Cravings, Rituals, and Temporary Relief

“And call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” 

– Psalm 50:15

Yesterday, we discussed the second step in the addiction cycle as we continued our journey with Joe, a fictional alcoholic who lashed out at his children while intoxicated, felt ashamed of his behavior, swore to not do it again, and then had a misunderstanding with his wife in the midst of his earnest effort to win back her love. Unfortunately, his fight with her was an emotional trigger that heightened his desire to drink, which led him to the third step in the cycle, a craving, and that craving drove him to take part in a ritual, which is the fourth step. After the ritual, he enjoyed temporary relief, the fifth step, until his familiar friend shame paid him another visit and the cycle came full circle. 

After going to bed angry at his wife and waking up with a craving for a drink that was stronger than ever, Joe goes to work feeling totally downcast and discouraged. On his way home, he decides to take part in a familiar ritual in the hopes of finding some comfort, so he drives by his favorite bar. He thinks to himself, I’m not going to get out of the car, I’m just going to stop by and say hello to the guys outside. Of course, once he arrives, he is welcomed with open arms and invited to come in and see everyone else. Initially he refuses, telling the guys that he’s done drinking and is getting his life back in order. However, they convince him, and once he puts his foot in the door, he feels the acceptance he’s been craving for the past couple of weeks, which provides temporary relief. Within a few minutes the bartender slaps a beer down in front of him and says, “Joe, this one’s on the house — we’ve missed you.” Even though he tells the bartender that’s he’s quit, his friends egg him on and say, “Go ahead Joe. One beer won’t hurt you.” That’s all it takes and before long, one beer turns to eight. When he leaves that night, Joe is slobbering drunk. As he steps through the door back at home, his wife is ice cold and doesn’t even say hello. When he sobers up in the morning, he feels terrible, so his old friend shame comes to visit him yet again, and the cycle repeats. 

Friend, the biggest problem for Joe and for many of us is that we don’t believe we are worthy of love and belonging as long as we are battling addiction or some other compulsive behavior. If we have habitual struggle in our lives, we dismiss ourselves and minimize our value until that “magic someday” when we finally get our act together. However, this is not the way God wants us to live! You see, you cannot white knuckle your way to wholeness; you must let love in before you can experience any lasting change. Your worth is just as great today as it will be a year from now, whether free from addiction or in the thick of it. Jesus loves you magnificently and your worth to Him is greater than all the treasures of the earth. Let that sink in and your life will be changed! 


Jesus, I am grateful that I don’t have to have my act together in order to be completely loved by you. I receive more of you in my life today, and I trust that you will deliver me from the things that cause me to feel helpless. You alone have the power.


Are you caught in the cycle of addiction? How do you feel when you consider that you are just as loved now as you would be if you were perfect? 

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