The Addict’s Main Problem
Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength . . . Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord . . . Jeremiah 17:5-8
The problem with the addict or alcoholic is that he follows his diseased appetite above all. Enslaved to his flawed desires, his addiction makes the decisions, overruling all reason and logic. Despite tremendous evidence to the contrary, the addict accepts all manner of insanity. I don’t have a problem. OK, maybe I have a problem, but I can handle it. I don’t need help. I’ll just cut back. I should be able to have just one, once in a while. Ok, maybe just two . . .
I know these twisted thoughts because these have been my thoughts. In my addiction, I refused to accept reality and I refused to follow God. I relied on my own thinking, which had been perverted and twisted by my addiction. Following me above all, I was my own greatest problem.
Today’s passage speaks to this condition. In it, Jeremiah says that the one who follows himself is cursed. The only solution – and really the only adequate alternative – is to follow God. Following self is disaster. Following God is life.
This is true not only for the alcoholic and addict. This is true for all of us. We all eventually find misery when we follow our own preferences and reasoning. Whether it’s overeating, anger, gambling, greed, lust, resentment, or pride, our main problem is that we pursue ourselves above all.
For the addict – and for all of us – it doesn’t really matter if we claim to believe in God if we only follow ourselves. We can say we have faith, but if that faith never translates into a change in behavior, then that faith is worthless. Faith is belief translated into action. If we truly have faith in God, we will follow him, and it will change us.
Our greatest life problem is that we follow ourselves. The only adequate solution to this problem, is to follow God. If we want to know life, joy and peace, we must daily abandon our way to follow his.