The Greatest Lie
Words by Autumn Kern
It's a Tuesday afternoon. I find myself with a few spare minutes and unconsciously reach for my phone, open Instagram, and start scrolling. Within seconds I know that someone is in a foreign country again, while a fellow college alum has a new dream job, a stranger is exploring a cool coffee shop, and that Insta-mom received yet another box of perfectly curated mommy-and-me neutral toned outfits worth my monthly rent. I look up and squint around under the harsh fluorescent lighting and take a quick survey of my life: I'm in a Walmart, getting my oil changed. You have got to be kidding me, I think. God, why don't you give that to me?
We're not so unlike the people before us—even Adam and Eve. While it may be that the rhythms and demands of our present time are new, our hearts are the same. We chase things that cannot fulfill us, we trust in things untrue, and we seek to please our peers instead of God (Jer. 17:9; I John 2:15–17; Prov. 25:27; John 12:43). We are, simply put, human. And humans have always struggled to believe that God loves us.
The very first humans lived in the east of Eden, and sin had not yet entered the story. Adam and Eve knew no shame and lived in full, perfect vulnerability with God and one another (Gen. 2:25). Can you imagine the great beauty of their days? No struggling, no fear, no comparison, no want. They lived in the world exactly as God designed it. They never knew longing or ache or dissatisfaction. Adam and Eve walked among the creation called "good" (Gen. 1:25). And yet, the quiet whisper of a crafty serpent began to unravel quickly that which God had created. In a perfect world, the first seed of doubt was sown in the heart of Eve:
“’You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’” (Gen. 3:4b–5)
We know what happens after this: Eve saw that the fruit was a delight to the eye and wanted to be wise. Uncertainty welled up inside of her as she considered that perhaps she would not die as God had previously told them. Instead of believing that God's warning came from his loving protection and sovereignty, she listened to the deceptive tongue of Satan. This moment altered reality. It was the greatest lie ever told, and it ruined life in Eden with just a few words: God is withholding from you.
That same lie continued to spread from barren women and exiled people to jealous rulers and heartbroken disciples. Hopeless women prayed for babies, the Israelites demanded kings, rulers desired power, and disciples sought recognition. Now we're twenty-first century children living in a time when it's never been easier to see the lives of everyone we've ever known and everyone we've never known. With ease, we whip out a tiny screen from our pockets and lose ourselves in the perfect lives lined up for us to view in a nice, neat row. It's hard enough to trust God on our own, but what about when we see a constant highlight reel of others' lives? It creates a battle in our hearts to believe that God does not keep good things from us.
We're at what feels like the peak of human comparison for the simple reason that we're aware of everyone else's lives. Previously, you couldn't possibly know what nineteen friends, three bloggers, and eight peers from your elementary school ate for breakfast. But now, you just have to scroll. The danger is that we're not made to spend our time peeking into curated snippets of lives that are not our own. What else could it do but cause us to compare our current situations to the shared moments posted online and ask God, "Why not me?" Like Eve, we hear that deceptive voice offering the idea that maybe God is keeping something from us. The lie takes on a new expression as we scroll through Instagram and Facebook, adding, “Did he give it to them instead?"
Social media is a strong and present force in this moment of eternity. There's no ignoring it, and there's little chance of fully escaping it. It's comforting, however, to think that this is no surprise to God. This new tool in which we ask the same question as every generation before us does not take him aback. He's given us his Word, which declares who he is and holds the power to transform our hearts (Heb. 4:12). Praise be to God that we're never left alone in our battles of the heart! We can hear the tempting words of doubt, but we're able turn our minds to those things we know are true:
God is good and faithful, and his love endures forever. (Ps. 100:5)
God gave us his Son as a sacrifice for our sins so that we could be reconciled to him. If He gave us Jesus, will he not give us all things? (John 3:16; Rom. 8:32)
God is perfect in wisdom. His thoughts and ways are above ours, and they're always right. (Rom. 11:33; Is. 55:9)
God delights in us. He does not favor one child over another. (Ps. 147:11)
God cannot be unfaithful. (2 Tim. 2:13)
God works all things together for our good. No circumstance is unusable; no experience is wasted. (Rom. 8:28)
Sister, do not give way to the old lie. Do not let your social media feed rob you of joy. The way we use the Internet is new, but the issue of the heart is old. Not once has this lie been proven true, and it never will be. Believe that God is a good father who delights in you and gives only good gifts to his children. Cling to the hope of your future glory with Christ. Trust that despite what God is doing in others' lives, he is also faithful in your life. If God has given you Christ, there is nothing you need that he will withhold from you. So beloved child, rest in his love.