We watched her fight it for a long time and the helplessness was overwhelming to all who loved her.
I spoke with her grieving parents and her father uttered the hopeless words of “I tried everything. Everything. I don’t know what more I could have done.”
In fact, it was a common theme laced throughout conversations during her visitation: “I wish I could have done more.”
My friend struggled with alcoholism and alcoholism is indeed a disease – it’s not a choice.
Those who don’t struggle with this disease want to grab those who do by the shoulders, shake them hard and say “Just stop!”
If only it were this simple.
Addiction holds it’s captive with such a strong grip it’s like trying to escape from Alcatraz – it can be done but it’s gonna be hard and there are sharks waiting for you to fail.
But those of us who love and have loved addicts . . . we ask ourselves what more we could have done to make them stop.
The answer? Sadly, not much.
Yes, we can be there for them and offer encouragement. Yes, we can show them our unconditional love. Yes, we can cloak the truth in love. Yes, we can call and check-in and go for dinner and send encouraging messages.
You can be the best darn friend/wife/daughter/sister/brother/son/mother/father/aunt/uncle the world’s ever seen.
Yet unfortunately, in the end, there’s just One who has the power to heal sickness of this magnitude.
And I’m not suggesting professional treatment isn’t worth it – someone left a comment last week expressing he was tired of people always pointing to the church as a cure-all for afflictions such as addiction and I understand what he’s saying.
God put people on this earth to have a heart for those struggling with addiction and they are invaluable but in the end, it’s up to the addict.
There’s a story about a man on top of a roof waiting for help while his town was flooding. He prayed and asked God to save him. Someone with a rowboat came along and offered to help him but he said “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”
Soon after, someone with a motorboat passed by the man and told him to jump in. Again, the man answered, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”
And soon after this, a helicopter flew overhead and the pilot lowered down a rope for him to climb to safety. Again, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”
Eventually, the man drowned.
When he reached heaven, the man asked God “I had faith in you! Why didn’t you save me?”
To which God answered, “I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?”
God sends us rowboats, motorboats, and helicopters through trained professionals who can offer their help in combination with pressing in to Him as well.
Yet sometimes He doesn’t heal in the way we want Him to heal. Sometimes His idea of healing an addict is making her whole and complete by bringing her back home to Him.
And it’s horrid for those left behind. So absolutely horrid.
But when enough is enough and the suffering has become too great and the hopelessness sinks, there are times in which He decides we just can’t go through anymore and with great mercy, brings the one struggling to where struggles no longer exist.
While some may say this isn’t what a good God would do, I say the opposite: it’s precisely what a good God, filled with mercy and grace, would do.
It breaks His heart to watch it happen because that addict? It’s His love. His son or daughter. His beloved. His fearfully and wonderfully made masterpiece.
When it comes to that point, the point where enough is enough . . . He mercifully reaches for the afflicted and covers with His feathers, providing refuge with His mighty wings.
Yes, mercy and grace indeed.
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. – Psalm 91:4 (NIV)
He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. – Psalm 91:4 (NLT)