by Lori Smith
God is against you. He loves and blesses His other children, but He’s abandoned you. He’s angry at you. He doesn’t really have compassion toward you. Your life is so hard. Why do you believe this anyway?!
I was having a horrible day — not “normal” horrible, not like everything-is-going-wrong kind of day (although those are bad enough). I was exhausted. My brain hurt. I couldn’t think straight, could barely think at all. I wasn’t suicidal, but the darkness of depression loomed over me like a cloud I couldn’t shake.
I live with chronic Lyme disease, which for me causes chronic fatigue. On my worst days, when I’m in the middle of a flare, I have a lot of neurological symptoms. My brain barely works. My emotions are unstable. I don’t feel God’s presence.
This is when Satan attacks.
He uses my own vulnerability, my pain and heartache, to try to push me into doubt and disbelief.
My situation is extreme, but I believe the pattern holds true for all of us. When we’re walking through a tough season, Satan takes advantage of that. Our enemy plants thoughts in our heads, and our own hearts may whisper lies.
You may be grieving or deeply hurt or, like me, sick and unable to think clearly. You may feel abandoned or hopeless. So you have a harder time sorting out the truth in the midst of all the lies.
Here’s what to do when that happens:
1. Don’t be surprised.
Scripture tells us that our enemy the devil is like a roaring lion, seeking people to devour (I Peter 5:8). Perhaps those words are very familiar to you, but stop and think about them for a second. Can you imagine being alone in the African bush at night, being hunted by a lion trying to kill you?
We have an enemy who is ferocious, who hunts us down and wishes us great harm.
He’s not going to give us a break because we’re in a tough season; he’s going to attack harder. Like a lion on the savanna — it’s the wounded prey who are the easiest target.
In the #blessed Western world, we have things so much easier than our brothers and sisters around the globe who live with ongoing war and persecution. And we’re so focused on our own individual lives — our own fulfillment — that we can forget the story into which we were born, the overall Christian story.
That story tells us that actually this isn’t all about us and our fulfillment, that we were born into a battle that began with Adam and Eve in the garden: God created, Satan tempted, mankind disobeyed. Thousands of years later, Christ redeemed.
While Christ won the ultimate victory when he rose from the dead, the battle continues until he returns and Satan is finally defeated for good. Our entire lives, spiritually speaking, take place on a battlefield.
So don’t be surprised. This is war. Expect it to be hard — and even harder when you’re vulnerable because of a difficult life situation.
2. Ditch the shame and guilt.
I’ve seen this over and over again, in my life and the lives of friends. One of the ways Satan will attack is to fill you with shame and guilt — about whatever he can. This seems to go hand-in-hand with walking through a difficult season. He will try to just pile on more when you’re already struggling.
I tend to deal with a lot of false guilt anyway, but on my bad days it can be extreme. I feel guilty for not being able to work (because of an illness I can’t control!). I feel guilty for all the things that pile up around me that I can’t get done — dishes, laundry, paperwork — things I’d love to be on top of, but that ultimately have no moral value one way or the other.
Then the doubts run through my head and I feel guilty for not being a better Christian.
You’ll probably find the same; Satan will find a way to take your situation and make you feel guilty for it, whether that’s justified or not. And then he’ll make you feel guilty for the lies he’s planting in your mind. Like me, you may believe you’re a bad Christian just for having these thoughts.
Before you really understand what’s happened, you’re walking around carrying a great weight of guilt with you everywhere. It makes you feel defeated and you believe you’re a failure.
But this guilt is NOT from God. Romans tells us, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 8:1 ESV). And we know — even if we are guilty — that when we confess, God forgives us fully (I John 1:9).
Don’t let Satan pile shame and guilt on top of you. Recognize that as another attack from the enemy.
3. Take every thought captive.
When you’re in a tough season and dealing with challenges on multiple fronts, it’s easy to get lost in the chaos of emotions, or to be overwhelmed just trying to survive. You may not even realize what you’re thinking or how it’s affecting you.
One thing I’ve found especially helpful is to actually write down the lies you’re hearing, what you’re tempted to believe. Take just a few minutes of quiet with a journal or even just a scrap piece of paper to write down and evaluate your thoughts.
If you have been caught up believing a lie, somehow just seeing it there in black and white can remove its power. Telling a friend about it — speaking it out loud — can have the same effect.
Then find Bible verses that directly contradict the lies, so you know what to hold onto and meditate on in this hard season. You can’t just let your thoughts and feelings roam and let them lead you on their own. You have to take active steps to “be transformed by the renewal of your mind,” (Romans 12:2).
4. Talk to God about it.
You might feel like you can’t admit to God what you’re thinking.
But here’s the thing — God already knows all your thoughts. He can handle whatever questions you want to throw at him, and help you walk through not only the difficult season you’re in but also the doubts and questions that are in your heart.
If Satan can get you to feel guilty and to avoid praying about these doubts you’re having, he’ll use that to drive a deeper wedge between you and the Lord.
Whatever you do, don’t stop talking to God!
Not long ago, I was really having a hard time reading the Psalms. It just seemed like every time I looked at a Psalm I found a promise that God didn’t seem to be fulfilling in my life. I was confused and hurt.
I remember asking God, “I just need help right now with the Psalms. I don’t understand them. Can you help me?”
Somehow my struggles with the Psalms came up in conversation with a friend (who happened to be my pastor’s wife). Not long after, I got a package in the mail with their favorite devotional translation of the Psalms by a Hebrew scholar. It was such a gift to me! It’s given me insights on the Psalms I’d never seen before and helped me study and understand them.
When you talk to God, I don’t know how He’ll answer you, but I know He will.
5. Steep yourself in truth.
I left this for last but it’s actually the most important: delve into the truth!
Our feelings are important, and we need to pay attention to them — but we also have to remember that feelings are not a good source for theological truth. When your feelings are out of control, when your heart is hurting, it’s crucial to dive into scripture and remember what is still true when everything else is falling apart.
Psalm 1 tells us we are blessed when we delight in God’s Word and meditate on it. His Word roots and grounds us so we will be “like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither” (Psalm 1:3).
The Word of God is our firm foundation. It is powerful — sweet like honey to nourish and sustain you (Psalm 19) and a “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17) to arm you for spiritual battle.
When the rain is falling, the floods are rising, and the wind is blowing, hold fast to your firm foundation, the truth of God’s Word.
May God strengthen us and fill our hearts with truth!
Comfort for Dark Days Online Bible Study
I created my new online Bible study, Comfort for Dark Days to help fill our minds with truth during these hard seasons. This 7-part study focuses on the key truths that have been my lifeline in the midst of 20+ years of chronic illness.
Each day in the study we address a different fear, pain, or lie your heart may be whispering to you — the lie that you are abandoned, the fear that no one understands, the pain of no one really seeing what you’re struggling with, the deep-seated fear that perhaps God doesn’t really love you, is even against you.
If you’ve struggled with any of those, I hope you’ll check out Comfort for Dark Days. It will deeply encourage you. I can promise you — the truth is better than you can even comprehend! And the next time you’re in a tough season and start to hear murmurings of doubt, you’ll be well-armed to fight back.
Lori Smith is the author of several books and creator of the online Bible study Comfort for Dark Days, which incorporates video teaching, a study guide, worship music, and original watercolor art. She says, “I’m hopeful that my experience will help you see God’s love, presence, and goodness in the midst of the darkness — and will give you some holy comfort along the way.” Click here to learn more. Follow her on IG @writerlorismith.
Photography: JenniMarie Photography