When it comes to addictions, we often divide people into two groups: those who are prone to addictions and those who aren’t. Perhaps this is not a real helpful understanding. What if we are all prone to a weakness or weaknesses of some kind? Who has not “overdosed” on one of their favorite foods and “paid” for it later? I think we would recognize that really none of us is completely disciplined and self-controlled in every area of our lives. All of us may have more in common with the addict than we think.
No one tries a substance or starts a behavior in the beginning thinking, “I really am looking forward to getting hooked on this and have it become the main focus of my thoughts, become enslaved to it, and become disconnected from my most important relationships…and just maybe I’ll get into trouble with the law while I’m at it. Won’t that be great?” The problem is that we think that we can handle it, that it will make us feel better, calm us, take away the pain—at least for now. We don’t often think it can happen to us. But then the time comes when we can’t put away the substance or behavior, and we crave it and now feel the guilt and shame of not being able to stop. We go into denial. We deceive, we hide it, we crave more, and on goes the cycle. Yes, it is often more complex than this, but these are often spin-offs of the cycle. The consequences are often great. In fact, these addictive cycles have created so much brokenness all around us. It even will reach down to generations.
Okay, so where is the hope part? Let’s go back to how we as humans are much alike. On the one hand, we like to be valued, to have connections, community, and love that is steadfast and true. We like to do things in our world that are recognized and have meaning and purpose. On the other hand, we envy others, we want power and influence, we are proud and self-absorbed, we get bitter, we seek revenge, we become spiteful and angry, and we seek our own pleasure over the joy and happiness of others.
The good qualities we have are because we have been made in the image of God. We recognize these things because He created us to be like Him. The other characteristics we have are actually what the Bible calls sin. Sin is what separates us from the God who created us. The most powerful connection we can have is to the God who created us. Our addictions are really misplaced worship. They are temporary satisfactions, pleasures, or masks for our pain. They never last. They leave us high and dry—empty inside.
If we want lasting joy and right relationships with God and others, God has made a pathway for this. The hard part is humbly realizing that our weaknesses, our brokenness, our sin has created a separation from God and has left broken pieces around us. The Bible says that he who sins is a slave of sin. This is where we are all in the same boat. We have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. To admit our sin, our brokenness, our guilt, our shame is an assault to our pride. As difficult as it is to admit, it is the beginning of new life and new freedom from the things that have enslaved us for too long. God sent His Son, Jesus, to be a sacrifice for our sin, and when we place our faith and trust in Him, He saves us both from the penalty of sin (eternal death) and the power of sin.
God is in the business of restoring our broken hearts and relationships and freeing us from what enslaves us. He wants us to have meaning and purpose and to experience His unconditional love. Admitting that we have sinned and then placing our faith and trust in Jesus gives us new life and new hope. This is the most satisfying and fulfilling life that we can have. If your life is unmanageable and chaotic—if it is a life that seems to be out of control with no hope—there is an everlasting connection. It starts with God, our Creator, who sent His Son, Jesus. Through Him there is freedom, hope, love, strength, and restored relationships. He is the one who eliminates our need for anything else. Our faith and trust in Jesus, I believe, is the start of the best treatment plan we will ever know.
Pastor Mark E.