When relapse happens, it’s frustrating and even seems defeating. Now let me be clear at the outset of this post. I’m not targeting any person or specific example, but rather just thinking of the overall reality of relapse that occurs with addiction. Serving Jesus in the area of addiction recovery means that we will encounter triggers, heartache, and relapse. When thinking about the number of souls who’ve come through our community’s faith-based sober transitional living homes (Freedom House), I wonder sometimes how all the ones who’ve come and gone are doing today.
For anyone working within the recovery world, it takes time to change and consistently walk in freedom. Any of us who’ve struggled with any kind of addiction know this. My own struggle to get free from pornography came over time. I remember so many times of conviction from God to confess it and walk away, only to find myself failing, isolating, and covering my sin up yet again. Now, there are some who are more or less overnight set free from their addiction, but generally it takes a long process of ups and downs.
When I look at those I’ve loved who struggle and fail, I’m reminded of all those times I did the same thing. Whether you identify with a porn or substance abuse battle… or know someone who does, remind yourself that it is a process.
Here’s the thing though, the process of recovery is a work that ultimately must be undergirded by God’s very strength. We can’t do it on our own, and we can’t force it on others. This is our great hope actually! Our recovery ultimately isn’t dependent on us. Oh, it does involve us, don’t get me wrong. But, it is ultimately God’s strength inside of us as His followers that give us the power to choose this recovery road.
The Apostle Paul writes very clearly in Romans 6:11 that we are to consider ourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. He also explains in that passage that we have the very resurrection power of Jesus to choose to walk in our new identity. We don’t have to be defined by our addiction/sin, but instead we through our faith in Jesus are identified by our Savior! How freaking awesome is that?!
Here’s why this is so amazing and encouraging… When someone we care about fails and goes back to their addiction, our hope is not in their consistency or in our persuasion. No, our hope is in King Jesus who has already secured the victory over all sin and hell itself. You think He’s surprised by any of our failures or relapses? Heck no. This God of ours is literally the Almighty God, the Higher Power. He is in control and knows exactly what we need. He loves us with a pursuing love, but it’s also a deep love that persists through allowing us to fail. Jesus pursues us through our triggers and relapses.
One thing that’s always puzzled me with Jesus is how He just let people walk away. I mean He didn’t force people to follow Him. After the feeding of the 5,000, He teaches in John 6 about what it really means to follow Him. Afterwards many of His former “followers” turn away and no longer followed Him. What did He do? He just let them go! It’s not that Jesus didn’t care about these people, and we know He leaves the 99 for the 1 lost sheep. But, when people turn away and choose to walk away, He also lets them go. It also doesn’t mean that He stops drawing them to Himself later either.
Here’s my point with all of this… God is a patient, kind God that works through our sin and stubbornness. At some point, God’s patience runs out but praise be to Him for His incredible long-suffering with each of us! Romans 2:5 reminds us that it’s by the kindness of God that we are brought to repentance. So when you feel defeated yourself or when someone close to you falls back into old behaviors, KEEP your eyes on King Jesus! Look to Him, for it is through His very strength that you or your loved one will return to walk in freedom. Like the persistent widow of Luke 18, we must keep it up! Keep worshipping, keep praying, and keep having faith!
We won’t stop worshiping our King! We won’t stop praying for revival! We won’t stop loving people! We won’t stop proclaiming Jesus to a needy world! Thank Jesus for the confidence You give us Your redeemed family even when we feel defeated!