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Get High, Withdraw, Repeat

Get High, Withdraw, Repeat

You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. Haggai 1:6

The recurrent pattern for the addict is compulsive drug use to get high, followed by letdown and withdrawal. Then, in his misery, the addict’s only solution is to repeat the process over again, never quite returning to the good times once remembered, but rather, spiraling further and further down the hole of despair, destruction, and consequences.

This, not incidentally, is similar to other addictions. The food addict compulsively binges, initially enjoying food, but inevitably loses control and overeats to the point of misery. This is followed by remorse and guilt. In his misery, he promises never again, but when the hunger returns, so does the loss of control. The cycle of misery then repeats itself.

The reality is, we all have something in which we inappropriately find instant gratification, robbing us of the true joy that God means for us to find only in him. For some it’s drugs, for others, it’s food, money, work, sex, or affirmation. Some of these things aren’t inherently destructive, but the one who relies on stuff for happiness, has pursued a high that is just as fleeting and unstable as a drug.

This is the condition described by Haggai in today’s passage. In the story, the Israelites had been set free from Babylonian captivity and returned to Jerusalem to rebuild God’s temple, but quickly gave up on the project. Instead of rebuilding the temple, the symbol of God’s presence, they rebuilt their own lives and homes, forgetting about the one who saved them from captivity.

Haggai insisted their pursuits were all meaningless if they did not first follow God. They could eat and drink, and make money, but it would never be enough to satisfy the hole in their lives that only God was meant to fill. Pursuing gratification only in food, drink, and money would lead them, not to joy, but to a recurrent cycle of emptiness.

This is our continual choice. We don’t need to live in our repetitive miseries. Daily, if we’ll abandon our cycle of destructive behavior we may know lasting joy and satisfaction in the God who made us to find those things only in him.

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