Thoughts on Joy in Recovery

Mark Verkler

“Short is the joy that guilty pleasure brings.”
‘ Euripides (484 BC – 406 BC)

“Joy is not a substitute for sex, sex is very often a substitute for joy.”
‘ C.S. Lewis (1898 – 1963)

ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES!
We find in Galations 5:22, that Joy is the second fruit of the spirit. It is high on the list of ‘fruit’ that clearly comes from heaven, through the Holy Spirit and to us.

Let’s look at the definition of Joy:

The passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good; pleasurable feelings or emotions caused by success, good fortune, and the like, or by a rational prospect of possessing what we love or desire; gladness; exhilaration of spirits; delight.

Joy is a delight of the mind, from the consideration of the present or assured approaching possession of a good.” ‘ John Locke (1632 – 1704)

Look at a significant part of joy’meditation, consideration, and expectation of future good. This is at the heart of Joy. Not simply a delight that is happening now’though I may rejoice about the present’but, significantly, the prospect and expectation of future good. To overcome the temptation of today, and to enjoy today, I must focus on: the joy that will come tomorrow by saying no to that sin; the joy that will come from all the good that God has for me today and in the future.

We find in Hebrews the power and need for joy for endurance and overcoming. Of Jesus we read ‘Who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame.’ Hebrews 12:2

What are some of the good things that will ‘come tomorrow’ if I say no to sin today? Some things we find from scripture are: reward in heaven, good reputation, clear conscience, peace that comes from not having the fear of being caught.

Another vital part of Joy in Recovery is about coming to the end of my own strength and coming to the beginning of God’s strength. As long as I focus only on what I can do, arrange or manipulate, I can have no lasting joy. When I come to the end of my strength I am at the beginning of God’s.

In 1 Corinthians 12:9 the Lord told Paul that ‘My grace (God’s) is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore I (Paul) will rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may overshadow me.’

I think it seems strange on the surface to consider that I would ‘glory’ in my weakness. However, as I look closer at this I realize that the ‘glory’ is not about me, but about my absolute need for the Lord’s strength and power. As I embrace and acknowledge my weakness I naturally begin to look for strength and power from another source. As the power of Christ ‘overshadows’ me, I begin to find the joy that I could not find while looking to my own strength or my own prospects for the future.

And in James 1:2 we find that James exhorts us to ‘count it joy’ when we fall into temptations. He tells us the trying of our faith works patience. This prospect of giving thanks or rejoicing with temptations seems difficult if not impossible. We must do this by faith and not according to our emotions. The joy seems to be about the good that it will bring to me as I overcome in the strength of the Lord and about the God who is sovereign over all my life and circumstances. I can count that joy.

In Nehemiah 8:10 we find the exhortation that ‘the joy of the Lord is your strength.’ I pray that the Joy of the Lord will be your strength and my strength today and from this day on.

“The joy of a spirit is the measure of its power.” ‘ Ninon de Lenclos (1620 – 1705)

Honesty in Recovery

Clint Thomas

Imagine you are sitting in a group of men. You have been asked to be honest with this group of men and they have been asked to be honest with you. Then the question comes up, have you acted on a desire to masturbate this week? You feel it deep in the pit of your stomach. It’s that urge to bury it, to hide, to play it cool and hope nobody notices you shifting in your seat. You know you need to be honest to get anything out of this group. You’ve even asked them to ask you this question. You just never expected to have to answer with a yes.

This urge to hide is all too familiar. In fact you’ve used this very thing you’re ashamed of, masturbation, to medicate this feeling.

This urge to hide is a naturally occurring urge, which is hard-wired to the emotion of shame. We see this urge acted out in scripture by Adam in Genesis 3:8-10.

When we feel and act on this urge we tend to hide behind a mask we want people to see. Ultimately we don’t believe they would truly accept who we really are. Therefore, we go through life lacking in true intimacy, not being truly known by anyone. As a result of this we begin to feel alone, isolated, and trapped behind that mask. We begin to think thoughts like, I have built my reputation on this mask I wear. If they knew what was underneath it my reputation would be ruined or I will lose my livelihood, family, friends. What we fail to realize is that this mask becomes a prison and blocks us from understanding who we truly are and blocks us from being authentically known by others. We ultimately become isolated and lonely. We truly become as sick as the secrets we keep.

The good news is that God has given us a remedy for this problem. The hard part about this news is that his solution is not easy.

We see the concept of confession first introduced in Genesis 3:11 where God gives Adam the chance to confess his sin. In 1 John 1:9 we read if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness, indicating our need to confess our sins to God. James tells us to confess our sins to each other (5:16). We come to understand from these passages that the prescription for sin and shame is to confess (be honest) to God and others.

One of my favorite examples of confession in scripture is found in John 13:2-10. This passage explains how Jesus washed the feet of the disciples at the Passover Feast. His washing their feet is an example of cleansing their sins and is a metaphor for the way confession works between an individual and his accountability group, accountability partner, or therapist. By confessing our sins honestly we get freedom from the prison of shame and gain a level of intimacy with God and others.

Need some accountability help? See Every Man’s Battle or call 1-800-NEW-LIFE and ask to set an appointment with a New Life Christian coach.

Thoughts on Weariness in Recovery

G. Mike Clark

This last week my wife and I, along with our Bible Study class of forty-three, including children and adolescents, went to the Appalachian Mountains in eastern Kentucky on a mission trip to Solomon’s Porch. This little community of Lynch was once a thriving mining town. If you were to ask the people of Lynch about the recovery of this town they would say, ‘Recovery of what?’ If you are talking about the coalmines and the boom related to that growth, the answer would more than likely be, ‘No’there is no chance of recovery like it once was during the boom time.’

US Steel and International Harvester, as I understand, moved out of the area and closed the mines within the last ten to twelve years. On the other hand, maybe the recovery of this community could be done through drawing small businesses there to strengthen the economy. They have drawn some small businesses into the area, but this alone is not going to recover this small community of Kentucky economically.

Many of those living in the Appalachians are weary.

Webster, 2nd edition, defines weary as without further liking, patience, tolerance, and bored, becoming wearing. Interestingly it also includes in its definition the word drunk. If you were to ask most of those living in this part of the country if they were weary, any of those descriptions would be heard. Many of them have lost any sense of hope in the recovery of their community and have become weary.

In Proverbs 23:4-5, the writer tells us, ‘Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings, like an eagle that flies toward the heavens‘, (NASV).

The kind of recovery needed in this community is spiritual renewal. We are in a spiritual battle. Without spiritual recovery, no amount of economic recovery will make a difference in this community; or any community, or person.

Up to this point, we have been speaking about a small community recovering economically and a sense of weariness that members of that community may have experienced in the past and still experience today. These same kind of issues are experienced in each of us who are in the recovery of sexual addiction, i.e. without further liking, patience, tolerance, and bored, becoming wearing. In addition, one can experience loneliness in the process of recovery whether in a small community or facing sexual addiction.

Loneliness can be crippling to anyone of us in our daily life even during the process of recovery.

As we face any addiction, each of us will experience weariness and loneliness. Isaiah, in chapter 40 verse 31, gives us hope during our pilgrimage. ‘Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.’ Here he gives us hope, strength and endurance to run this race. He goes to say, in chapter 50 verses 4-5, ‘The Lord God has given Me the tongue of disciples. That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word.’ He goes on to say that, God wakes him in the morning; He awakens his ears ‘to listen as a disciple,’ and he was not disobedient, verses 4-5.

There are many references to the word all throughout the Scripture. In the Gospels, Jesus makes references about the word, Matthew 4:4; 7:24; Mark 4:14, 18; Luke 1:2. In John 8:32, Jesus says that truth will set you free.

Two important principles found in Isaiah: listening and obedience. First, are we listening to the truth found in God’s Word? As we listen, how is God’s Word changing our lives and transforming us from the inside out? Listening to God is not just sitting in our comfortable chair. It includes asking God, ‘What are You doing around me and how can I join you?’ Second, are we obedient as we listen to God’s Word? Do we have a teachable heart with listening ears? In the process of recovery, this requires us to look beyond ourselves. If we look only within ourselves, there is not much hope. Through God’s grace working in and through us touching and ministering to others gives us hope and purpose.

As we look to God, we need to reach out to others for help and to help. In recovery, this is where having an accountability partner gives us hope and strength during the good times and the tough times. As brothers in Christ, our mission is to give each other support and encouragement to the other person needing help when weary. We are not alone in this battle, and it takes time to recover. Lastly, Jesus gives us a promise in Matthew 11:28-30, to hang onto daily. It reads as follows…

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light‘, ESV.

This is God’s promise to you and me in the process of recovery during our pilgrimage, and strength to the weary. He will not leave us alone to face life.

For more help see Every Man’s Battle.
Also, please see Being Christian: Exploring Where You, God, and Life Connect.