It is the week of the Thanksgiving holiday. I have been thinking about the nature of thankfulness. I recently heard someone recounting God's goodness in their life. They have had some struggles that I have not had. I began to tear up as I listened to them lean on Christ in their story. Then they stopped and said, "I don't know how people go through such things without Jesus."
This is a profound statement of wonder. I've said it. You have probably said it. In pastoral ministry I have had to make many hospital visits, some to Children's Hospital. I've seen people go through some horrible things with their children. Many do call out to God during these difficult times. But most people are not in right relationship with God. So most people going through tragedy are not in right relationship with God. I have often asked, "How do these people go through this awful experience without Jesus?"
There are a couple of answers. The first answer that comes to my mind is, "Not very well." The fact is, some of these families don't actually make it. The worst situations often take a great toll. Some marriages do not survive crisis. Some people go into depression. Others into addiction. And some even take their own lives... or worse, they become violent towards others. Bad situations experienced without Christ are a perfect storm for emotional, relational, and physical disaster.
Yet there are many who do make it through. I don't know that anyone makes it through the worst of times unhurt. But many do survive them, even without a good relationship with Jesus. This is because God created us with resilience. While God designed us to live forever in a holy state, He knew we would rebel and be affected by sin and brokenness. He knew we would face things that were too much to handle on our own. He wanted us to call out and reach out for Him to save us from our destruction. The only way for us to survive long enough under the crushing weight of sin and death was for us to have a supernatural resilience. While there are some spiritual elements that only Christians possess, God has offered a measure of grace, mercy, hope, faith, love, joy, etc. to everyone. It is a taste of what can be. This is enough to help most people make it through the worst in hopes that they will arrive at the best.
In fact, it is this measure of spiritual help given to everyone that enables us to come into proper relationship with God. Think of it as 'common grace'. Everyone has some. It is how a world full of sinners doesn't just entirely self-destruct and kill each other in one generation. While everyone is not righteous-good, most people, even those who aren't Christians, are decent-good. You don't have to be a Christian to stop and help an elderly lady change her flat tire in the rain. Then there is the grace that goes before saving grace. It is a part of saving grace, but it reaches into a person before they surrender to Christ. It is a supernatural reaching of God that sustains them in difficulty and points them to Christ... their only hope. This is called 'prevenient grace.' It is God's way of helping truly helpless people find help.
Obviously being right with Christ is a great help in surviving and thriving through problems. It is a game-changer. But it is not a guarantee. There are plenty of Christians who let go of God in the hardest of times. This is a sad truth, but very real. However, it is always better to willingly be in the center of God's hand when going through life's storms. It is great that we can find Christ in the storm, but it is more wonderful when we can rest in His hand through the storms.
This understanding that we can go through things with God or without Him is one of the basic truths of life. The apostle Paul wrote this to the early Christians...
At that time you were without the Messiah, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah. (Ephesians 2:12-13)
You may survive the hardest things of life without Christ. But you will never enter into eternity without Him. Those who have come to know Him would testify that not only is eternity better with Christ, but even the temporal is more bearable with Him. For while each human has a measure of peace, hope, faith, etc. for going through difficulties, the Christian has these elements in unlimited supply through Jesus Christ. So maybe the question is not, "How do people make it through this broken life without Jesus?", but rather, "Why would people try to make it through this broken life without Jesus?"
Today, trust in Christ, no matter your storm. And reach out to share your hope and faith with someone who may only have a little bit. God wants them to have an unlimited supply. He doesn't want them to be crushed by the worst of life. He wants them to have life, and have it in abundance.
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My name is David, and I want to know God more, and help other people find Him.