False Doctrine, False Teachers, Suffering

Throwback Thursday ~ Band-Aids vs. Chemotherapy: Why Suffering Women are Drawn to False Doctrine and 7 Things We Can do to Help

Originally published October 7, 2016suffering-women-false-doctrine

 

Joyce Meyer. Beth Moore. Paula White. Lysa TerKeurst. Christine Caine. Lisa Harper. What do all of these women have in common?

Yes, they’re all false teachers, but they’re also all victims of sexual abuse.

I haven’t conducted a scientific poll, survey, or longitudinal study, so my observations could be way off base, but I’ve been noticing lately – from hearing these women’s testimonies, reading comments on their blog articles, and talking to women who follow them – that women who have been sexually abused seem to be particularly vulnerable to “feel good” false doctrine.

And it’s not just victims of sexual abuse. It’s women who are suffering from the death of a child or spouse, divorce, infertility, illness, spousal abuse- all of those agonies that strike right at the core of women’s hearts. You’ll find them in droves at the conferences, book signings, and blogs of false teachers.

Why is that?

Because those things hurt. I mean, “I want to crawl under the covers and die,” hurt. “My life is over,” hurt. “An elephant is sitting on my chest and I can’t breathe,” hurt. These precious, beautiful souls God created for joy are walking through something no human being should ever have to experience.

And Satan, that evil beast, is right there to exploit their pain and make things worse by molesting them spiritually. He sends false teachers to whisper sweetly in their ears, “It hurts, doesn’t it? But I can make all that pain go away, now.

Let’s just be honest for a minute. That’s what we all want. I don’t care how doctrinally sound and spiritually mature you are- when excruciating pain explodes into your life, you don’t skip through the tulips to meet it with a smile on your face and a giddy tune on your lips. You just want it to go away. And like a confidence man with a wagon full of snake oil, false teachers are at the ready to offer a magic elixir that will miraculously cure what ails you. Instantly.

“You’re God’s masterpiece- His princess!”

“It’s never God’s will for you to suffer.”

“Just declare the things that are not as though they are!”

“God will give you back what you lost a hundredfold.”

“Sow a seed into my ministry and God will open up the windows of heaven and pour out His blessings!”

“Your words create reality. Just speak out what you want and you can have it!”

“No weapon formed against you shall prosper!”

“God wants to do the impossible in your life, so dream big dreams!”

In other words, “Just do or believe X. You’ll feel better and your situation will turn around. I suffered just like you did, and look what God did for me!” The only problem with that kind of teaching is…well…the Bible. The Bible doesn’t make that sort of promise to anyone, in fact it says just the opposite. Jesus promised us tribulationJames, various trialsPaul, persecutionPeter, suffering.

The truth is, since the Fall, we live in a broken, sinful world. We’re going to suffer. It’s often going to be long, painful, and messy. Sometimes, there won’t be a cure this side of Glory. God’s promise to followers of Christ is not that He will eradicate our suffering, but that He will walk through it with us.

So how do we provide chemotherapy for the soul to an anguished woman who just wants a pretty Hello Kitty Band-Aid for her emotions or life circumstances? How do we impart hard, healing truth when she’s being seduced by an easy, deadly lie?

1. Be honest.
Don’t be tempted to “compete” with false teachers by telling her God’s going to fix everything the way she wants it. She might die from the cancer she was just diagnosed with. She might never be able to get pregnant. Her estranged husband might not come back. Things might not get better. They might get worse.

2. Walk with her.
Joyce Meyer isn’t going to be there at three in the morning when she can’t stop crying. Beth Moore isn’t going to go to court with her and hold her hand when the verdict is handed down. Christine Caine isn’t going to pull her hair back when she’s vomiting from chemo. You be there. You comfort her. That’s why God put you in her life.

3. Set her mind on things above, not on earthly things.
Help her keep her eyes focused on Christ, not her situation. Pray with her. Sing songs of praise with her. Remind her of the gospel. Lead her to be thankful. Take her to church. Recite Scripture together.

4. Shut up.
Some of us are fixers. We want to make people feel better or fix their situation by doing something, saying something, teaching something. And a lot of times that’s not what a suffering woman needs. She just needs a hug. Someone to sit and cry with. Someone to eat raw cookie dough with. Hush. We don’t have to talk things to death all the time, and we’re probably not going to be able to fix the situation anyway.

5. Rehearse God’s real promises.
The false teachers are throwing sparkly fake promises at her. You give her the real ones. They’re so much better.

6. Suffer well.
Suffering is going to come your way, too, or maybe it already has. Set an example by being real about your own struggles and failures, yet testifying to God’s faithfulness during tribulation. What did you learn from your suffering? How did it build your trust in God and draw you closer to Him?

7. Pray.
Ask God to give you wisdom about what to say or do to help and comfort her. And intercede for her and her situation, as well, because, ultimately, regardless of your words or actions, it is the Holy Spirit’s job to comfort her heart and give her peace and trust in God. (Hmmm…maybe that’s why He’s called the Comforter?)

The desire to escape from suffering is normal and in no way an indication of a lack of faith. Even Jesus prayed in the garden that if there were some other way than the cross, God would “let this cup pass” from Him. But sometimes, as difficult as it is to understand, suffering is part of God’s plan for our lives. It’s not His desire that we escape it but that we depend on Him, rest in Him, trust Him, and obey Him as He carries us through it. When we love our sisters in Christ, this is the truth we will impart to them, not the heal-all salve of improved life circumstances and feel good-ism the used car salesmen of evangelicalism are hawking.

The Ten (10 Commandments Bible Study)

The Ten: Lesson 13

the-ten

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Exodus 20:18-20

Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off 19 and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” 20 Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.”

Exodus 24:3-8

Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.” And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord. And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”


Romans 3:19-20

Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

Romans 7:1-12

Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

Galatians 3:23-26

Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.


Romans 13:8-10

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

1 John 5:2-3

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider:

1. In Exodus 20:18-19, how did the Israelites react to God’s appearance to Moses? What was Moses’ response to them? (20) What did Moses say would be two results of God testing the people? (20) How many times does the word “fear” appear in verse 20? What is the difference in meaning between the first “fear” and the second one?

2. Briefly skim Exodus 20:21-23:33. In addition to the Ten Commandments, what are some of the other laws, or categories of laws, God gave Moses? In the Exodus 24 passage above, what was the people’s response to hearing all of these laws? (3) Describe the sequence of events taking place in Exodus 24:3-8. Why did the people respond twice? (3,7) Was there any difference between these two responses? Compare the people’s response in this passage with their response in Exodus 19:5-8. What events transpired between the response in chapter 19 and the response in chapter 24?

3. In Exodus 24:6,8, why did Moses sprinkle the altar and the people with blood? How did this formalize Israel’s agreement to the Mosaic covenant? How does the Mosaic covenant point ahead to the new covenant in Christ? Are Christians still bound by the Mosaic covenant?

4. In what ways did the giving of the law and Israel’s agreement to the Mosaic covenant help officially establish Israel as a nation and set Israel apart from the surrounding pagan nations?

5. Examine the Romans 3 and 7 passages. What does it mean that the law makes us “accountable” to God? (3:19) Why can’t we be made righteous in God’s eyes by simply striving to keep His laws? (3:20) Read Romans 3:20 and 7:7-8 together. What do these verses tell us about the connection between knowing the law and sin?

6. Explain the analogy of dying to works of the law that Paul is trying to convey in Romans 7:1-6. Compare verse 6 to Galatians 3:23-26. What does Galatians say was the purpose of the law, and what is our obligation to it now? What does the latter part of verse 6 – “we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code” – mean? Does this mean we no longer have to obey God’s moral laws such as the ones in the 10 Commandments? (12)

7. Study the Romans 13 and 1 John 5 passages. What is the theme of these two passages? What does Paul mean when he says, “the one who loves another has fulfilled the law”? (13:8) Who are the two parties we demonstrate love for when we keep God’s commands? How does loving God and keeping His commands automatically translate into loving others? (5:2) How does loving God and our neighbors, thus keeping God’s commands, demonstrate to others that we belong to Christ?


Homework:

This week, view your sin or obedience through the lenses of love. Examine the sins you commit. How do they demonstrate your failure to love God and love your neighbor? Examine instances of your obedience to God’s commandments and think about how they demonstrate your love for Him and for your neighbor. As you pray, ask God to increase your love for Him. Increased love leads to increased obedience.

The Ten (10 Commandments Bible Study)

The Ten: Lesson 12

the-ten

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Exodus 20:17

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

Ephesians 5:3,5

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints…For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

James 4:1-3

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.


Luke 12:13-21

Someone in the crowd said to [Jesus], “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Hebrews 13:5

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Colossians 3:5, 12-15

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

1 Timothy 6:6-11

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider:

1. Read through all of today’s passages. What does it mean to covet? How are coveting, jealousy, and greed related? Compare the tenth Commandment to the other nine. In what way is the sin of coveting different from the sins in the other Commandments? Is coveting observable? What specific things does the tenth Commandment tell us not to covet (Exodus 20:17)?

2. How is coveting at the root of murder, theft, adultery, and lying? The Ephesians and Colossians passages say that coveting is idolatry. Why? Can you think of any other sins coveting could lead to? How could recognizing coveting and putting it to death help prevent it from snowballing into more sin?

3. Think about coveting, a secret sin of the heart, in the immediate context of the tenth Commandment (God is setting apart Israel as His own special people and establishing them as a nation). How would obedience to this Commandment have been conducive to keeping law and order in civil society?

4. Do you think the nations surrounding Israel who worshiped pagan gods had laws against coveting? Why or why not? If any of them did, what would be the difference between a false god making and enforcing a law against a secret sin of the heart and God making and enforcing such a law? How would a law against a secret sin have pointed Israel’s pagan neighbors to the one true God who sees and judges the hidden secrets of the heart? How would this have been a testimony to God’s power and omniscience?

5. According to the Ephesians and James passages, is coveting characteristic of Christians or lost people? What does James say are some of the results of coveting? How might having a covetous heart affect our prayer life? (James 4:3) What does Ephesians 5:5 say is the consequence of unrepentant coveting?

6. What role did coveting play in the parable Jesus told in the Luke passage? Explain Luke 12:15 in your own words.

7. Examine the Hebrews, Colossians and 1 Timothy passages and compare them with the tenth Commandment in Exodus 20:17. Is the Old Testament instruction about coveting singular (one part) or binary (two parts)? The New Testament instruction? What are the “thou shalt not” and the “thou shalt” instructions about coveting in these New Testament passages? Instead of coveting, we are to be c_____. (Hebrews 13:5) Why, according to Hebrews 13:5, are Christians to be content? How does it demonstrate to others that Christ is sufficient when we are content instead of covetous? Read Colossians 3:15. How can thankfulness counteract coveting?


Homework:

When we covet, we are essentially saying to God, “What You have so lovingly and graciously provided for me isn’t good enough. I deserve better.” Coveting brings with it the sin of ingratitude toward God. Spend some time in prayer asking God to bring to mind any areas of your life in which you’re coveting, and ask Him to forgive you.

Make a list of the things, people, and life circumstances God has blessed you with and keep it handy (maybe in your notes app in your phone?). This week if you find yourself coveting something, someone, or a certain circumstance, drop what you’re doing, go back to that list and offer a prayer of thanksgiving to God for what He has already provided for you. Ask Him to make your heart content.

The Ten (10 Commandments Bible Study)

The Ten: Lesson 11

the-ten

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Exodus 20:16

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Exodus 23:1

“You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.


Proverbs 6:16-19, 19:22

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.

Revelation 21:8

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”


Numbers 23:19

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

John 8:44-46, 14:6

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.


Proverbs 30:5

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

John 17:17

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

2 Timothy 2:15

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.


Psalm 101:7

No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my [David’s] house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my [David’s] eyes.

Colossians 3:9-10

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Ephesians 4:15

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider:

1. Examine the two Exodus verses. What does the ninth Commandment mean by “bear false witness against your neighbor“? Is bearing false witness limited to an adjudicative scenario? What are some other ways to bear false witness against someone?

2. Is lying that does not involve a neighbor bearing false witness? (Ex: “I ate two cookies,” when you really ate three or “This car you’re considering buying has never been in an accident,” when it really has.) Is God OK with these kinds of lies since they aren’t specifically prohibited in the ninth Commandment? Why or why not?

3. Going back to the immediate context of the ninth Commandment, (God is setting apart Israel as His own special people and establishing them as a nation), why would it have been important to civil and criminal law and order for Israelites not to bear false witness in court cases? How would this standard of truthfulness in legal matters have set Israel apart from the pagan nations surrounding them and have been a witness to those pagan nations of the one true God?

4. Study the Proverbs 6 and Revelation verses. How does God view lying? What are the two types of lying mentioned in verses 17 and 19? Consider the following words and phrases. How are each of these a form of lying: concealing facts, slander, libel, gossip, breaking promises, failure to tell the whole truth, deception, white lies, cheating, spinning or slanting the facts, embellishing, exaggerating? According to Revelation 21:8, what is the punishment for liars? Which liars?

5. Consider what the Numbers 23 and John 8 passages say about the nature of God and the nature of Satan. Whose nature is truth? Whose is lies? What are some ways God exemplifies truth and Satan exemplifies lies? Whose nature are God’s people to emulate? Why? Are we representing God well to others when we lie, break promises, or fail to be people of our word?

6. Examine Proverbs 30:5, John 17:17, and 2 Timothy 2:15. Why is the Bible called “the word of truth”? Has anyone ever been able to prove any part of God’s word to be untrue? Why is it crucial to mankind’s relationship with God that the Bible be true? How is truth foundational to trust? How does it malign God’s truthful nature when we don’t trust Him? Why is it important that Christians handle God’s word correctly and truthfully?

7. How would you restate the ninth Commandment as a positive (a “Thou shalt ____.” statement rather than “Thou shalt not ____.”)? What are some ways the Psalm, Colossians, and Ephesians verses indicate that God’s people should walk in truth? Can you think of other passages that exhort Christians to be truthful?


Homework:

Are there any areas of your life in which you’ve failed to speak and live truthfully? Repent to God and to anyone you have deceived, lied about, or been dishonest with and tell the truth.

Ironically, sometimes the hardest truths to tell are God’s truths. Is there someone you’ve failed to share the truth of the gospel with? Have you been dishonest with others, yourself, or God about a sin in your life? Have you “softened” the gospel or any of God’s teachings about sin and difficult issues when speaking to others because you’re trying to be nice or keep the peace? Have you overlooked an issue that needs to be addressed with God’s truth because you’re afraid? Are there any parts of the Bible you refuse to submit to because you think they’re wrong? Ask God to reveal to you any situations in your life that need a healthy dose of biblical truth, and pray that He will give you courage and wisdom to “speak the truth in love.”

False Doctrine, False Teachers, Suffering

Band-Aids vs. Chemotherapy: Why Suffering Women are Drawn to False Doctrine and 7 Things We Can do to Help

suffering-women-false-doctrine

 

Joyce Meyer. Beth Moore. Paula White. Lysa TerKeurst. Christine Caine. Lisa Harper. What do all of these women have in common?

Yes, they’re all false teachers, but they’re also all victims of sexual abuse.

I haven’t conducted a scientific poll, survey, or longitudinal study, so my observations could be way off base, but I’ve been noticing lately – from hearing these women’s testimonies, reading comments on their blog articles, and talking to women who follow them – that women who have been sexually abused seem to be particularly vulnerable to “feel good” false doctrine.

And it’s not just victims of sexual abuse. It’s women who are suffering from the death of a child or spouse, divorce, infertility, illness, spousal abuse- all of those agonies that strike right at the core of women’s hearts. You’ll find them in droves at the conferences, book signings, and blogs of false teachers.

Why is that?

Because those things hurt. I mean, “I want to crawl under the covers and die,” hurt. “My life is over,” hurt. “An elephant is sitting on my chest and I can’t breathe,” hurt. These precious, beautiful souls God created for joy are walking through something no human being should ever have to experience.

And Satan, that evil beast, is right there to exploit their pain and make things worse by molesting them spiritually. He sends false teachers to whisper sweetly in their ears, “It hurts, doesn’t it? But I can make all that pain go away, now.

Let’s just be honest for a minute. That’s what we all want. I don’t care how doctrinally sound and spiritually mature you are- when excruciating pain explodes into your life, you don’t skip through the tulips to meet it with a smile on your face and a giddy tune on your lips. You just want it to go away. And like a confidence man with a wagon full of snake oil, false teachers are at the ready to offer a magic elixir that will miraculously cure what ails you. Instantly.

“You’re God’s masterpiece- His princess!”

“It’s never God’s will for you to suffer.”

“Just declare the things that are not as though they are!”

“God will give you back what you lost a hundredfold.”

“Sow a seed into my ministry and God will open up the windows of heaven and pour out His blessings!”

“Your words create reality. Just speak out what you want and you can have it!”

“No weapon formed against you shall prosper!”

“God wants to do the impossible in your life, so dream big dreams!”

In other words, “Just do or believe X. You’ll feel better and your situation will turn around. I suffered just like you did, and look what God did for me!” The only problem with that kind of teaching is…well…the Bible. The Bible doesn’t make that sort of promise to anyone, in fact it says just the opposite. Jesus promised us tribulationJames, various trialsPaul, persecutionPeter, suffering.

The truth is, since the Fall, we live in a broken, sinful world. We’re going to suffer. It’s often going to be long, painful, and messy. Sometimes, there won’t be a cure this side of Glory. God’s promise to followers of Christ is not that He will eradicate our suffering, but that He will walk through it with us.

So how do we provide chemotherapy for the soul to an anguished woman who just wants a pretty Hello Kitty Band-Aid for her emotions or life circumstances? How do we impart hard, healing truth when she’s being seduced by an easy, deadly lie?

1. Be honest.
Don’t be tempted to “compete” with false teachers by telling her God’s going to fix everything the way she wants it. She might die from the cancer she was just diagnosed with. She might never be able to get pregnant. Her estranged husband might not come back. Things might not get better. They might get worse.

2. Walk with her.
Joyce Meyer isn’t going to be there at three in the morning when she can’t stop crying. Beth Moore isn’t going to go to court with her and hold her hand when the verdict is handed down. Christine Caine isn’t going to pull her hair back when she’s vomiting from chemo. You be there. You comfort her. That’s why God put you in her life.

3. Set her mind on things above, not on earthly things.
Help her keep her eyes focused on Christ, not her situation. Pray with her. Sing songs of praise with her. Remind her of the gospel. Lead her to be thankful. Take her to church. Recite Scripture together.

4. Shut up.
Some of us are fixers. We want to make people feel better or fix their situation by doing something, saying something, teaching something. And a lot of times that’s not what a suffering woman needs. She just needs a hug. Someone to sit and cry with. Someone to eat raw cookie dough with. Hush. We don’t have to talk things to death all the time, and we’re probably not going to be able to fix the situation anyway.

5. Rehearse God’s real promises.
The false teachers are throwing sparkly fake promises at her. You give her the real ones. They’re so much better.

6. Suffer well.
Suffering is going to come your way, too, or maybe it already has. Set an example by being real about your own struggles and failures, yet testifying to God’s faithfulness during tribulation. What did you learn from your suffering? How did it build your trust in God and draw you closer to Him?

7. Pray.
Ask God to give you wisdom about what to say or do to help and comfort her. And intercede for her and her situation, as well, because, ultimately, regardless of your words or actions, it is the Holy Spirit’s job to comfort her heart and give her peace and trust in God. (Hmmm…maybe that’s why He’s called the Comforter?)

The desire to escape from suffering is normal and in no way an indication of a lack of faith. Even Jesus prayed in the garden that if there were some other way than the cross, God would “let this cup pass” from Him. But sometimes, as difficult as it is to understand, suffering is part of God’s plan for our lives. It’s not His desire that we escape it but that we depend on Him, rest in Him, trust Him, and obey Him as He carries us through it. When we love our sisters in Christ, this is the truth we will impart to them, not the heal-all salve of improved life circumstances and feel good-ism the used car salesmen of evangelicalism are hawking.