The Painful Truth About Addiction, Recovery and Faith
For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:13-14
Every time an addict sobers up for a few days, goes to a meeting, or enters treatment, his family rejoices, hoping he’s finally “turned things around” and is “on the right path”. Every time he relapses then, his family’s hopes are shattered as he returns to his destructive ways for the 20th time.
It’s similar for the addict. He too, wants a different life and he often attempts change. This time I really mean it. I’m never going to use again. I’m done with that misery! Then, when he fails again for the 100th time, he too, feels hopeless. I’ll never be free. I’ll always be an addict.
I wish it was different, but here’s the painful truth: Not all addicts find recovery. In fact, the odds aren’t great. Most people in treatment today, won’t find a year of sobriety. Addiction is a miserable disease for which the addict is responsible for seeking treatment. The very nature of addiction though causes the one suffering from it to avoid making the painful changes necessary to find recovery.
In today’s passage Jesus said as much. The way that leads to destruction is broad and well populated. The way to life is narrow and hard . . . and few make it (my paraphrase). Whether it’s faith or recovery (to me the two are profoundly intertwined), not everyone makes it.
I don’t think Jesus meant to cause us despair, but rather, to teach us that we’re not responsible for the choices of others. We cannot find faith or recovery for anyone else. We must tell others of what God has done for us, but we leave the results up to him. We are responsible to daily do whatever it takes to continue on God’s path ourselves. The road to life is hard, and we may not lose our faith if we relapse, but we can certainly find destruction when we try to return to the broad road.
Thankfully, by God’s grace, we don’t have to return to our disaster. Daily, we have the freedom to walk the narrow road, finding faith, recovery and joy in him.