This week, I’m led to write about one of the heaviest topics I know. And I don’t have a catchy illustration to draw you in, or a cute little anecdote to arouse curiosity. It’s a topic which plagues most Americans today, and it’s neither cute nor little nor anecdotal. In fact, if the statistics are accurate, one out of every ten of you struggles with it. And while we’d like to think that Christendom is exempt from such a malicious statistic, we know better. You, particularly, might know all too well.
Because addictions are real. Addictions can be scary. And, ultimately, addictions are devastating.
Why do addictions occur?
The simple answer? Because we are sinners — dirty, rotten-to-the-core, stubborn, independent sinners — through and through. The reality of it is we would probably ALL be addicts if it were not for the good grace of God actively working despite our last ditch efforts to sabotage ourselves. AW Tozer says, “If it were not for the grace of God, there go I…” So lest you think, “I don’t have an addiction to anything stronger than my morning cup of coffee, so I can just skim this over and tune it out,” listen up! Sin is crouching at your door and it desires to control you!
Addictions occur for as many reasons as there are addicts. Some have bought into a lie the world has told them:
“Alcohol isn’t so bad; it just lets you have a good time. What’s wrong with that?”
“Pot is legal is in some states, so it can’t be all that horrible. Besides it relaxes me, and I need to be relaxed!”
“Shopping is fun; it’s my retail therapy. Besides, I’m just building my credit.”
Lies. Lies. Lies.
Some are nursing a broken heart. A deep pain occurred, one the Lord never intended you to endure, but people are sinful and horrible things happen in this fallen world. So, a desire to forget takes over in order to cope. You medicate, you cut, you throw up, you smoke, you masturbate, you binge, you drink, you forget. That void…it’s filled…finally. That spot, that gnawing pain that drowns out everything good in your life…is hit. And you’re okay! Release…for a moment. But then that moment is passed, and the pot, the vodka, the knife didn’t end up hitting the spot after all. It just made you forget where that spot was, where that hurt came from, where that void echoed. And you return to the bottle, to the blade, to the weed, to the dealer, to the bathroom floor…and do it. All. Over. Again.
This is the cycle of an addiction. This is the downward spiral James talks about in James 1:14-16, “But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived!” The interesting thing is that the object of most of our desires is not evil. It’s not wrong to want freedom from past hurts; it’s not wrong to want to look our best or to be married or to relax. Those are good and positive things. The problem comes in their growth. That once innocent desire grows to a demand. We now demand that God do this in our lives. Then that demand, unfulfilled, grows to a disappointment which eventually grows to a distrust in God. Ultimately, it destroys our intimacy with a God who absolutely loves us. But now God is the enemy. He’s the one who caused this to happen to you. He’s the one holding out on you. He’s the one who is the jerk trying to control you. And before you know it, this addiction has so taken over your life, it defines you. You are the anorexic. You are the shoplifter. You are the cutter. You are the pothead. You are the party girl. You are the sex addict. And you feel like you can’t escape this fate. This is your reality. This is your demon. This is your addiction. And I can promise you, if we don’t deal with this now, this will be your future…your life.
I want to give you HOPE.
With this article, my sisters, I want to give you hope. But not hope like you and I understand the word. The way our English language defines hope is more centered around wishful thinking or a feeling. “I hope to pass my finals next week, but I have no real confidence that I’m going to.” That kind of hope has a 50/50 chance of turning in your favor. That’s not the kind of hope I want to give you today.
When I say I want to give you hope I mean in the fullest, most biblical sense of the word. The word hope in Greek is elpis and it means, “trust, confidence, an expectation of what is sure.” You see, when our hope is in God, it’s a sure thing! It’s not a maybe, or a might be…it’s a done deal!
That’s the kind of hope I have for you, each of you. Maybe you’re reading this and you don’t have an addiction as the world defines it. You’re the other 9 out of the 10. You don’t struggle with temptations to self-harm, smoke, drink or masturbate…but you do have that one sin that gets you every time. You do find yourself repeating that same prayer, “Lord, forgive me again for_____________ (lying, stealing, gossiping, lashing out…you know what it is). And I have this same hope, this elpis kind, for you.
So, how do we break free from these addictions? Click here for part two.