Sometimes, without context, Scripture can lead us to a conclusions or down a road that very quickly seems to admonish seeking help. God’s love and ultimate plan can lose focus when you put the microscope on a single verse or chapter in the Bible without considering everything else that comes before or after. Even honing in on some red letter words from Jesus without considering what else Jesus said — or the life that Jesus lived and died for us — can lead you astray, so it’s no wonder that many Christians can be left with the impression that seeking help for their addiction or substance abuse disorder might be wrong or unnecessary.
Let’s look at a few verses, how they can be taken out of context to give you the wrong idea about seeking help, and what we believe God really wants for you.
All things through Christ
Philippians 4:13 is a great verse, and it’s a favorite for Christian coffee mugs and t-shirts. It says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” That short statement from Paul says just how much be believes and relies on Jesus, a message that every Christian should be striving to practice. Taking that statement alone, however, we often misinterpret it to believe that we shouldn’t seek help because we need to rely on Jesus – that relying on anything or anyone BUT Jesus would be less-than faithful. But this interpretation discounts completely the fact that God often acts through others, and it also completely removes the sentence from everything else Paul is saying in that chapter.
Right before Paul says he can do all through Jesus — talking in this context about how he has learned to be content through Christ in all circumstances — Paul thanks the Philippians for sending him aid. Right after the statement, he tells the Philippians they have done well to share in his distress. Clearly, Paul is not downplaying either seeking assistance or giving it. He’s saying he’s content in Christ, but that it’s great that these other people, who are following Jesus, are reaching out to help him as Christians ought to do for each other.
God’s mighty power
Ephesians 6:10 is another coffee mug verse. It says “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” This verse begins the famous armor of God sequence in Ephesians, which tells us to arm ourselves with the tools God gives us so that we can follow his will and resist the temptations of the devil. Taken completely alone, this section of Scripture might cause Christians to believe that praying, reading the Bible and other spiritual preparation is all they need to deal with an issue such as substance abuse.
However, the armor of God is spiritual. While faith, prayer and all the other spiritual disciplines are certainly major parts for a faith-based recovery program, if your addiction is also physical in nature, then spiritual armor might not be all the help you need. It’s also true that some things in our life can keep us from putting on the armor of God, leaving us at risk spiritually. Addiction can be one of those things; if you can’t put on the armor of God because of your addiction, then you can’t stand fully on Ephesians 6 to deal with your addiction.
The ever-present help
Yet another one for the t-shirts, Psalm 46:1 tells us that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” But if anyone knows that seeking help isn’t wrong, it’s the psalmist. Whether you’re reading Psalms written by King David or someone else, certain themes emerge. These are people who loved — who adored — the Lord their God. But they are also people who dealt with a wealth of woe while in this world, and sometimes they did so with the help of their friends and supporters. They didn’t seek that help instead of God; they sought that help through and because of God — and the help was given for the same reasons.
Yes, God is bigger than your addiction
The same Psalm, in verses 10 – 11, says “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
Yes, God is bigger than your addiction. But you are not. And you also don’t know how God is acting in your life to be with you and to be your fortress. We believe that God provides a way for his plan to unfold, and we also believe that God acts through people on earth. One reason is so those people can help each other.
It is not wrong to seek help for your addiction. It isn’t putting God on the back burner: it’s seeking help through your faith and through God so you can have a stronger, better future. To find out more about faith-based addiction treatment, call us today.