Rising from Addiction
Easter — and springtime in general — is a time of revival. That’s true spiritually as well as physically. In the world around us, life is blossoming again after winter; even in southern climates that remain fairly lush through winter months, spring brings baby animals, Easter flowers and garden planting. All of these things remind us of hope and new beginnings — and the redemption that was granted, to every person willing to accept it, by a Savior more than 2,000 years ago.
For those struggling with drug addiction, springtime can be a time of renewal. It’s also a time to reflect on the Easter message and how that grace and miracle plays out in our lives on a daily basis. Here are three ways the Easter story is relevant to recovery from drug or alcohol addiction.
Even those who fall away are granted forgiveness
One of the elements of the Easter story that is often overlooked is how Jesus was abandoned by his closest friends as his hour of need approached. During the last supper, he predicts that it’s going to happen. After telling the disciples that one of them will betray him, he adds that they will all fall away. “Not I,” says Peter. “I’ll never do it!” Jesus tells him that before the rooster crows the next morning, Peter will have denied Christ three times; much to Peter’s horror, that does happen.
Despite the lack of support and the fact that his friends run and hide once he’s arrested, Jesus offers them grace and forgiveness. There’s a two-prong lesson in this part of the story for those in recovery. First, whether you are just seeking Christ for the first time in your life or you have fallen away from him through addiction, know that he will receive you back openly if you simply ask.
The second lesson is about forgiving others and seeking forgiveness. Often, the people who are closest to you fall away as you fall deeper into an addiction cycle. Even entering recovery can seem to drive some friends or family away, and it’s natural to be frustrated or angry with them. Seeking to follow Jesus means taking his lead in these things, though, and Jesus would forgive. Work with your counselors and other recovery professionals to understand when you should simply forgive and when it may be healthy to seek reconciliation.
Nothing has defeated the light that is Christ
Another lesson from the Easter story is that nothing has defeated Jesus. Not even the devil — not even death — could put out his light or stop his message. The Bible says that the light — which is Christ — has come into the world, and the darkness has not overcome it. For anyone who accepts Jesus into their heart, that statement can be made more personal. The light has come into you, and the darkness has not overcome it. Even in what might seem like the darkest hours of addiction or recovery, if you are walking with Jesus, there is light — there is hope.
Faith in unseen outcomes is essential
Finally, the Easter story points us to the need to have faith in God’s plan even when we can’t see the outcome. After he rises from the tomb, Jesus visits his disciples. Thomas, ever known from this point on as the doubter, won’t believe it’s Jesus until he sees the wounds on his hands and sides. Jesus tells them that they are lucky; they’ve walked with him and seen miracles, and it’s easy for them to believe. Much harder, says Jesus, for all the people who have not personally seen these things to believe — and yet they do.
When you’re dealing with life-altering addiction and substance abuse disorders, it can be difficult to see past the current problems to have faith that God has an ultimate plan for you. It’s hard, sometimes, to have that kind of faith when you aren’t able to actively see it impacting your immediate need. Some people ask, “If God has a plan for me, why doesn’t he get rid of my addiction right now?”
Unfortunately, we live in a broken and troubled world, and disease and struggle is part of that. Addiction, like other chronic illnesses, isn’t something God always chooses to heal with a sudden miraculous event. Sometimes, his plan involves another way and another path. The Easter story — and Christ’s devotion to the path his Father set out for him — provides us with an illustration of how to have faith in the unseen and how to follow God’s path through trials and tribulations.
During this season of revival and renewal, take time to talk to Jesus about what you need to revive in your life. Consider taking one action around Easter to revive yourself, your commitment to sobriety or your relationships with others.