What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us? Exodus 14:5
My wife and I were watching a movie recently, when our discussion turned to an actor in the film who, in real life, died of a heroin overdose. He had apparently been sober for some time before his final relapse. This is the terror of the one struggling with addiction, that any relapse will have disastrous consequences.
Pharaoh discovered this in today’s passage. He had pseudo-repented several times during the plagues, only to break his promise to release the Israelites. In the horror of the final plague, the death of every firstborn, he finally let the Israelites go. Once gone though, he forgot the pain of consequence and he wanted them back. He pursued the Israelites to his own death.
This is how and why we relapse. In the misery of consequence, we stop our destructive behavior. When the pain fades though, we remember why we engaged in the behavior in the first place. We start to think that we can cheat consequences.
For the drug addict, this is disastrous. If I give in and eat a donut, my world does not end. If I relapse and abuse pills again however, it is a different story. If I indulge in my addiction, the consequences, like Pharaoh’s, are disastrous.
The man who struggles with some lesser defect then, may come to understand the addict in his defect. If I told you that you would lose your career, family and possibly your life if you ever overate, lost your temper, gossiped, or lusted again, could you avoid relapse for the rest of your life?
The danger, is to think that the defect of lesser consequence is not a big deal. Though earthly outcomes vary, repeatedly giving in to some small indulgence leads to an addiction that robs God of our attention. We may not go to treatment if we keep eating donuts, but any appetite of the flesh that controls us is destructive to our spiritual life as it turns us from God.