As alcoholics and addicts we have a duty to the Body of Christ — and this is that we not become stumbling blocks to others in our fellowship. We need to be careful of our behavior first (to remain sober always, if possible) but also to be sensitive to when and with whom we fraternize.
“But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.”
1 Corinthians 5:11
To some, deliverance from compulsions (drinking, drugging, … etc.) comes immediately or quickly upon conversion.
Others suffer for years. Still others never experience freedom. What’s going on? Why doesn’t God heal every wound when we ask?
“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” 2 Corinthians 12:7
As Gods will for us in life unfolds, we begin to understand not only the purpose he has for us, but the defects in our character that He most needs us to guard against. In some cases, the presence of an affliction will remain simply so that we never regain confidence in ourselves.
“Three times I pleaded with Him to take it (the thorn) away. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9
It’s evident, that some will be left to suffer. But God will not abandon even the least of his children. If you have asked Jesus into your life, you are one of His. There is no going back. God promises to keep us. This is despite a messy struggle in life. An ongoing struggle with addiction will not keep us from our Christian walk — and this is the point.
“For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing.” Romans 7:19
Once having embarked as a Saved one of Christ — despite the events we endure, we must keep on keeping on. Repent, cry out! Get up, dry out, take a few more steps.
Over time, the Lord changes us from the inside out. If deliverance from affliction didn’t happen when we first called on the Lord, then it will happen later in this life. Or finally it will be gone when we go home to Him.
As we devote ourselves to the details of our relationship with Christ — persistently repenting and moving forward — we may find ourselves suffering judgement from church leadership. This is the hard part — we must accept it and carry on. If we are asked not to attend services, try another church. Or listen on the radio. Avoid bitterness, anger and resentment. Instead, let’s love and respect our brother for doing the difficult thing of confronting us. His duty is to protect his flock. If the elder who casts you out enjoys doing it, you were in the wrong place to start with!
The Lord has made a harder path for some alcoholics and addicts — and on this path is something of great value. The thorn is given to us for a reason. Rejoice!