Every Alcoholic Quits Eventually
Awake, you drunkards, and weep, and wail, all you drinkers of wine, because of the sweet wine, for it is cut off from your mouth. Joel 1:5
In medical school, I learned cynical, yet accurate, statements like these: All bleeding stops, and Every smoker quits eventually. Though satirical, they are no joke, but rather, they are painful statements of futility describing the inevitable outcome of a destructive path. If nothing or no one intervenes, a harmful course leads to harm, and sometimes, even death. God created the world in such a way that destructive behavior cannot continue forever.
This is the tone of today’s passage, in which the prophet Joel chastised the people of Judah for overindulgence in their selfish appetites. Though the failure wasn’t only about alcohol, drunkenness was an obvious symptom of wandering from God. In the disastrous pursuit of their own path, instead of God’s, the Creator brought a plague of locusts, decimating all crops, effectively eliminating the source of their wine. God’s people literally drank themselves dry, sowing the seeds of their own calamity.
The lesson for me, is that I must identify and abandon my toxic behaviors while I can. In the case of my drug use, I refused to do what it took to find recovery, so eventually, my way of life was taken away from me. If I wanted it back, I needed to do what I should have done in the first place. Sin always catches up with us and the farther we push it, the more painful and disastrous the consequences usually are.
We think that freedom is doing as we please, but that is the surest route to addiction and disaster. In our slavery, the only stopping is often when something or someone else painfully forces us to stop. Paradoxically, we only find freedom in surrendering our will to follow God’s, doing whatever it takes to abandon our toxic behaviors.
Every alcoholic and addict quit using eventually, one way or another. We would do well to take the lesson of Joel to heart, turning from our misery while it’s still our choice, to find life, joy and freedom in God.