Saturday, February 15, 2014

You Can Be Free of Addiction!

One of the most difficult trials that we face in this life is that of addiction.  I do not speak of specific addictions, but I speak to any of those who have addictions of any kind.  I believe it is true that no one else knows quite exactly what it is that you are going through.  However, there are others that have gone through (or are still going through) the same addiction that you are.  In that sense, these people can be a great strength in trying to help get out of addiction.

Fortunately for all of us, there was a man who lived in the Meridian of time that knew (and knows) exactly what it is that we go through, whatever our problem.  Of course, this person is the Savior Jesus Christ.  He is called the Savior for a reason.  Because of his Atonement performed for all of us, if we go to him and use his grace when we can't do everything ourselves, he will literally save us from our afflictions - even addiction.

How Can Christ Help Us?
Now, maybe you wonder how he can know exactly what we go through if he lived 2,000 years ago, and lived a perfect life, committing no sin.  True, you may say, he suffered in Gethsemane, but does he really know what my problem is like?  C.S. Lewis, the famous Christian writer, gave the following insight.  (For our current purpose, I suggest replacing the word "temptation" with "addiction.")

"No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.  A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means.  This is an obvious lie.  Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is.  ... You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down.  A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. ... We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight against it:  and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means."

It is true that Jesus never gave into temptation, and was therefore never trapped by an addiction, but it is because of this that he understands just how strong the temptation is.  Never in his life did Satan stop trying to tempt him.  At times the father of lies used the Jewish leaders to tempt Christ, at times he used those that knew Him, at other times he used other dark spirits, and the devil even resorted to tempting the Lord himself.

Alma, an ancient prophet, taught that Christ would suffer "pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains...of his people. He will take  upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities."  (Alma 7:11-12, italics added.)

Overcoming Weakness Through Grace
We can go to the Savior to be clean of addiction.  The Lord told another ancient prophet:  "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.  I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them" (Ether 12:27).

This scripture teaches us that the Lord knows we have these weaknesses, but they do not always have to be a part of our lives.  God does not see our addictions as a part of our soul, but something our soul needs to overcome to be stronger.  "Our destiny is not determined by the number of times we stumble but by the number of times we rise up, dust ourselves off, and move forward."  (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "You Can Do It Now!")

The Lord told Ether that his "grace is sufficient" for all of those that come unto him.  How can we use God's grace?  First, we must do all that we can ourselves, by following the commandments of God, by using the tools and strength of people around us to do all that we have the power to do, prayerfully.  And then, when we have done our all, the Lord will make up for what we cannot do.  The promise is there in the scriptures, that if we approach God humbly through prayer, after doing all that we can do, then he will make our weakness, our addiction, a strength for us - we will no longer be caught in the pain of it.

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