The simple difference between fantasy and reality is one is imagined and the other is life. If we’re not careful we can get the two confused. Fantasy is where we imagine what we want to be true. It’s the realm of wishing and hoping and dreaming and sometimes even praying. Reality is the genuine experience.
Sometimes we place God within the fantasy section of our minds. We see Him as the fulfiller of our wants. That it’s His job to make us happy and content. Which stands to reason, anything that happens to us we don’t want, or if what we do want doesn’t happen, God has failed us. Therefore, giving us the right to be angry with Him.
In the past few weeks, I’ve heard three people say they are angry with God. One, was a lady with multiple problems under hospice care. Another was a man dying from cancer, who said if God walked into the room, he’d slap Him in the face. The other was in a movie. Two characters were burying a young man who was gentle and kind but savagely killed. One said, “I guess we should say some words.” The other said, “I don’t think God wants to hear what I’d say to Him. It wouldn’t be very respectful.”
Where does anger like that come from? In grief, it is a natural step in the healing process. But generally, that anger is at the one who died, or we’re angry at what we’ve loss. Some get hung up there and never move on. But if we stay angry and that anger turns into bitterness against God, we’ve turned away from our only hope.
We become angry because God didn’t do what we wanted, and instead has let something happen to us we don’t want.
· So, the God who created life has no right to decide when that life is over?
· So, the God who formed the body has no right to allow infirmity to attack us?
· So, the God who allowed evil into the world has no right to let that evil test, tempt or torment us?
Rev 4:11 Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they exist, and were created.
That’s reality not fantasy. God created all that exists for His purpose.
How else would Paul have learned God’s Grace was sufficient without a thorn in his flesh he didn’t want? How else could God have gotten my attention to turn my life toward Him without a car wreck that nearly cost me my life? We can’t let our pain blind us to the hope of goodness of God in the land of the living.
If we don’t understand that, when something happens to cause our world to collapse, when what we’ve built of our lives suddenly washes away, when someone or something comes along and pushes us off the wall, will we find hope or turn our disappointment into anger against God?
Humpty Dumpty – sat, had
Jesus pulled all those questions together in a parable about two men who build houses on different foundations: Matt 7:24 Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26 Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall."
The point is the choice between fantasy and reality. A firm foundation vs. sandy soil. The foundation is the basis of the stability of the house. The house represents our lives. We can build our lives on false hopes and imaginations or on reality. Jesus tells us which is best. The reality of His words – the truths God has promised for His children, or the false hopes in a world that only disappoints.
From the plans He has made for us, to His intentions of accomplishing what concerns us, to the necessity of Him working all things together for good. So that, in all of life, I know He is good and what He is doing has greater purpose than what my disappointment can ever understand.
We’re wired from birth to build our lives upon the goal of becoming productive members of society.
· Produce an income: Work – we spend the early years trying to determine what we want to do for an occupation. We hope to be able to find a job where we get to do what we love. When that doesn’t work out, we simply look for opportunity and money. Did you know there are artists working as waiters? Coaches working as electricians? Teachers working as janitors? Why? Gotta produce a living.
· Produce a family: Marriage – children. It’s the natural flow of life. Re-production.
· Produce some level of enjoyment: hobbies, habits, entertainment to add some self-satisfying experiences that bring pleasure to our lives.
· Ultimately we want to be able to rest each night satisfied with our day, our accomplishments, our life. We want to be happy and fulfilled.
But if production is what determines fulfillment, what if something happens and we’re no longer able to produce? Or, what if those goals don’t make us happy?
· We lose our job. We’re downsized or retire. If we have built our lives on a foundation of work and that’s taken away, how do we make up for that loss?
o When my dad retired, he no longer had a business to run, so he decided he’d run the house. That was until my mom let him know, while holding a butcher knife, that wasn’t the way things were going to happen.
· What if we don’t have a job we love? Instead of producing happiness, we’re frustrated. Instead of valuable, we feel worthless. Instead of fulfilled, we feel empty.
· What if our spouse dies or divorces us? The one has been a necessary part of making our life complete is gone. How do we fill this hole in our heart? How do we heal this hurt?
· Or our children reject us? Maybe its not deliberate but perhaps their own lives have gotten so busy with being productive that they no longer have room for us within their busy schedules.
· What if we can’t find anything to do that brings us pleasure?
· What if we simply have become dissatisfied with life?
o One of the symptoms of Covid is losing the sense of taste and smell. The pleasure of eating is gone because we can’t taste what we always enjoyed.
· What if something knocks us off the wall and we are now damaged – unable to physically or emotionally look forward to tomorrow? And we’re so disappointed that we’re now angry.
It means we have built our lives on the wrong foundation. A foundation is to be immovable, unchangeable, reliable. So that if everything gets scraped off, it’s still there. Did you realize that sometimes we never even notice the foundation until everything gets scrapped off?
It’s then we see the hands of our God holding us, who says, “Beyond Me you cannot fall.”
Circus trapeze artists can fly with reckless abandon because of the assurance the safety net will catch them. If something happens there is a net beyond which they will not fall.
So for us: Ps 46:2 We will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake...
Everyone struggles when what made their life good is taken away. The difference is the foundation. What is there to catch them? Jesus said, My word – the truths God has promised for His children. There for when the rains fall, and the floods come, and the winds blow and slam against that house; it will not fall, for it is founded on the rock.
Like David writing: Ps 37:25 I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread. That: 24 When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the LORD is the One who holds his hand.
That’s Jesus’ promise. Underneath us is always the hand of our God and into those hands we place our lives.
When we understand that, we’re disappointed that what we want doesn’t happen and what we don’t want does happen, we don’t collapse into a ball of anger, blaming God for failing us.
Ps 39:4 LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. 5 You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.” 6 We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it. 7 And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.
Unless we begin there – understanding that upon that foundation we place our hope in the Lord – we will build our lives with counterfeit, inferior materials that will wash away and leave us overwhelmed and empty as we wander and wonder why God let us down. Our hope is that in whatever happens, we will see the greatness of God in our behalf.
Ps 9:10 But those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.
Ps 31:14 But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD, I say, "You are my God."
Ps 84:5 How blessed is the man whose strength is in You…
Ps 84:12 O LORD of hosts, How blessed is the man who trusts in You!
Ps 143:8 Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; For I trust in You; teach me the way in which I should walk; for to You I lift up my soul.
I went with a group of men to Promise Keepers years ago. I’d been a pastor but had just taken a detour within God’s plan for my life to leave one denomination to become part of a non-denominational one. It was a good plan, but because of that detour I lost the title pastor. During one session, the speaker called for the pastors to come forward for prayer. I stood there. An emptiness came over me. That was my identity for years. Now it wasn’t. Then the men around me physically pushed me out into the aisle. Though I didn’t see myself like that any longer, they did. God hadn’t removed that calling because of the detour. Why? His purpose was still on my life. It never changed though the circumstances did.
Rom 11:29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
The storms can’t take that away. Rom 8:38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
How could Paul say that? He’d been there. Everything he built his life on that had been so important was taken away. All he was left with was the love of a God who held him in His hands.
Isa 49:16 Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.
John 10:28 I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.
If our life is built on fantasy that nothing bad should ever happen, nobody we love should die, only happiness and joy should follow us all the days of our life and that God exists to make our dreams come true, we will be greatly disappointed. We may even get angry.
The reality is, when we entrust our lives to Him, He holds us securely so that whatever we face, it will never wash away the foundation of our hope established built upon the promises in His word or separate us from the One who gives us beauty for ashes, comfort for our grief, who lifts us up when we fall and gives us peace.
- God isn’t saving us to collect people for Heaven.
- God saves us to fulfill His purposes in our lives.
- If we choose anything instead of Him as a source we think will produce a full and satisfied life, we will have reduced Him to a mere convenience and not the Lord in whom we trust.
- Because He is the foundation supporting our lives, we can live with hope that whatever comes, whatever goes, we will not be washed away.