“What a blessed truth to understand that, in the midst of all our difficulties and calamities, we have a refuge.”
— A.W. Tozer (1897–1963)
It’s a very common thing for Christians to wonder how non-Christians—or those without ‘faith’—endure the bad things that happen to them in life. Of course, it’s a tragic irony that many Christians don’t endure the way they might initially boast. The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. None of us are immune to backsliding into an abyss.
But it is a reasonable question: how do we live without God?
Many are the self-sufficient (including Christians, for that matter) who rely on nothing but themselves and on many varieties of situational gods. Our flesh submits that self-sufficiency will be a constant threat that hangs over all our lives. It’s not just a phenomenon of theology; it’s a fact of reality. We cannot help but fall short.
The more we look at it, the more we realise—as both Christians and non-Christians—we are all in the same boat. It’s a boat that sails without direction, hope or purpose. The only real rudder or sail to catch the breeze is the Spirit of God as we listen, comprehend, commit, and obey.
So, for everyone there is a choice: to endure by fighting the good fight of the faith—which is, paradoxically, no fight at all, but a replete surrender—or rely on our own steam; on the endless wind that comes from the pockets of foolish energies devoid of God.
When Our Worlds Come Crashing down
Most people survive very well without God—or they think they do—until their world comes crashing down. That’s when God is really needed. And that’s when true knowledge of God is both made known and potentially assimilated.
But we run afoul if we treat God as, “In emergency, break glass to access God.”
It might be fine to react to the shock of a dramatic life struggle by clawing for God, but it is not fine to ‘utilise’ God in the depths of despair and then to move on beyond God when things get better.
God cannot be ‘transcended’.
We need God not only for those desperate times, but also for steadier growth in the good times, as we allow the Spirit to mature us in the normal rub of life. For this normal life we were saved; to make our contribution in honouring God.
To have established a relationship with God is the right step in organising ourselves access to a faith that works—most especially when the going gets tough.
Without God we struggle on our own and do a pretty poor job of it. At least with God on our side we have the resources and the direction to deal with our trials. God reminds us in our difficulties that we don’t need to be strong, just strong enough to call on him—our Refuge.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.