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

 

Who’s Across Your Table? Tips for Conversing During Tense Times

Listening

It was one of those early morning scrolls through Facebook after checking the headlines. First, did anything happen overnight? What do I need to tell my teenagers about? Any natural disasters? Are we safe? Finally my curiosity shifted from global headlines to my own nation and city and eventually toward my own network of people I know personally.

And there it was.

The post was raw and honest and brave, and so there’s no point in my rephrasing my husband’s cousin’s words:

FB Post anonymous

Did you catch it?

I’m not sharing a link to the article, nor am I even sharing the title with you, for our discussion today is not really about the National Anthem controversy at all. It’s about how we interact with one another.

So, did you catch it?! “But the more conversations I engage in with like-minded people and not…” It’s simple, but it’s a mountain’s worth of strength as we climb the grueling, uncomfortable hike toward living in community.

Whether you’re unsettled because what feels normal appears to be unraveling or you’re overwhelmed by how far we need to go — there’s value in this woman’s “confession” for all of us. Her courage and ability to risk can be a model as we engage in conversation about current events and social justice issues and even doctrine. Really, this is a model for us as we talk about anything.

So, who’s across your table? Who are you having conversations with? Are you engaging with people who don’t look like you? Who don’t vote like you? Whose experiences and backgrounds and perspectives are different than your own?

Who are you engaging with, but for today: Who are you listening to?

Imagine the impact it would have on our communities if we saw someone kneeling and said, “Let’s go to dinner. Tell me WHY you’re kneeling. Tell me more.” Or, if we heard about a co-worker’s commitment to standing, and we were hungry to hear where her passion and perspective comes from. Or if here in St. Louis, we saw someone protesting and said, “Let me take you to coffee. Tell me WHY you’re protesting.”

Are we brave enough to listen to the counter-narrative? Brave enough to consider to it?

It’s really validating to have someone listen and nod and agree with every statement you make. I know because I like that feeling. I like the affirmation. I feel intelligent and valuable and worthy. But it doesn’t sharpen me. And it doesn’t motivate me to move toward others who are different. And it certainly doesn’t help restore the brokenness I see all around me.

Are we brave enough to leave the echo-chamber and take a seat at the table? When done in humility and with a posture to hear and learn, the conversation is rich, I promise. It’s as rich as an abundant feast that satisfies cravings and the deep, deep hunger you didn’t even know you had.

” … My beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”  James 1:19, 20

Or in another translation:Listen, open your ears, harness your desire to speak, and don’t get worked up into a rage so easily, my brothers and sisters. Human anger is a futile exercise that will never produce God’s kind of justice in this world.” 

It’s so hard.

And are we brave enough take Paul’s advice to the Corinthian church who was struggling all over the place to live in unity? Dare we be patient and kind? Are we brave enough to say “no” to boasting and arrogance and rudeness? Paul describes love as not insisting on your own way, not irritable, and not resentful. Nor does love delight when someone on the other side messes up. Rather, love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

We can do this. I know we can. Through the power of the Holy Spirit who whispers conviction yet comforts us just the same, we can do this.

Are you ready to go deeper? Ready to listen? There’s a seat at the table right here for you.

photo source: Tim Wright on Unsplash