Bible-Themed Addiction Recovery for the week of April 17
Exodus 13:17 – “And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not by the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said: ‘Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt.’”
God understood that the Israelites, so recently freed from slavery, might not be able to handle an abrupt confrontation with the Philistines that could result from taking a direct route from Egypt to the Land of Israel. This part of the Exodus story is rich with symbolism for our daily lives and struggle with recovery and addiction. We can learn from this verse that sometimes, it is wise to take an indirect approach to our worst problems, take baby steps and build our strength. If we take the plunge prematurely, we may suffer a backlash and find ourselves in worse trouble than before we started. For example, let’s say you drank over resentment that you felt you were owed a raise at work. Then, newly sober, you decide to barge into your boss’s office and demand a raise – that would not be good sober behavior. The result, in fact, might be a reaction that could lead you right back to the bottle. Instead, a wise approach might be to carefully plan a request for a raise, working with a sponsor to understand the most effective way to approach the situation. Or, perhaps even more importantly, learn to trust God to guide you on the right path to confronting the problem. This is the lesson of Exodus 13:17.
Bible -Themed Addiction Recovery for the Week of April 10th Exodus 10:7 – “And Pharaoh’s servants said unto him: ‘How long shall this man be a snare unto us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God, knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?’”
The people surrounding Pharaoh grow weary of the incessant plagues and the inability of their leader to grasp what is really going on. “How long shall this man be a snare unto us?” they ask Pharaoh. The answer, evidently, was “forever.” If you have ever lived through a loved one’s addiction, this syndrome may be sadly familiar. The addict will continue to pursue his or her way of solving problems no matter how disastrous the results. We may plead with the addict, “How long can you go on like this?” and the answer always seems to be “forever.” There is no changing an addict’s mind, until some kind of bottom is reached. Often, that is too late, for bottoms may result in divorce, incarceration, or death. The correct answer to, “How long shall this man be a snare?” or “How long will you continue with your insanity?” should be, “Until I recognize that God has a plan for me and I am not following it.” It is only when we surrender, and accept that God has a plan for us, and that our plan is not the way to solve our problems, that we will begin to experience sobriety and serenity. And, for those loved ones close to us who pray for us to change, the surrender will be the only way to help them get the serenity that they want as well.
Pharaoh acts like an alcoholic. No matter how bad things get, he doesn’t listen. Like an alcoholic who will not admit that he has a problem, even after the kind of unceasing series of disasters that only an alcoholic can experience, Pharaoh will not change his mind. His heart is hardened. Of course, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart too, but it was a pretty hard heart to begin with.
This verse can open our eyes to the ways that addiction destroys our lives through the power of denial. How many wrecked cars, arrests, divorces, arguments, job losses, and so on, will it take before our hearts become less hardened to the reality of our addiction? Like Pharaoh, we have all white knuckled our way through crisis after crisis, blaming others for our problems and refusing to acknowledge the truth – that we are the ones at fault. This verse tells us to wake up and soften our hearts, to hear the truth at long last.