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The Despair of Addiction

The Despair of Addiction

Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” 2 Kings 6:17

Working with addicts, despair is a common encounter. I heard it again recently. My son believes that I’ll never come home from prison. I’ll never change. Even if I do, I’ve caused so much destruction that my life will never amount to anything.

I’ve been there, at the bottom, when I thought I had killed everything good in life. At that point, all I could see was the disaster. I wanted to hope, but I didn’t dare. All I knew was that change was going to be awful and that my life would never be the same.

Addiction robs us of hope. Enslaved to our toxic appetites, we become spiritually blind and can see only what we crave most. We hate our behavior, but the fact that we have tried to stop – and failed a thousand times – only serves to deepen our despair. Then, the only perverse comfort we know, is to return to that which caused our hopelessness in the first place. Addiction is a demon that creates and feeds on our despair.

Today’s passage tells of the despair of spiritual blindness. In it, the king of Syria sought to kill Elisha, so he sent a great army to surround him by night. At daybreak, Elisha’s servant saw their predicament and despaired. This is hopeless.

Elisha saw what the servant could not and asked God to show him. The servant’s eyes were opened to see something that changed his life. Surrounding Elisha and the Syrians, was the terrifying, fiery army of God. Hope dawned on the servant as he understood his greater spiritual reality.

We are the servant. This is hopeless. I’ll always be an addict. I’ll always be enslaved to food, drugs, porn, money, the need for affirmation, anger, pride, or selfishness. I am lost.

We need what the servant needed. We need to comprehend our greater spiritual reality, that Christ died on the cross, forgiving us once and for all. We must see that we have been restored to God and are free to follow Him daily. If we are willing to do what it takes, we can live free from the despair of our addictions and misery. There is always hope in Christ.

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