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For Those Who’ve Felt Worthless

For Those Who’ve Felt Worthless

Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. Joel 2:13

Few people are as well acquainted with repeated failure as the addict. Torn between a desire for recovery and a voracious appetite for destruction, the addict wants a new life, but lives enslaved to the old one. Few addicts find recovery on the first try, which means that relapse and failure become tragically normal.

In his repeated failures and in the growing destructive consequences, the addict begins to lose all hope. Consumed by crushing despair, he believes himself to be a perpetual loser. I’ve tried, and I’ve failed so many times. I’ll never know recovery. I’m destined to live like this until it kills me. I’ll never be anything more than just a worthless addict.

It is precisely to the one caught in a trap of repeated failure and hopelessness that Joel speaks to in today’s passage. In it, the prophet provides the best news the addict will ever hear as he tells his people that they don’t have to spend their lives in a never-ending cycle of destruction. If they are willing to surrender, repent, and return to God, he is always faithful to love, forgive, and embrace.

The addict worries that he’s abused God’s grace one too many times, and he most certainly has abused God’s grace. He’s said he’s sorry, intended to change, and then relapsed countless times. It is precisely to those who have failed repeatedly though, to whom Joel speaks.

No matter how many times we fail and no matter how hopeless we feel, God is always there, calling us. You may feel worthless, but you have value to me. I love you and I have gone to great and painful lengths to draw you to me. You don’t have to live like this. If you will give up your right to follow yourself, if you will follow me, you can know life, joy, and peace.

God is calling. The response is up to us. Will we daily abandon our misery and destruction, or will we cling insanely to it? We are of profound worth to God. We can’t earn his love, but we can live in it.

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