“Wake up! Wake UP!” yells 5-year-old Tyrell, as he pulls at the sheets of his brother. “Its Christmas! Let’s go see!!”
“It’s still dark. Go back to sleep!” Moans 10-year-old Jordan, suppressing some excitement in favor of a few more minutes in the warm bed.
“Let’s go see if he came!” insists Tyrell, and his brother finally gives in with a knowingly, “Ok. But of course he came.”
What we’re witnessing on this Christmas morning happens to millions of people all year round. The little guy is experiencing joyful expectation or hope that the man in the red suit will deliver the goods, and Jordan has knowing expectation or faith. He has been there, done that, and opened the toys. I hesitate to use a Santa metaphor since so many Christians get tangled up in the naughty or nice list thoughts of trying to achieve God’s love, which we ought to know is an ego-driven lie. I wince as I watch my own children use Santa to control the behavior of my grandchildren, but they do it (like I did) because it works and is easy.
Some people use the words faith and hope interchangeably, but as Christians, we know (or at least should know) that they are different. Let’s explore briefly the difference and how it might apply to a person with an addiction seeking freedom.
Hope has been chosen as the Christian value to accompany step 2, because early in the recovery process, we may still be hesitant to acknowledge God’s ability or desire to remove our ability to use our drug of choice. We’ve tried and failed so many times on our own, that a twinge of doubt tugs at the corner of our mind. The thought that “Maybe, because of all the bad stuff I’ve done, I’m not worthy of God’s love.” is almost universal. God’s “naughty list” a lie trying to get you to behave. It’s easy, and often it works.
God does not love you only if you are good. God loves you always because He is good.
So, we enter into this early sobriety elated. We quit poisoning our body and our soul, begin to realign our will with that of our Father, and start to see that sobriety can feel great. Some people call this “the pink cloud” phase of sobriety and we feel more alive and experiencing joyful expectation or hope.
Ultimately, life continues to happen, and we get the difficulties that everyone else does. In John 16:33, Jesus promises us that “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” He is modeling faith to us. With a little bit of discipline, by now you should be developing the tools of taking your difficulties daily to God in prayer, and learning to discuss your problems and fears with some one else, like a friend, a spouse, or your Recovery Partner.
As you experience taking on life’s difficulties without chemicals or unwanted behaviors, but instead, become fully dependent on God and fully interdependent on God’s children to soothe your fears, you develop the knowledge that you can meet life’s challenges sober. Your experience that God has your back moves your hope into the faith category. Life will continue to throw spears and arrows, but by remembering to trust in the Lord with all your heart you develop a mighty “shield of faith” – and it works.
You used to hope it would help, but now you know. That’s faith that works.
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