How to Recover
Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God. Jonah 3:4-5
In today’s passage, Jonah finally went to Nineveh, preaching to the people that God was going to destroy them for their evil behavior. They listened. They believed God’s word, and they immediately changed course, saving themselves from disaster.
The turnaround of Nineveh illustrates the three key steps of transformation and recovery. First, the Ninevites accepted that their disastrous behavior was the problem. Second, they believed that God was the solution. Third, they embraced radical change in their actions, turning from their path to God’s.
I have erred in each of these steps. First, I’ve denied that I was my greatest life problem. I’m not an addict. I just take medicine to sleep when I need it. I work hard, and I deserve it. I lied to myself, justifying my behavior, and I continued down my path of destruction.
The second step, believing God to be the answer, should have been easy – I’ve always believed in God. My problem wasn’t that I didn’t believe in him, it was just that I thought I could figure my addiction out on my own. Like every addict, I insisted that I knew best, so I did it my way – doing nothing – and nothing changed.
Third, once I eventually accepted that I was the problem and turned to God as the solution, I still needed to make genuine, structural changes in my life. I needed to go to treatment, go to meetings, read my bible, pray, meditate, and daily engage in behavior that was consistent with faith and recovery. I resisted this step for a long time. I simply wanted a divine, magical solution that required nothing of me. God however, demanded that I actually change my behavior.
If we are tired of our self-inflicted misery and if we want to know the life and peace of faith and recovery, then we must follow the steps described in today’s passage. We must accept our problem, believe in God as the solution, and embrace radical change, daily turning from ourselves to follow him.