Physical and emotional addictions start from the same place: emptiness. Even when our lives are full of positive experiences, we can still feel empty. Our souls long for more. We want something that satisfies us and overpowers the dark realities of an imperfect world. But in our effort to avoid the shadows, we often fall into pits of self-destruction and find only more darkness. Our instinctual response to those pits is to accept them. Whether we see it in ourselves or someone else, we think that once the falling begins, the slope is too slippery to stop. But that isn't what God says. No matter how far we fall, He can lift us back up. That doesn't mean God will do all the work without our willingness; it means He will carry our burdens and provide the tools we need to start fresh. When we look at God's Word, we can see His guidance applies even to our modern and complicated struggles.
God's response to addiction is always love. He sent Jesus to redeem us from our sins and show us how to live in grace and truth. Through the life and death of Jesus, we can see that love was His go-to. When we follow Him, we love others and ourselves. The Bible tells us to hate sin but love the sinner; and that includes ourselves. There is a big difference between selfishness and self-love. Selfishness leads us away from God and toward things that provide short-term comfort. When we love ourselves, we believe in God's love for us and trust in His presence. Sometimes we are so worn down from our harmful habits, that we think we are unworthy of God’s grace. But it’s precisely in these moments when we need to lean on Him most. Even when we think we are too "messy" and broken, we are worthy. Jesus came to save the lost, and the first step to finding our way is to realize we are never too far gone. The world defines us by our weakness, but God will always offer strength in Him.
"Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." - Mark 2:17
We see the damaging repercussions of addiction in powerful sources such as drugs and alcohol. Once we open ourselves up to mind-altering substances or other dangerous habits, our bodies are vulnerable to physical addiction that we can't cure through willpower. Don't listen to anyone who tells you that you should just "push through" your addiction if you have faith. There are real medical effects, and God wants us to use the resources available to care for our health.
Even "good" things can harm us when we aren't self-aware. For me, the culprit is caffeine. It's something that can have positive and healthy effects in balanced doses. However, once it becomes a dependency, it's hard to find energy without it. The source is not always the problem; addiction is a sin because it distracts us from Jesus. "Jesus drank wine" is not an excuse for drunkenness. But it does show us that it's okay to enjoy indulgences in moderation. It's our responsibility to draw the line. The two questions we should ask are: 1. Will this hurt my body or mind? 2. Will this draw me away from God? When food, entertainment, relationships, or anything else becomes an escape from reality, we lose sight of who we are. The results lead to shame, but that is not the way out.
In our darkest corners, God provides a door to freedom. In the times when we trap ourselves in self-loathing, it can seem impossible to rise up. At those points, God tells us to seek help. He doesn't expect us to solve our problems through prayer alone. We have pathways when we pursue support from loved ones, professionals, or helpful tools. No matter what your addiction is or how long you have fought it, there is a way to overcome it. If you don't know where to start, turn to Jesus. His mercy covers every temptation we face.
"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." - 1 Corinthians 10:13
To live like Jesus, we need to walk away from evil and toward change. Growth doesn't happen overnight, and the more we learn to forgive ourselves, the more we can overcome the shame of the past. As we move forward and leave shame behind, we find fulfillment in God's purpose for us. The setbacks don't dictate where we go. Day by day, we can make choices that draw us closer to Him. It's easy to read "God is stronger than your struggles" and think that's a cure-all that ignores the complexities of the real world. God loves us no matter what, but to reflect that love, we need to choose actions of love. All your problems won't go away the minute you trust in Jesus, but He will make you whole. When we make moves that follow Him, there is less room for emptiness and more space for light.
"The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light." - Romans 13:12
If you are struggling, we have a place for you at Sun Valley. Join others at one of our Care and Recovery groups, and feel free to reach out for support.
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.