No, God doesn't want you to be miserable. But that's not obvious to everyone. The modern world wants us to be a nervous wreck all day every day. But that's the world talking—not the God who created you and loves you. The world tells us lies like:
The modern world is obsessed with "gotcha" moments. Video feeds are filled people being shamed, humiliated, "owned," or put on blast. It's considered entertaining to see someone being "wrecked" or "destroyed." Plus, the threats are permanent: say or do the wrong thing, even by accident, and now you're on the wrong end of some hashtag. Even when people try to do the right thing, others will find a way to pick it apart. All that makes us feel scared, nervous, and incredibly alone.
The world that is telling those lies is broken, twisted, and hurting. Those attitudes aren't from God—but from His enemies. If God wanted to play "gotcha" with us, He'd never have sent Jesus into the world! The whole point of the Gospel is that God knows we make mistakes, AND He wants to forgive us. Yes, He wants us to make good choices, but He also understands that we WILL make mistakes.
Three points in the Bible really help to push back against the world's lies. John 10:10 says that God wants us to have full, meaningful lives. 1 Timothy 4:4 teaches us that everything God created has a good purpose. Hebrews 4:15-16 tells that Jesus knows exactly what it's like to be human, so we can go to Him without fear.
The gospel tells us His forgiveness covers all our sins—past, present, and future, small and large. Once we're saved, we can be thankful for what He gives us and release our fear of what might happen.
It's OK for us to be mindful about what we say, think, and do. The Christian life isn't supposed to be like closing your eyes and walking across a busy road at night. But it's not supposed to be like hiding at home and never leaving—just in case we might take a wrong turn here or there. Fears and questions are part of life, but that doesn't mean we have to be afraid and unsure all the time. God wants us to rely on Him with trust, knowing He's got our back when we trip up. We should want to do the right thing but also know that if we make a mistake, God has no problem forgiving us (Matthew 18:21-22).
A great way to replace anxiety is with thankfulness. Hopefully that doesn't sound cheesy or silly, because it really does work! Instead of saying, "What if this is not the exact decision God wanted me to make?" we can confidently pray, "Lord, thank you for being so kind to me. Help me know if you want me to change from this path so I can hear you" (Hebrews 4:16).
Rather than worrying, "What if I get involved in [that sin] someday," we can say, "Lord, thank you for protecting me from [that sin] so far. Please keep me safe, and show me how to help people who struggle with it" (Luke 11:4).
We don't need to think, "What if I sin too much? Will that mean God will leave me? That He isn't really with me?" Instead, we can pray, "Lord, thank you for promising to forgive me when I confess my sins. Please help me follow you in everything" (1 John 1:8-9).
We don't need to panic by thinking, "I like this [hobby or interest], so that means I'm honoring myself and not God—I should stop!" The better way to think is, "Lord, thanks for putting this [hobby or interest] in my life! Please show me how to honor you with it. Make it clear to me if you'd rather I spend my time on something else" (1 Timothy 4:4).
It's inevitable that we will eventually make bad choices, but that's why God wants us to turn towards Him rather than hiding from Him (Matthew 6:34). You can't screw up badly enough for God to stop loving you (John 10:28). And you can't make any mistake He didn't already see coming. He "gets" you—better than you "get" yourself (Romans 8:26; Jeremiah 1:5).
Today, embrace the truth that "God does not want me to be miserable." God gave us many good things in this world (1 Timothy 4:4; James 1:17) and wants what's best for us (Romans 8:28). He might ask us to do hard things or make tough choices, but we should always lean on Him as our safe place (1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Timothy 1:7).
God doesn't want you to be miserable. He doesn't do "cancel culture." Jesus is not playing a "gotcha" game with salvation. He understands what it means to be a human being living in this imperfect world (Hebrews 4:15-16). He's not lurking in the shadows to punish us for our sincere mistakes. We are allowed to explore, enjoy, think, learn, and even make mistakes along the way. God gave us many good things in this world (1 Timothy 4:4; James 1:17) and wants what's best for us (Romans 8:28). We should be more thankful for His creation and for His forgiveness than we are paranoid about His anger. He wants us to "live abundant lives" (John 10:10)—not merely "survive" a miserable lifespan.
Jeff is a staff writer with Got Questions Ministries and used to be a mechanical engineer. When he's not accidentally setting things on fire in his workshop, or petting strange dogs, he loves helping people better understand God’s Word and how it applies to our lives. Jeff's calling is to untangle the "big picture" of Christian faith, making it easier to understand.