I guess I understand where such a comment comes from. To the outsider, it must look like the new believer is grasping at straws, desperately embracing God “just in case.”
And honestly, sometimes such an observation is right on. Look at all the Americans who flocked to churches in the wake of 9/11 – attending faithfully for six weeks or six months, maybe even listening attentively to the readings and sermons, until the lure of the world reclaimed their hearts and minds. They are the false converts of the world, the ones for whom the seeds of faith were planted in the stony or thorny soil described by Jesus in Matthew 13.
But it’s not always the case. Some sin-hardened hearts are so brittle that tragedy is able to produce the crumbly, friable soil that invites rapid germination and deep root growth. In these cases, moderate setbacks won't do it; such hearts need to be literally pulverized before their owners will doggedly seek (and find!) the Lord in search of solace, hope, and, most important, eternal truth.
We see such cases reported in Scripture, from the story of Nebuchadnezzar recorded in Daniel 4 and 5 to the parable of the prodigal son told in Luke 15.
And, in a much less concise and profound way, we see it in stories like mine.
Those of us who’ve taken this difficult route to Christ are no doubt legion. Over the years I've talked with many born-again believers who turned to Christ only after their hearts had been shattered. Which is why when I pray for the salvation of unbelievers, my prayers so often include a petition along the lines of "Do whatever it takes, Lord God, to get this person's attention."
I ask this with trepidation, knowing full well that when it comes to saving us for all eternity, the Lord does not pussyfoot around with us. He knows precisely what it will take to get each individual's attention. And that is the course He pursues, according to His sovereign control over our circumstances, and in His perfect timing.
It is not always successful. Too many are busy dancing down the wide path to destruction, so absorbed in pleasure or pride that they’ll never notice the narrow gate to life. For them, the consequences are tragic for all eternity.
But in some instances, the result is rejoicing in heaven, as each once-lost soul is forever found.
And when that happens, the reward is so glorious even in this life that its catalyst – the heart-shattering event that led to repentance and belief – does not seem so tragic after all.