When You’re in Distress, Ask Yourself This Question

A young child flees down the hallway to her room. She slams the door, throws herself on her bed, and screams through a deluge of tears, “I’m all alone! No one cares about me! I wish I was never born!”

Like many adoptive parents, this is the scenario friends of mine often faced after taking their then foster, now adopted, daughter into their home. As my friend recalled the intensity of those first trying months, I couldn’t help but ask how she handled those times.

“What did you do? That must have been so hard,” I questioned. 

“It was hard, but we did the only thing we could do,” my friend replied. “We fought the lies with the truth. After she calmed, we would sit with her and rehearse all the things that were true right now. And eventually, the truth felt stronger than the lies.”

Wow, I thought. That just might be the best parenting advice I’ve ever heard. Actually, that just might be the best life advice I’ve ever heard. How many of us need to stop and rehearse what is true right now? How many of us need to overcome potent lies with truth? Knowing how good the devil is at his job, I’m guessing the answer is most of us.

Truth Is a Life Preserver 

Since that conversation, I’ve asked myself that same question on several occasions: Stacey, what is true right now? And every time I’ve employed this tactic, the result is equivalent to being thrown a life preserver in a sea of drowning thoughts. My struggles don’t go away. Sadness, anxiety, or anger may still seek to pull me under, but truth is always buoyant.

So what is true right now, you ask?

God loves me. Therefore . . . 

  • I am not stupid—I have the mind of Christ. 
  • I am not rejected—I am a child of God. 
  • I am not a failure—I am a new creation in Jesus Christ. 

It doesn’t matter what the situation is. God’s Word is true no matter the severity of the storm. This is why the apostle Paul says in Philippians 4:8, “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true . . . dwell on these things.” Fix your eyes on Jesus because He is the truth. And when your eyes grow tired and your vision blurs, wrap your spiritual arms around the Savior’s neck and cling to Him like a terrified toddler who doesn’t want to be dropped off at the church nursery.

Whatever you do, don’t let go of truth.

If your marriage feels more like a landmine than a bed of roses, if you’re traversing uncharted territory, if the doctor gives you bad news, if your child is strong-willed, if your adult children are breaking your heart, if your church is healing, if you’re enduring a season of suffering, if you just don’t know which decision to make, if you’re exhausted from present circumstances—there is buoyant truth in the Scriptures ready and waiting to keep you afloat.

You simply need to grab hold.

Truth Is Present Even in the Unknown

Most of the time, we have no idea how circumstances are going to play out. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not too fond of the unknown. I’d rather know what’s coming so I can plan for it. However, even amid life’s uncertainties, there are things I can know.

  • I know God is good and kind and loving and faithful. 
  • I know God is sovereign and trustworthy. 
  • I know nothing happens that is not under His watchful eye. 
  • I know God makes good plans and sees them through, and within that knowledge, I know God’s plan is what’s best for me.

And, I can walk forward in faith through the unknown because of what is true right now. 

  • Even if I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, it’s still true that God is for me. 
  • Even if I feel weak, it’s still true that God is my strength. 
  • Even if I don’t think I can love anymore, it’s still true that I can love through Christ. 
  • Even if life is falling apart, it’s still true that God is in control. 
  • Even if I have nothing, it’s still true that I have all I need in Christ. 
  • Even if I have a bad day, it’s still true that God is good.

We fight the lies by rehearsing the truth until the truth is stronger than the lies. It’s so easy to get swept away in all the things that aren’t true. But when we take the time to stop and rehearse what’s still true right now based on God’s Word, we give ourselves an anchor even when we aren’t sure how the story is going to end.

The Enemy Hates Everything True 

Do you know what the devil wants to do more than anything else? Deceive you. His number one priority is to skew your thinking. He started with Eve, and he’s been doing it ever since. The devil doesn’t want us rehearsing what’s true; the devil wants us rehearsing everything that’s not true. He’d love nothing more than for all of us to be that broken little girl sobbing on her bed, telling herself that she is all alone and no one loves her.

Beloved of God, this is why we take every thought captive and fight the lies with the truth. My friends could have gotten mad at their daughter for her continuous tantrums. They could have taken the easy route and told her to pull it together, but they saw through the screaming for what it was—a vicious web of lies they needed to help her untangle.

It takes effort to fight lies with the truth. First of all, we need to know what’s true. Second, we need to train ourselves to recognize the lies. And third, we need to take the time to speak what’s true over and above the lies, calling out deception when we see it and thereby teaching our kids to recognize it. 

There’s a reason it’s called deception—it’s hard for us to see it on our own. Most of us have no idea when we walk through a door of falsehood because the web of deception is deliriously compelling, and we’re too overwhelmed or too busy or too proud to inspect each declaration under the microscope of God’s Word. But when we know something is a lie, we have a fighting chance at evading the devil’s schemes.

Set Your Mind on All That’s True 

Dwelling on what’s true instead of ruminating on what could be or should be or might be allows our feet to find solid ground once again. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep the mind that is dependent on you in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you.” A peace-filled mind is not an impossible achievement. It’s the result of rehearsing all the things that are still true of God right now, no matter how crazy life is.

Every time we consciously set our minds on things that are above instead of earthly things (Col. 3:2), we invite God into the situation. And when we invite God, we invite truth. And when we invite truth, we invite trust. And when we invite trust, we invite faith. And when we invite faith, we invite surrender. And when we invite surrender, we find peace.

Precious sister, we walk in faith when we tether ourselves to what is still true of God right now. You may not feel like worshiping God in your current situation. You may not even feel like getting out of bed, but if you can dwell on what is still true, you’ll find a reason to hope again, along with ample reasons to worship the Lord.

Start by memorizing one verse. You don’t have to recite a lengthy dialog to fight the lies with truth. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 107:1, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” Each time I recite that verse, I’m reminding myself that God is still good and loving and faithful, even if my current situation doesn’t reflect it. I put an immediate stop to any temptation to think otherwise, and I grab hold of my life preserver before any countering thoughts can pull me under.

Don’t wait until Sunday to rehearse the eternal truths found in God’s Word. Think about them today. Think about them right now, and eventually, you’ll hear the truth louder than the lies.

About the Author

Stacey Salsbery

Stacey Salsbery

Stacey Salsbery is a farmer’s wife and mother of four—or as she likes to say, “President of Home Operations.” Stacey loves teaching women the Bible and along with her family makes her home in the cornfields of Indiana. For more, … read more …

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