by Beth Livingston
Certified Recovery Specialist
How do we deal with death, betrayal, injustice, suffering, and other causes of sorrow? With an addiction, we usually turn to our drug of choice. Whether it’s something we drink, eat, smoke, or a behavior we like to get lost in (like Internet gaming, gambling, or pornography), we use it as the place we take our pain. And for a little while, we dodge the hurt. When the sadness returns, we repeat our behavior and the cycle continues.
Unfortunately, our escape routes lead us back to where we began – facing the pain. When we’ve turned to our addiction, we have usually picked up shame to accompany our sorrow. It may simply be feeling ashamed because we turned to the one place we were trying not to go anymore or it could be more publicly shameful, like an arrest or getting fired from a job. Then we use again because we’re ashamed. Our addiction is fed and we remain in the unhealthy cycle.
What if we were offered a new solution? A place to take our sorrow and shame where it wouldn’t be handed right back to us? That’s what Jesus offers us. In the scripture, He says, “Come to me all ye who are weak and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He’s willing to make a trade. He says to bring Him our troubles and He’ll exchange them with peace. Sounds so simple. Why don’t we do that?
Well, somewhere along the way we decided (either consciously or sub-consciously) that God’s solution wasn’t enough for us. We chose to supplement God’s solution with a little bit of our own solution. We might say a prayer and when we don’t feel any better, we return to our familiar way of handling these emotions. Turns out, we simply lack the faith that brings about change. How do we get that kind of faith?
The scriptures tell us to confess our sins and repent. 1 John 1:9 says, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” Acts 3:19 says, “Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.” This means we tell God straight up that we have turned to something other than Him to seek relief; that we have sinned by not seeking Him first. We tell Him we’ve not put our trust in Him alone and we ask Him to forgive us. That’s confession. However, the words don’t mean anything unless our hearts are truly in agreement with our mouths.
The only way our hearts can be in it is if we realize the basic truth of our faith and that is that Jesus loved us so much that he physically suffered and died for our sins. He wanted us to be able to have God’s peace. In John say14: 27, Jesus says, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid.” He wanted us to have this peace so much that he was willing to accept all the punishment for all the wrongdoing we’ve ever done. He was murdered and mocked for us. A thankful heart and a sincere heart develop from a deep realization of what our actions say to the Lord when we choose to take our worries elsewhere.
For example, picture yourself standing with the crowd, looking up at Jesus hanging on the cross in agony. Would you consider looking at Him and saying, “Sorry Jesus, that’s not going to be enough for me. I won’t be able to trust you with everything in my life. I’m going to handle my problems by turning to _______ (fill in the blank with your behavior/addiction) instead.” That’s basically what we tell Him when we choose to turn to our addiction instead of Him. He gave his life for us. He rose up from the grave three days later and proved the power of Almighty God is greater than any power on this earth. When we realize what an insult we’ve hurled at God by saying He’s not enough, our hearts should break. With a humbled and broken heart, what we feel will match our words. Our hearts will be ready to receive the kind of faith that brings about change.
Change is the same thing as repent. We turn from ourselves and we turn to God. That’s trading our sorrows and shame. And as the song goes, “I’m trading it all [sorrow and shame] for the joy of the Lord.” What a trade!
Would you like to accept Jesus’ forgiveness of sins and make Him Lord of your life? Have you done that before, but never really went deep enough in your relationship with Jesus to know the peace that He offers? Please call CBN’s prayer center and tell the person who answers the phone of your need. They will help you. Call 1-800-759-0700 or visit CBN’s online prayer center at http://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/PrayerAndCounseling/index.aspx.