God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:9
It’s not uncommon to hear, from those who have addicts in their lives, that they pray and pray for that addict, but nothing happens. When God doesn’t make the addict get clean, those praying are frustrated and may even become bitter at God. Where is God? Doesn’t he care? Doesn’t he want my son to get sober? I’ve prayed but God hasn’t kept up his end of this deal.
I prayed similarly in my own drug use. I asked God to take my addiction and he didn’t. Frustrated with God, I blamed him for my disastrous life. The lesson I had to learn back then – and the lesson I must continue to learn – is that my self-destruction is never due to God’s unfaithfulness. I had to realize that if it was God who was failing or me who was failing, it wasn’t God. I was the problem. If I wanted recovery, I had to abandon myself and follow him. God opened my prison door. I needed to follow him to freedom. I preferred, however, to sit in my cell and blame God for my condition.
In today’s passage, Paul insisted that God is faithful and that, as Christians, we’re not lacking in any gift (1:7). Jesus, Paul insisted, will sustain you to the end (1:8). God is faithful and if we follow him, living by faith, then we will receive what we need to become who we were made to be. If we’re enslaved to sin, it’s not because God has been unfaithful to set us free from our prison. It’s because we’ve failed to follow him out of it. If it’s God lacking, or us lacking, it’s us.
This explains why those praying for their addict often remain frustrated. They want what anyone would want. They want God to throw the addict in a headlock and drag him out of prison. The problem isn’t God though. When the addict turns to God, he’s set free, but then he must follow. Often though, the addict just remains in prison. Again, if God is lacking or the addict is lacking – you get the idea. We can and should pray for those struggling, but we also must understand whose failure it is that keeps them enslaved to their struggle.
God is always faithful. When we’re failing, we must daily go to him and ask what it is that he wants us to do. Then we must do it. That’s hard enough to do for oneself, and frankly, it’s impossible to do for someone else.