He’ll Never Change
When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. Genesis 14:14
He’s hopeless. He’ll never change. He deserves to lose his career. I know there were those who once whispered this about me. They weren’t wrong and I couldn’t fault them for saying it because I was saying it. I’d abused opiates for years, going to treatment twice. I’d promised my wife I’d never go back, yet I kept relapsing. From her perspective, it was a cycle that was just going to continue. In the last disaster though, I finally found lasting recovery. Though my wife had been hurt terribly, she never gave up on our marriage. There were others who acknowledged my failure, but who didn’t abandon me. God was grieved by my rebellion, but he never gave up on me either.
I’m thankful for that, but I’m not sure that I’d have stuck by me. In recovery now for several years, it’s easy to become frustrated with those who fail repeatedly. Once a pattern of self-destructive behavior is established, it’s difficult to believe that someone is going to break free from that pattern. The closer I am to the one struggling, and the more I’ve poured into his life, the more frustrating it is to watch failure after failure. This frustration can even turn into animosity when he once again destroys his life. You got what you deserved. You’ll never change. I may not be wrong. He may deserve the consequences. He may never change. My own personal failure becomes apparent though when my attitude becomes calloused or even hateful. God never gave up on me.
Today’s passage tells a story of never giving up. In the story, Lot – Abraham’s nephew – lived too close to Sodom, an evil city. Swept up in the self-destruction of Sodom, Lot and his estate were taken captive by attacking forces. Word of Lot’s situation was delivered to Abraham, who may have been tempted to just sit back, shaking his head. He got what he deserved. Instead, Abraham gathered his men, and at no small risk to himself, attacked the enemy force, liberating Lot and his family. Lot may have deserved his fate, but Abraham never gave up, sacrificing of himself to save Lot.
We can acknowledge and be saddened by repeated failure. We can agree that painful consequences are appropriate. We can even establish boundaries, distancing ourselves from the destruction of the one struggling. We can do this however, without giving up. We can continue to love, pray for, and encourage, even in repeated failure. For if, in our frustration, we become hateful, then we’ve begun to engage in self-destructive behavior ourselves.