On a brisk, snowy and painfully cold morning, I walk to the subway. I get on the train only to be way too close to those who are also trying to get somewhere on a Monday morning. And then I look up. The ad on the train pictures sand, a nice chair and some waves crashing. “This could be your seat today,” it boasts. Ten minutes later I walk up the dirty steps to be slapped in the face with that biting wind and wet snow. My heart drifts. It fantasizes about warm sand and fruity drinks.
What would it be like to not have to work? To not have those kids slow me down and to have finances flowing enough to have that sand in between my toes?
For my friend Sara (not really her name), it’s something different. She likes to envision what it could be like to meet her husband. How they will be sexually attracted to one another and how their relationship will be electric. She lets her mind drift to a place where things get steamy and it’s okay because, by this time in her pornographic daydream, they’re married.
For another friend, she likes to imagine what her loved ones are doing in heaven. In her scenario, they are all hanging out together, having a meal and playing cards. They’re laughing and talking about the "good old days." They’re all very happy. The scenario feeds her false comfort until reality breaks through and the real baby wakes up from the nap.
In Philippians 4, God tells us to pray when we are in need, showing that we need to engage in relationship with Him so that we may trust Him. He follows up this command to not be anxious and to pray with describing the peace that will be the result of such engagement with Him. He then tells us that after prayer, there are certain things we should spend our time thinking about . . .
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9
Paul was not simply streaming a bunch of positive adjectives together. He is describing Jesus! The Spirit of God knows the only way to find true peace and hope for anxious thoughts is to rely on what is absolutely certain and true, and that is Jesus. Paul then continues to say that this peace should infiltrate our daily lives. This peace is going to make us feel better, but really it is going to change how we think and therefore what we do. It is not only that the peace of God is available, but also the very God of peace Himself is available to be with us.
The inclination to create realities in which we are best served and most comfortable is a pervasive sin pattern we all share. But it stops us from getting to real hope that is offered because we settle for the cheap comfort of our own saccharine imaginings. When we daydream about something that is not reality, we want a very particular scenario to happen other than the one we have. We desire a specific kind of internal feeling that is escaping us. When comfort seems to elude us in real life, we can be tempted to spend time inside our own heads fantasizing about what it would then be like to have it. We experience a brief moment of self-pleasure as we imagine ourselves with the coveted thing—a child, a job, fame, attention, or sexual fulfillment.
The problem with pursuing a reality that God hasn’t allowed or promised is that it’s based entirely on deception and pride. This deception becomes the false reality we dwell upon and therefore, develop affections for. Our pride tells us our imagining is better than what Jesus has to offer; an imagining that is therefore the opposite of “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable.” This is idolatry as we substitute ourselves for the Creator and seek to build a self-serving kingdom that provides what we want when we want it. Heartbreakingly, the daydreamer is set up for failure and misery when he or she dwells on desired lusts rather than the good and true realities of our Creator.
For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness. Rather, fear God. Ecclesiastes 5:7
Daydreaming is not where true comfort lies. True comfort does not lie in what our flesh would deem comfortable; true comfort lies in the certainty of absolute truth. We cannot find true comfort by seeking what satisfies our flesh; we can only find true comfort by seeking to know our marvelous God.
Rebekah Hannah is a biblical counselor at The Grace Center for Biblical Counseling in Jacksonville, Florida. She is married to Andrew and has three daughters.