March 8, 2017
If you thought my frequent mention of addictions in Stepping Stones wasn’t for you, I am glad you’re reading today because … Newsflash: every one of us is an addict. You see, God wouldn’t give us the first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” if He didn’t know our number 1 weakness. In fact, God tells us in the other 9 commandments what our idolatry (addictions) might lead to.
You might think, “Well, not me. I don’t have any addictions.” Newsflash #2: Every one of us is addicted to comfort. Think about it. We all struggle to deal with discomfort, especially emotional or psychological discomfort or pain. Even though we say “no pain, no gain,” it’s amazing how quickly we either run away from pain, or need to quickly soothe or anaesthetize it. You see, we are all born separated from God – and that is the ultimate pain anyone has to bear – so our radar is finely tuned to warn us about any possible pain with hopes to avoid or protect us from similar pain. Even contemplating a temporary three hour separation from His Father on the cross prompted Jesus to ask God to have this “cup,” His destiny and purpose to die on the cross, pass from Him.
As kids, we developed strategies to deal with pain. Unfortunately, we weren’t mature and our “teachers” weren’t perfect. So developing adequate coping mechanisms for physical, psychological, relational, emotional, and spiritual pain was a random, faulty and very short-sighted process … not very effective for long haul functioning and fulfillment while bringing some consequences or difficulties.
Our coping strategies or solutions are usually flesh-driven answers, knee-jerk reactions, or immediate relievers. These “solutions” are the Addiction Objects … objects or behaviors we go to and rely on in a repetitive way to meet our needs instead of looking to God for His answers. The Bible calls them idols, lusts, and fleshly desires. Our scientific term is addiction and the same process occurs regardless of the addiction object. Obviously, when we leave God out, consequences follow. God could directly soothe us or He might choose to provide appropriate objects to fill our needs. So when we want to soothe or avoid discomfort, our first response should be to look toward Him, using His power and direction, not our own power or objects.
Some common addiction objects are be drugs, alcohol, food or pornography. But they can also be work, productivity, security, our intellect, kids, money, spending, a “martyr complex,” exercise, our looks/physique, sports, TV, hobbies, fighting, control, a relationship, sex, texting, Facebook, Twitter, power, approval, anger (or any emotion), etc. If it comforts you or relieves some negative feeling, Satan will use it as a tempting addiction object. People can often find themselves obsessively and compulsively hooked on almost anything. How many times have you joked, “I am so addicted to…?” Just look at the problem our nation faces with being overweight, sexual elements, spending, music, TV, electronics, or all the social media.
One of the great lies Satan perpetrates is that addiction objects offer self-protection. The truth is they are self-destructive. Addictions are the repetitive pursuit or use of something, even though that it brings consequences. Leaving God out of any pursuit or coping skill brings hardship. Just look at Solomon’s experiences in Ecclesiastes. He pursues everything under the sun for comfort, while leaving out God. He becomes overwhelmed, lost, and depressed. Then he finally declares all objects to be vanity (or meaningless) when God is not pursued first.
Today, let’s really do some honest reflection. When you are uneasy, lonely, stressed, etc., what do you go to first? Bingo! You probably found your addiction object. Next time, try to look to God first and see what He prescribes for your pain. He is the Ultimate Physician and Healer and Wonderful Counselor and is always available for drop-ins. If you or a loved one struggle with a substance or significant life-disrupting addiction and need intensive treatment, please call our Helpline: 844-Life-Change (844-543-3242) for immediate answers and options. The question isn’t, “Do I have an addiction?” The question is “Am I using God’s power to control my addiction, or is my addiction interfering with and controlling my life?” Whether you come clean and admit your addiction or you stay in denial and continue to let your addiction object rule on the throne of your heart is your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father God, for many years I struggled with the pain of needing to be needed, accepted, valued. I turned to my addictions for comfort, but they only caused more pain. You have freed me from my bondage to all addictions. But I still struggle with a need for control. Help me to tolerate discomfort, because your grace is sufficient. Help me to grow the Mind of Christ and to look to You as my ultimate Lighthouse of refuge and sanctuary. I pray in Christ’s freeing name. And all God’s children say – AMEN!
Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:3
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience– among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. Ephesians 2:1-3
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9,10
1 Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”;
8 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity
10 The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth.
13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. Ecclesiastes 12:1,8,10,13