Lord, to whom shall we go? (John 6:68)

AT SOME POINT for most of us, life throws deep hardship our way. It may be the loss of a loved one, the end of a marriage, a medical diagnosis, or some other soul-pressing circumstance. Each of us has an inborn fight-or-flight response. Sometimes, we feel it spiritually too. Many people, when faced with painful circumstances, flee from God. They just want to run and hide somewhere.

Jesus’ teaching in John 6 had been difficult to take. He’d been asked some tough questions. But His answers surprised many of His followers. He appeared far from the caring and welcoming teacher they had probably come to expect. He knew the realities His followers would face and was honest about them. He’d be there, but they’d have to be prepared. Many potential followers turned and left.

Perhaps it’s natural to want to flee when faced with difficulties. The question is, what are we fleeing to? We might turn from God in anger, hurt, or dismay, but it won’t give us the comfort, strength, or healing we want. It won’t shield us from life’s pain. Instead, we’re only running from the very stronghold, the very hiding place, we seek. As the disciples said when asked if they were leaving, “To whom shall we go?” When life presses in, no one but Jesus has what we truly need.

Ask someone who has faced challenges well what fleeing to God looked like for them.

Diane Gardner lives in the San Francisco Bay area where she enjoys theater, street fairs, and watching the sun set with her husband.