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Tragedy highlights the issues of spiritual schizophrenia

It delighted me to hear our president and law enforcement leaders encourage prayer in the face of terrorism and disasters like those in Boston and Texas this spring.

Citizens nationwide turned to God, acknowledging that he is our sure shelter in the face of evil and its wreckage. He alone is the God of all comfort, the father of mercy.

The Scripture invites us to run to God with our need: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear …,” Psalm 46:1-2.

I do wonder, though: Why do we only seem to seek God in times of trouble?

I know I’m not the only one struck by this spiritual schizophrenia; interest in God increases when a crisis surfaces, but seemingly ends when that crisis subsides.

I can’t rail against spiritual schizophrenia because it’d be hypocritical. I see that tendency in my own heart at times. I draw near to God when I need him most, but let the relationship languish at times when I think I can pretty much handle everything.

Do you struggle with this, too?

Please don’t be offended by my use of the word schizophrenia; I’m just trying to be precise. Schizophrenia is a debilitating mental disorder in which contradictory attitudes are held.

Is it not a profound contradiction to believe we need God when we’re overwhelmed with shock, grief and pain, yet order our lives as if God doesn’t really exist at all other times?

The trend is easier to spot at the national level: Americans pray most when we feel vulnerable, yet we’ve aggressively kicked God out of our schools, science labs, courts and social circles. At the same time, we wonder why our culture is losing its cohesiveness and moral certitude.

Rather than bemoan the national trend, I believe God would first have each of us examine our own hearts.

Turning to God in times of crisis is an appropriate act of dependence: We need from God what we cannot provide ourselves. But the truth of the matter is we are dependent upon God every moment of our lives, and he delights when we relate to him as such.

Every breath we breathe we owe to the common grace of God.

Every sunrise is owed to the creative power of God. God is the author of every good thing we enjoy yet take for granted.

The Bible says that God is pleased to give us the wisdom we lack, the direction we crave. He promises those who depend on him, and not themselves, the joy, peace and hope that we exhaust ourselves seeking in lesser things.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him! Fear the Lord, you His godly people, for those who fear Him will have all they need,” Psalm 34:8-9.

Did you notice the correlation between revering God and experiencing his goodness?

Psalm 145 puts it this way: “The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth … the Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.”

It’s thrilled me to see more of us turning to God in these recent times of urgency. I pray he will grant us grace to love him, revere him and depend on him even when we’re not in crisis.

Steve Massey is pastor of Hayden Bible Church ( He can be reached at (208) 772-2511 or