"I don't know if I even believe in God."
The words out of my husband's mouth shocked me. He had recently returned home from a faith-based rehab that I "just knew" was going to purge his mind of all things addiction, and turn him into the husband I'd always dreamed of having. To be honest, his admittance made me angry.
"You shouldn't even be alive! How have you still not surrendered to God? Really? You got us to where we are now, and you still think you can fix this on your own?!? Ugh."
I wish I could tell you that shortly after this conversation he had a huge, life-changing epiphany, but he didn't. Over the next year, things continued to get worse. Looking back, I can see God in those months- pursuing, positioning and protecting us. It was during that time God used the bad situations to develop my husband's heart. It was all of a sudden, completely out of nowhere, the beginning of a breakthrough I didn’t even see coming!
Just because our loved ones aren't where we want them to be spiritually right now, doesn't mean they never will be. The uncomfortable time spent in waiting isn't wasted time, it's valuable time. God is working in our waiting.
Look at Saul, for example:
"Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything."
-Acts 9:1-9 (NIV)
I'm sure Saul was pretty shocked when Jesus spoke directly to him. He wanted nothing to do with Jesus and was ready to kill anyone who followed Him. That's some serious hate right there! But in his desperation to see again, He prayed, and Jesus sent Ananias to restore his sight.
Like people that struggle with addiction, Saul was broken. It took a desperate situation to get him to submit to God, but with desperation comes humility. And with humility and submission to Christ, anyone, and I mean ANYONE, can be transformed!
“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
"At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah."
-Acts 9:13-22 (NIV)
Addiction blinds our loved ones from the life God wants for them... literally. It consumes all their thoughts.
Loving someone who struggles with an addiction breaks your heart. We watch our loved ones crawl out of the hole they fell into only to jump right back in. It's difficult to watch them suffer because we love them, so we pray and beg God to save them. We spin on the wheel with them waiting for the next crash, hoping God will intervene before we come to the next painful, abrupt stop. We do everything we can to help them, but we aren’t who they need.
Breaking their fall was never our job.
Addiction recovery is usually multi-dimensional, but the Great Physician knows exactly what our loved ones need. Sometimes, the trials our loved ones endure are natural consequences of poor decisions but it can be these natural consequences that peel back the layers allowing them to finally seek true recovery.
James 1:2 tells us to rejoice in trial because a trial tests and strengthens our faith. Even when we feel like God has left us high and dry, rest assured, He left us there for a reason. Sometimes, “high and dry,” is the safest place to be.
I can happily report my husband now knows the love of Christ. He doesn’t only say it, I can see it. He's turned his life over to God and is learning how to live a life that brings glory to His Savior.
I couldn't be more amazed and in awe of the miracle I've watched unfold before my very own eyes.
Even if he relapses, I know He's fighting this battle with an angel army. We owe it all to Him, our Heavenly Father that gives us more grace than we could ever deserve.