Never Give Up
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58
I know it’s not unique to addiction but working with the addicted can be particularly frustrating. It’s not uncommon to see individuals do well in treatment or jail, only to relapse every time they get out. It honestly seems unusual for someone to find lasting recovery on the first try and repeated failure almost becomes expected. There are those whom it seems will simply never find recovery.
I remember my first time in outpatient treatment. Many clients were there for their third or fourth times. I was unimpressed. I’m never going to relapse and return to treatment like these losers. I went back . . . twice. At my last relapse, there were those who justifiably thought that I was hopeless and would never find recovery. Still, there were others who tried to reach me.
Honestly though, it can feel futile to invest yourself in the lives of others only to watch them fail repeatedly. Often, the effort seems worthless when so few stay sober for any length of time. Sometimes, you just want to throw your hands up and quit. I’m done. This is useless.
In today’s passage, Paul spoke to those who are ready to quit investing in others. He didn’t promise that we’d necessarily be successful in the way that we define success. He simply said, Don’t give up. Be the rock. Continue God’s work no matter what. Your labor is never in vain (my paraphrase). Even if we don’t get to see it, we can never know the full impact our efforts have. When we share our faith and recovery, even if it doesn’t obviously and immediately take root, we may have planted some seed. Even though I relapsed repeatedly, eventually I remembered the lessons that others taught me long before.
Success as we measure it though, isn’t the primary reason that we continue to labor. The real reason we keep sharing our experience, strength, and hope, is that God has told us to do so. Even if we never see anyone else find faith or recovery, if we’ve been obedient in sharing, we’ve already achieved success. If we can lay our heads down at night, knowing that we’ve done what God has called us to do, then we can sleep in peace, knowing the miraculous change that God has done in us – and that is enough. The rest we must leave up to God.