“I’m sure no one has ever told you this.”

“It’s so bad. You are going to think terrible things about me.”

“Everyone would hate me if they knew what I was thinking.”

“There is no one who loves me for me.”

I’ve heard each of these helpless words from people who sat in my office. They are raw, vulnerable, heartbreaking. They reveal people’s crippling loneliness and fears that they are destined to remain alone.

I’ve been there. Discouragement spiraled into depression, and I multiplied my angst by entangling myself in sin. I didn’t think anyone would understand. I was too afraid to ask for help. Lies compounded sin.

Satan Lies

Satan traffics in lies. He wants you to believe that God isn’t good, that you are alone, and that your shame can never be removed. Each is a profound deception. In 1 Peter 5:8, we are reminded: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Don’t be deceived, Peter says; you have to fight to stay out of the enemy’s jaws. There is one who intends to destroy you.

How can we fight the enemy’s lies? It’s no accident that Peter’s admonition to be on guard against Satan comes after his encouragement for elders to shepherd the flock, and his subsequent call to humility. For Peter knows that a humble and unified flock is a powerful force against Satan’s wiles: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:6–7).

A humble and unified flock is a powerful force against Satan’s wiles.

Isn’t that peculiar advice? What’s the connection between Satan’s attacks, humbling ourselves, and casting our anxieties on God? Peter puts his finger on a particular vulnerability Satan goes after: our anxieties, which drive us from God and community and toward ourselves.

When we deal with our stress and fear through pride, Satan is at our heels.

When we’re anxious, it doesn’t feel like our biggest temptation is to be proud. We feel laid low. And yet do you see how anxious remarks can be subtle forms of pride? Take this one: “There is no one who loves me for me.” Is anyone omniscient? Do you see the judgment in the statement? The speaker stands over those who attempt to love him and declares their compassion lacking.

By believing no one else is able to understand or help in our struggles, we arrogate to ourselves a superhero status. We respond to overwhelming anxieties with the foolish belief that if we just buckle down—or just try this one other thing—we will be able to solve our problem. They can’t possibly help.

Don’t Fight Alone

When we become curved in on ourselves, we play right into the Devil’s hand. His tactics are simple: separate the struggling from the flock by enticing them to respond to sin and anxiety alone, with pride, not with Christ and community.

When I was a boy, I loved playing basketball. I had a knack for rebounding and wasn’t the worst shot, but my ball-handling skills were lacking. I dreaded playing teams that would defend us with a full-court press. The coach would shift me to the backcourt to help us break the press. When the defense collapses on you, the universal temptation is to stop dribbling and pull the ball into your stomach to protect it. It’s the worst thing you can do. Dribble out of the trap, or better yet, pass out of it. Whatever you do, don’t drop your head and clutch the ball for dear life.

So it is when anxiety strikes. We can be tempted to withdraw and isolate as we try to work our way out of our mess.

Are you anxious today? Lift your head. First look to God, and then look to his family.

Are you anxious today? Lift your head. First look to God, and then look to his family.

The power of the belief that we’re alone traps us in shame. It sucks us into the belief that we can get ourselves out of our messes.

Break the cycle. Cry out to God. Call your pastor. Connect with a trusted Christian friend. Contact a counselor. You are never alone.