There Are Worse Things than Treatment or Jail
For he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6
In the throes of my addiction, I knew I needed treatment. I didn’t want to go though. Treatment seemed like a horrible place which I wanted to avoid at all costs. As it turned out however, there were much worse things than treatment – like losing my job due to my addiction. In the end, I had to go to treatment anyway. Once there, I complained about my lack of freedom – This place is like jail! Those who’d been to jail informed me that it was nothing like jail and that I was being a whiner. There are worse things than treatment.
Now, when I work or volunteer in jail, I think of it as one of the worsts places on Earth. Recently though, in jail, I’ve met several individuals from southeast Asia who fear for their lives if deported back to their countries. They don’t want to be in jail, but for them, being in jail in the U.S. is far better than going back home. It’s a strange perspective I’d not considered before. There are worse things than jail.
Today’s passage is all about perspective. In it, the author of Hebrews reminded us that God will never leave us. He made the world, and he holds it in his hands. He is in control, and he always works things out for our ultimate good. Considering this, the author asks the rhetorical question – What can man do to me?
The answer though, is that man can do a lot to us. The author had previously acknowledged that some followers of Christ suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. (Hebrews 11:36-37). This world can be harsh and terrible things can happen to us. What then, is the good of believing in God? What does the passage mean, that we should not fear?
The answer requires a difficult perspective. The answer requires that we see a reality beyond our immediate circumstances. To know authentic joy and peace in God, we must realize that joy and peace don’t come from our situation but rather from our relationship with him. No one can take that away, which means that in God, we have something the world cannot touch. In this light, we realize that we can experience peace and joy, despite our circumstances. I will not fear; what can man do to me? This perspective takes faith, but in it, we find hope in the blessed reality that God will never leave us.