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Fear vs. Fantasy vs. Faith

Here we are. The midpoint of another week in the midst of this Coronavirus. We’ve heard more news. More stories of death and sickness. More stories of hope and perseverance.


Over the past few days, a verse that keeps coming to mind is 2 Chronicles 7:14.


Before we look at it, let’s consider the context.

God is talking to Solomon right after he (Solomon) finished building and dedicating the temple.


This wasn’t just any temple… this was the temple that David wanted to build but God said no. This is the temple that Solomon—David’s son—built. This is the temple that would finally be a place for God to dwell and people to worship and sacrifice… it was a big deal. When they dedicated the temple, the Bible tells us there were more animal sacrifices than could be counted! (5:6) People put their face to the pavement as they worshiped and bowed down to God. (7:3)


And God was pleased.


He responded to Solomon’s prayers, offerings, and songs of dedication and in His response, He said:

…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven

and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14


As we look at this verse, I want us to consider fear, fantasy, and faith.


The fear part comes in in the verse right before this as God talks about circumstances the people may encounter:

When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people…

2 Chronicles 7:13


We need to be cautious when drawing direct parallels between the Old Testament and today, buy one thing is certain: In verse 13, things wouldn’t be good. And, in our situation today, things aren’t good.


But the key here comes with our choice between fantasy or faith. I’m seeing a lot out there about being faithful instead of fearful—and that’s important! However, I believe we need the third “F”, fantasy, to keep our faith focused. It adds a bit of a guardrail to how we go through this situation.

Too many believers act as if God is merely fantasy.

In a fantasy, an all-powerful being is either really good or really bad depending on your point of view. If the being does what you want—it’s good. If the being doesn’t do what you want—it’s bad. When that’s our view of God, we struggle when bad things happen. We struggle when good things happen to others that don’t happen to us. We end up saying God is good or bad depending on our own perception and ideas.


Even if we don’t fall completely into the fantasy category, we sometimes drift toward fantasy in how we relate to Him. If God is going to be good or bad based on our ideas, then our minds are already made up on what God will or will not do. We may still say things like “God’s got this” or “He’s in charge” or “keep praying”… but at the core, we don’t believe that will change anything. We don’t understand God from a faith-based perspective. Ultimately, we think “he’s there, I’m here.” Separate. No connection.


In that scenario, we’re living based on fantasy, not faith.


When we focus on faith rather than fantasy, we recognize our part in the relationship.

Did you see that? Relationship.


There’s interplay.

Communication.

Relating to each other even though God is infiteinly greater, far and above us in every way.


Consider it this way:

When a farmer yokes a young ox with a mature ox, there’s a relationship. The young ox has plenty of opportunity to think what he wants and try to do things on his own, but the nature of the yoked relationship says the mature ox has ultimate authority because he’s bigger and better.


God is inviting the people into relationship… and He says the way it works best is to be humble and communicate. God said to these people, “humble yourselves and pray.” Look at the result of doing that:


if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time. And as for you, if you will walk before me as David your father walked, doing according to all that I have commanded you and keeping my statutes and my rules, then I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to rule Israel.’

2 Chronicles 7:14-18


Now imagine that ox again. Imagine he’s stubborn. Wants to do his own thing — he won’t enjoy the process because he’s always being pulled and tugged and yanked by the bigger, better, steady ox. That’s like verse 14 when it tells us to turn from our wicked ways… we acknowledge God’s perfect steadiness in the midst of our unsteadiness of character and morality. (We also recognize his steadiness when the world around us seems anything but steady!)


Look at what happened if they would not turn from their wicked ways:


“But if you turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will pluck you up from my land that I have given you, and this house that I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of my sight, and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And at this house, which was exalted, everyone passing by will be astonished and say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’ Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore he has brought all this disaster on them.’ ”

2 Chronicles 7:19-22


God truly is in control. If we come to Him humbly and pray and turn aside from our own sin, we’re going to enjoy His sovereign leading so. much. more.


Humility is interesting.

We can be humble as we turn from our wicked ways. We can also be humble as we choose faith rather than fear or fantasy. Humility may well be thought of in terms of putting down our predispositions—regardless of where they fall on the spectrum of reactions to the Coronavirus.


God absolutely knows what life will look like on the other side of this. But let’s agree together to humble ourselves and pray as we go through this experience with Him leading.

Take a moment—whether 5 seconds, 5 minutes, or more… and talk to God. Tell Him how you’re feeling. Tell Him your worries. Tell Him what you’re thankful for in the midst of all this. Tell Him you trust him to lead you, your family, our church, our nation, and our world through this time.


Humble yourself and pray.


…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven

and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14

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