At My Rock Bottom
The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts. Revelation 9:20-21
After telling my addiction story to a recovery group recently, the questions started. They wanted to know all about the disaster: the job loss, the marital strife, the trouble I was in with the medical board. As time has passed, I find myself thinking less about those life-altering events and so, the questions brought up a lot of memories that I hadn’t thought about in a while. It was a horrible time in life when I was in danger of losing everything I loved. I was at what you’d call my rock bottom.
It’s called rock bottom because it’s the lowest a person can go and because hopefully it’s the point at which he (or she) rebounds. That was certainly the case for me in 2014. I needed terrible consequences to cause me to commit to radical change. Without that pain, I’d probably still be using. Incidentally, I thought I’d hit rock bottom previously. Twice, in 2008 and 2012, I went to outpatient treatment when I thought my life was at its low point. I wasn’t ready to be done with drugs though and so I kept relapsing and found that I could go even lower. I discovered that if, in the misery, I refused to repent, things could always get worse.
That’s the message of today’s passage. In it, Jon prophesied that in the end times, war, conflict, and cataclysms will kill a third of mankind. The world will be in utter chaos – perhaps at its rock bottom. This time of upheaval seems to be directed at those who’ve rejected God, but as Jon recorded in today’s passage, it had no effect on their spiritual lives. Rock bottom didn’t cause them to repent. Rather, they just kept on doing that which had earned the wrath of God in the first place. And things got worse.
God uses trials to shape us. Repentance isn’t automatic though. In my addiction, I once had some painful times that should have caused me to find recovery, but I didn’t. So, things got much worse. When we face misery, it doesn’t necessarily mean God is punishing us, but we should always use the discomfort to grow. In the trial, we should daily go to God, asking what he wants us to do. In failing to learn and grow from the pain, we make things far worse than they already are.