I’m Miserable, but I Want Another
Who has woe? Who has sorrow? . . . Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine . . . Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things . . . “When shall I awake? I must have another drink.” Proverbs 23:29-35
Years ago, while waiting tables one evening, I met two gentlemen who came in to the restaurant and sat down but didn’t order. They looked awful and proceeded to tell me how hungover they were. Nauseated and miserable, they couldn’t eat, but they did eventually order a pitcher of beer and by the time they left, they felt better, but were well on their way to tomorrow’s hangover. I was not addicted at the time, so I found their behavior remarkably stupid. Why would you drink to the point of misery and then do it again the next day?
Today’s passage describes this condition in which the subject compulsively seeks immediate gratification in another drink, despite suffering harmful consequences. This is the definition of addiction and it isn’t just about alcohol. This is about any self-destructive behavior in which we engage for some gratification, despite the pain that follows. This is about our lust, pride, greed, anger, gossip, meddling, gluttony and self-centered behavior.
Why do we overeat when we know the miserable results? Why do we take another drink when we know the emptiness that follows? We do it because there is something in it for us. We were made to seek joy and satisfaction, but we were made, like Adam and Eve, to find those things in God alone. Like Adam and Eve though, we try to cheat, seeking immediate gratification in the apple, which always leads to painful consequences.
If we want to stop causing our own misery and if we desire to know true joy and satisfaction, we must do what it takes to abandon our self-destructive behavior to follow God. Only in doing so, do we interrupt the maddening cycle of self-addiction.