A lie that you believe is as powerful as the truth. Even though it’s a lie, if you believe it and you allow it to shape your thinking and your understanding, then it becomes as powerful, binding, constricting—or—freeing as an absolute truth. This happens all the time, with people we know, motives we misunderstand, rumors we hear. And that’s a problem for Christians, because we tend to put God’s stamp of approval on the lies we believe. And the consequences for us—and the people we lie to—can be deadly.
Lie #1: God won’t give you more than you can handle. Let’s agree to not say this to anyone anymore. It’s a lie. I mean, it sounds good and we mean well, and we want it to be true. At some point, someone somewhere said it’s in the Bible. History has proven that’s all it takes. If someone says it’s in the Bible, then we tend to believe it’s true. But these words are nowhere in the Bible. Here’s where we thought it was: “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear” (I Corinthians 10:13). This has been misquoted and misunderstood. It’s only about temptation—not about you facing more than you can handle. But when we tell this lie to someone, she thinks, “Then why did he pick me for this special project?” If we believe this lie, then we will misunderstand why bad things happen and what God is up to.
Truth: God will often give you more than you can handle. He will put you in a season, a chapter of your life, when you are in over your head. Why would the Lord put you in a situation where you have too much to handle, where you cannot do it on your own? So that the world will know that there is a God, and so that everyone who is watching you will know that the Lord rescues his people.
Lie #2: God wants me to be happy. Not true. This is a tricky one because it’s almost true. Just a little bit off center. If you believe God wants you to be happy, then you’ll believe that whatever makes you happy is okay with God. If you believe God wants you to be happy, then you’ll also believe that whatever makes you unhappy can’t possibly be what God wants for you. If you feel unhappy, you’ll believe that discomfort and delays and inconveniences can’t possibly be God’s will for your life.
Truth: God wants you to be more than just happy. If you set your GPS to happy, you will never stop driving. It will always be just around the corner, just around the bend, just beyond the next horizon. You’ll never arrive. He wants more than just your happiness. Here’s where we got it wrong: “He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). We found the part we liked, and we held on to that with both hands… but we have forgotten the entire verse. Here’s the whole thing: “Take delight in God, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” What that means: Want what he wants, and then he will give you what you want. Be part of what he’s doing, and you’ll find something so much deeper, bigger, and better than happiness.
Lie #3: Following God will make my life easier. Again, it seems like it should be true. If God is so loving, if he is all powerful, and if he is so much in control, then surely he would want to reward me for my loyalty. He wouldn’t want my financial ruin, any relational disintegration, or even a leaking roof. If we swallow this as truth and organize our lives around this principle, then we place ourselves right at the center of existence. We think this is all there is because this is all we’ve known. But the reality is that God created this world thousands of years ago, and we are but a blip on the timeline. It was perfect when he made it, but it’s not perfect anymore. He’s working to redeem it, to make all of this perfect again. There’s a deeper reality at work.
Truth: Following God will make your life better. But here’s the corollary: better is almost always harder. Anytime you undertake a journey of transformation, you know that better is almost always harder. Get healthier, pay off debts, climb a mountain, run a marathon, fix your marriage—all of these things are better and harder than the lazy life. You and I will have some pain in our lives. We’ll face heartache and disillusionment and hurt. That’s a result of the world we live in, this world that’s been ruined. But every time we encounter pain, we get in touch with what’s actually happening, what’s really going on in this world: God is making it new. And like everything else worth having, the journey is hard.
There might be something that you believe that isn’t right. If you want to get unstuck from this lie, you don’t have to read more books or check more boxes. All you have to do is know the truth. When you change what you think, then the lie has no power over you. Open your mind just a little bit to the possibility that you’re stuck in a spiritual cul de sac. The bottom line is this, a truth we can actually find in the Bible: “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
Tricia Lott Williford lives and writes in Denver. She attends Southeast Christian Church in Parker, Colorado, and many of her articles on faith are born from the conversations and teachings of her pastor, Phil Vaughan. You can join the conversation with Southeast’s online services this weekend, and you can give God five minutes today with their simple daily reading plan.