challenged myself to erase it and write something more relevant to me or my family, but nothing came to mind.

God’s grace.

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You see, He had me write myself an encouraging note a month ago because He knew I’d need it this week. We didn’t face a huge tragedy or crisis, but just enough of a disappointment to remind us of our frail hearts. And our need for Him.

I love how He works like this. I love how He transcends time.

There have been books picked up again – after being ignored for months – whose truth spoke to present circumstances. I’ve journeyed with friends through their pain, only to discover later their path would become my own. I’ve written words in the past to encourage others whose messages would later heal me. I ponder at how He prepares our hearts – so tenderly, and then not-so-tenderly other times.

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?” God asks His people.  “Though she may forget, I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” (Isaiah 49:15-16, NIV) Carved on His hands. Etchings transcending time. My walls – my days – my salvation and forever security are on the forefront of His mind.

Oh, His thread of redemption pierces me with truth and weaves a larger beauty I could never create myself. I’m covered by this masterpiece. I hide in its comfort. I wrap myself in His grace.

And once again, I’m amazed at His timeless grace evidenced in this very time.


photo source: Murray Campbell on unsplash