Where do people get the idea that life owes them? How can they think God will give them anything they want? I’m not just talking about children and teenagers. Plenty of middle-aged and even some retired persons have this attitude. Maybe their parents spoiled them. Perhaps they have watched too many movies with a fairy tale ending. Whatever the reason, they didn’t get this thinking from life because experience slaps us in the face with harsh realities, disappointments, and cold hard facts.
We talk about “living the dream.” I understand what most people mean by this. We do have it good. Very good. But people take this too far when they imagine that life is one big chocolate factory that constantly fills their hands with candy. And yet that is how many Americans think. Just dream about it and it will come true.
There are ministers who preach this illusion. They promise people their dreams – the ideal job, wealth, a fantastic marriage and kids that are loving and successful, good health, and of course a permanent smile. “God wants you to be happy” they preach, and they are right. God does want us to be happy. But he never said we will be happy all the time. “But God is a generous Father who wants your dreams to come true.” And where is that in the Bible? The truth is that the American public is for the most part selfish. These preachers know this. That is why they tell these dreamers they can have anything they want. They portray God as a glorified Santa Claus. They take verses of the Bible out of context and ignore passages that mention adversity. And thousands come to hear them and read their books.
There are a lot of grown ups who have never grown up. They live in a dream world and think God put them there.
Life is hard. Sometimes it is very hard. It can be so hard that you don’t think you can stand anymore. We experience life’s troubles in different ways but we all have problems. The Bible says, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). Jesus told His disciples, “In the world ye shall have tribulation” (John 16:33). Life is a mixture of joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, laughter and tears. You never know which will be next. There is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh” (Ecc. 3:4). So, Solomon says, “In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him” (Ecc. 7:14). Make your plans but remember that they may not happen. “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. (Prov. 27:1). Instead of talking like you control the future, sprinkle the words “if the Lord will” on your goals (James 4:15).
It is never good for a person to have most much less all of what he wants. Solomon indulged himself and was miserable (Ecc. 2:1-11).
Heartache and pain are good for us if we humble ourselves before God. Hardships, not dreams, produce patience and character (Rom. 5:4). After they’re over we can be glad we experienced them (Psa. 119:71; Heb. 12:11).
People who live in a fantasy world end up disillusioned and can become bitter. There are many who thought they would make it big in business, sports, politics, or entertainment and become angry, sour people when their plans fail. There are husbands, wives, parents, and preachers who get burned and are hard to be around because their relationships or work was not the success they envisioned. They set themselves up for disappointment because they think if they dream it they will have it.
Ahab wanted a piece of land. Since he was king he could have paid a handsome price for it. But Naboth who owned the property wouldn’t sell. How did the king handle this rejection? He “laid him down up on his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread” (I Kings 21:4). He pouted! A selfish person with shattered dreams is one of the most unbearable individuals on earth.
We can never be sure about what will happen next in this life. We can know, however, that judgment and eternity are ahead, and if we are Christians heaven will be our home. That hope is not an empty dream. It is a promise from God (I Pet. 1:4).