I Drink for My Anxiety
By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. . . for he was looking to the reward. Hebrews 11:24-26
It’s something I hear often in clinic. I drink because of my depression and anxiety. The one suffering from a mood disorder can certainly find some temporary relief in the bottle. He may know he should go to counseling and see his physician but let’s be honest. We drink for a reason – It does something for us right now. The problem of course is that alcohol is a temporary fix. Not only does it wear off, but often, there’s a terrible price to pay later. Self-medicating with alcohol leads to addiction with all its consequences: loss of job, self-esteem, relationships, and dignity. Now, the one who drank to help his mood is worse off than when he started. He’s now more depressed and more anxious because he’s losing everything. His mood is worse than ever, so he goes back to the only thing he knows that can provide immediate relief . . .
This isn’t a problem unique to alcoholics. We’re all presented with a continual choice between immediate gratification and authentic joy, and the two are usually in direct conflict with each other. We want to be healthy in the future, but today we just want to eat pizza and donuts. We want to have a good relationship with our kids, but after work we just want to relax, watch TV, and have a beer. We want to have healthy marriages, but we also desire pornography or inappropriate relationships.
We want these other unhealthy things for a reason – They do something for us. We find immediate pleasure in them. Today’s passage acknowledges this problem. In it, the author recounts the story of Moses and how he forsook a life of indulgence and wealth, so that he could do right by his people. He could have enjoyed the fleeting pleasures of sin, but he declined because he was looking to the reward.
This is important. Often, we think that following God means a dreary existence, giving up on all of life’s pleasures. On the contrary though, following God’s way is the only way to find authentic life, joy, and peace. When we try to find our happiness in immediate gratification, we’re like the alcoholic trying to find relief in the bottle. Immediate gratification is a fleeting pleasure that abandons us, leaving only pain in its wake. If we truly want to experience a life of joy, we must find it the right way – following God’s plan for our lives.