When it All Goes Bad
The fruit for which your soul longed has gone from you, and all your delicacies and your splendors are lost to you, never to be found again! Revelations 18:14
No one wants to live like this. Almost daily, I meet those who express this bleak sentiment. They’re homeless. They’re hopelessly addicted. They have nothing. They live only for the drug, which has absolutely consumed their lives. They’re miserable, and yet they cannot stop the downward spiral of self-destruction. When I inquire about their back story, I ask them to go back to the beginning. Most of them do remember a time when drug use was fun and rebellious. At first, they used to get high, feel good, or escape some misery, but as the drug took over their lives, they eventually got to the point where all addicts get. They must use just to not feel sick. There are no more good times. It’s all just profound despair and the only relief is to return to the very thing that has destroyed their lives in the first place.
I’ve been there. I can honestly look back with some strange fondness at my first experiences with opioids. At the time, I floated through life on a cloud, not realizing the horror that I’d invited into my life. I quickly discovered the consequences of immediate gratification though as I learned what withdrawal felt like – it wasn’t pleasant. I found I needed more and more of the drug to get the same high, and as I consumed handfuls of pills, they metastasized through my life assuming control of everything. This isn’t fun anymore. I hated what I was doing, and I came to hate who I was. The thing I once wanted became the thing I despised, yet I couldn’t give it up. That’s the disease of addiction.
This is the message of today’s passage. In it, John described the fall of Babylon, those rebellious people whom the world depended on for trade and financial gain. The riches that the world once desperately sought, was suddenly gone and in its place lay nothing but despair.
As always, this phenomenon isn’t just about drugs. This is about any inadequate thing in which we attempt to find our life, joy, and meaning. Like a favorite song we listen to until we’re sick of it, we foolishly attempt to find happiness in immediate gratification. Whatever it is though – porn, money, food – if it’s not God, it will fail us, turning to poison. When we get to that point – This isn’t fun anymore – then we must do whatever it takes to abandon our toxic behavior, turning to the only one who can provide authentic life, joy, and peace.