Why We Should Be Thankful When God Says No
Therefore God gave them upon the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (Romans 1:24-25)
We are efficient idol factories. We craft all sorts of things that distract us from our relationship with the Lord, and we pursue them to our detriment. Some of them are overtly dark, like porn and greed, while others are seemingly innocent, like a love of your children or a fun hobby.
What happens when we pursue idols is that we invite the enemy into our camp.
In Greek mythology, there is a story that is told about the Trojan War. The Greeks were after the independent city of Troy and they came up with a sneaky scheme to infiltrate Troy. The Greeks built a giant wooden horse, and hid men inside. Then the Greek forces retreated, making it appear that they had left. The Trojans then pulled the horse into their city and thus helped the invaders.
This should sound familiar.
Our Deadly Desires
We have no idea what's actually good for us. We assume that childish things like money and status and pleasure will make us happy. Now we know that they really don't, as if you've had any measure of money or status or pleasure (and we all have had some measure of these things), you know the high is short-lived. But still we sort through the garbage heap of false gods to find the ones we like.
I am here to tell you that you probably shouldn't chase your dream. You should test your dream. You should question yourself and instead of making life all about getting yourself that thing you've always wanted, you should - if you care about yourself - put your dream on trial.
Our desires are often misplaced and will lead us into destruction. Our desires will often cause us to trample other people. And our desires will sometimes lead us straight to hell.
The Hells We Make
The reason our idols - these little false gods we chase - are so dangerous is because they actually lead to hell on earth. Hell is not a penalty box for doing sinful stuff, hell is a place devoid of God. And thus our little worlds we create where we reign or where our idols reign are little hells.
Some of us want that. Some of us want a world where God is not king over our lives and where we make our own decisions, thank you very much. We want to be the authority over our entire reality and we think we know what's best for us.
That may work for a little while, but it won't work forever. At some point in our lives, if we have built our lives into a hell on earth, we will get burned. Our idols will not be there for us when it all comes crashing down because they are figments of our imagination - unlike our Heavenly Father, who is the one who created our imagination.
We will all create idols in our lives, believers or not. Even those of us who are busy killing our idols, we will still play the whack-a-mole game with ourselves as we try to keep our priorities straight.
The solution here is not to stifle our desires but to reorient them to the higher desires. If we desire money, we actually desire the safety and joy found in God's presence. If we desire sex, we actually desire intimacy and oneness. If we desire power, we may desire to live within the power of God's presence. While it is possible that our desires are completely sinful, and often they are, sometimes our desires are bastardized versions of what is offered by a nearness to God.
When God says no to your desires, understand that's a good sign. You see, it is not a good thing when he gives us over to our misplaced desires, as these desires often lead to hell. When God says no, it means he is redirecting us toward himself. Which is to say, he is redirecting us toward the heaven of being nearer to him.