There was a man on the Eastern Shore of Maryland who loved the coastal air. It brought him the salt smell of the Atlantic, the robust aromas of the fertile fields just inland, and the delightful sweetness of his wife’s prize roses. It carried him the gulls with their graceful wings and soulful voices. It soothed him with warm summer breezes and slapped him awake with stiff autumn winds. Much more, that coastal air opened his nose, cleared his head, and just plain made him feel alive. Oh, and there was that one other thing it did for him: every second of every day of every year, that Eastern Shore air gave him life. He needed its oxygen every moment just to survive.

And then one year, the air did something unexpected. When a nearly bottomless cell of low pressure came roaring up from Carolina’s Outer Banks, the balmy ocean breezes of September became a howling hurricane. By the time the storm had passed, his lovely home was a shattered hulk, the roses were a million scraps of shredded pulp, and that delightful woman he’d married was one of several fresh corpses down at the morgue. The coastal air, so friendly for so long, seemed to have become a cruel and vicious enemy.

Understandably, the man was devastated. And he was angry. How could the air do that to him? It was supposed to be his friend! It had no right to hurt him so!

The man was so deeply wounded in his soul that he saw no other option but to declare himself an “air-unbeliever.” He simply refused to believe any longer in the existence of air. He figured he’d just tell everyone he was an airtheist. Anyway, he’d always felt funny about believing in something he couldn’t see. He felt much more intelligent and sophisticated, now that he didn’t believe in air any more.

Furthermore, he decided, if that’s what air was really like — cruel and uncaring, and not even there, anyway — he had no more use for it. So he made a solemn vow that from that day forward, for the rest of his life, he would never willingly breathe again. Every breath would be a prayer of rage against the wind.

What’s wrong with this picture, friend? Just this: the air had never stopped being that imaginary man’s source of life, and pleasure, and wonder. He just began refusing to enjoy it. And whether he liked it or not, whether he was willing to admit it or not, he couldn’t live without air.

And friend, you can’t live without God. I know his plan for your life has included some tragedy, even some agony. But God’s plan for you has also given you a thousand forms of joy and satisfaction. And he is not a mindless, soulless force, like the wind. It’s in him that you live, and move, and have your being. His mind is the Master of the wind. His soul is the source of your life. His mercy is the reason you’re still here. And his love is so staggeringly great that he sacrificed his own Son as payment for the sins of rebels like you and me.

To respond to heartbreak by refusing to believe in God, or by deciding never to serve him or trust him again, is to gut your own soul. Why not rather bow your head, surrender your grief, turn from your rebellion, and trust Jesus to make you right with God?