Lost Cause

Lost Cause

Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. John 19:39

Having been in recovery for a few years and having seen many addicts attempt recovery, I can often predict whether someone is going to be successful in staying sober or not. Those who are honest with themselves and commit permanently to a radically different life, will do well. Those who have difficulty being honest and those whose commitment is half-hearted won’t stay in recovery very long. So, I imagine myself to be quite wise and often, I’ll deem someone to simply be a lost cause. Having been through multiple treatments and relapses, this individual just keeps repeating the same mistakes and doesn’t seem to be capable of change.

It wasn’t that long ago that I was that person. Having been to treatment twice previously, and having wasted a second and third chance, I still relapsed, losing my job and nearly my family. I know there were those who looked at me and thought, He is a lost cause. His wife should just leave him. I can’t blame them. I had those same thoughts myself. I felt hopeless. Then something happened though. In my hopelessness, I began to abandon myself and in following God, he began to change me. I’m far from perfect. I’m still deeply flawed. But today, I’m living in blessed recovery as God has radically transformed the disaster that was my life.

Today’s passage briefly mentions another unlikely transformation. Back at the beginning of the gospel of John, we’re told how Nicodemus, a Pharisee, came to Christ under cover of night to speak with him. The Pharisees, as a group, opposed Jesus, wanting him dead. Followers of Christ probably considered Nicodemus, as a Pharisee, to be a lost cause. Nicodemus sought Christ though, and in today’s passage, we’re told how he cared for his body after his crucifixion. Though the Pharisees were bitter enemies of Jesus, Nicodemus risked reputation and status to love and care for him, even after his death. An unlikely convert, Nicodemus believed in Christ.

We know those who seem like lost causes. Our job isn’t to judge though, but rather to pray and to be obedient in sharing God’s love, even with those whom we think incapable of change. Fortunately for me, God loves saving even those who seem utterly hopeless.

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