Monday, October 23, 2017

Self-Ministry vs Self-Medication

"Now I understand why people take drugs," I said to David the Sunday afternoon following Hope's burial and memorial service on Saturday. Honestly, I had never understood it before, because I had never felt that much pain before. And now the pain I felt was consuming, and I just wanted it to go away. So that Sunday afternoon I went to bed hoping to sleep it away. But that day, and in the days that followed, I discovered I couldn't sleep it away, eat it away, drink it away, shop it away, travel it away, or busy it away. I just had to feel it. And it hurt. Physically.

I had to do my best to confront my pain with the truth of God's Word, to comfort myself with the promises of God. But the pull toward self-medication rather than self-ministry is strong when we are tempted, discouraged, angry, guilty, or sad, and most of us have never learned how to minister to ourselves. In our pain we turn too quickly to the telephone or the bottle or some other quick but ineffective fix. Even though we may say we believe Jesus is the answer, we often turn to earthly idols to meet our needs. So we must learn how to minister to ourselves. When we sense our spirits beginning to sink, when the pulse of pain awakens a desire that demands to be placated, we need to reject any and all lesser comforts than Christ alone. We must choose to cover ourselves with his kindness. We have to remind ourselves of his promises. Jesus, you understand what pain feels like. You are here with me to comfort me and empower me. I can enjoy you right now and welcome your peace and your presence. You are doing good things in my life even with the hurt I am feeling. This is self-ministry in place of self-medication. And it is the only always-available remedy for the ache in our souls.

Do you feel the pull of the bottle or the refrigerator or the mall or the television or the computer screen, offering you numbness to the pain? Will you reject the invitation of idols and accept the invitation God holds out for you? Will you bring him your pain and hide yourself in him, nestling close to his heart, finding your solace in him alone?

~From The One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie, page 310

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