Is It Misfortune or Simply a Complete Mess Up?

Jack* was a man we ministered to over twenty three years ago. He was constantly in and out of jail for various crimes. He lived with his mother and tried to take care of her (whenever he was not in jail). Each time he came out of jail or out of some major trouble with the law, he would call and we would get together and talk. I would pray intently for him and he would cry as the Holy Spirit came over him bringing conviction. He badly wanted to overcome his drug and alcohol habits which were the ultimate things that separated him and his wife. He wished he could watch his children grow up through each stage in life. But with his numerous addictions, that just wasn’t possible.

Getting a job also seemed impossible for him. Seeing his blood-shot eyes and piercing gaze would put fear in most people, much less give him a job. Long gaps in his work history gave way to questions he struggled to answer. But eventually he would tell of his prison sentence – and thus the end of the interview and opportunity for the job as well.

It still remains a challenge for me to know how to deal with such people who struggle to get a basic grip on life. We know what they really need – complete freedom from their addictions and a lasting stability. But that’s what they’ve wanted all these years. And that’s what we’ve been trying to help them with as well. But how do we get them from here to there?

The hindrances for these people are numerous. They are often interconnected with a circle of friends whose basic paradigm of life revolves around escaping the troubles of life. Time and time again they struggle to make meaning of their lives. But with a lack of hope and meaning, they gravitate towards others with a similar perspective on life.

But “shouldn’t they just get their act together like everyone else?” First of all, I’m not sure how many of us really have our “act together.” Often, the primary difference between those who struggle with addictions and those who don’t may not be much. My response to problems may be the type that can easily be hidden from others. But for these, their response becomes visible for everyone to see.

We need to adopt the basic understanding that we are all on a journey through life. As a fellow traveler, we need to be patient and understanding towards those who struggle with various addictions. That understanding will be the first step towards healing.

No one is too far gone for God to reach them and to transform their lives. There is always hope. With sufficient regular support and backup, they can overcome their addictions.

Yes, I have seen the occasional miraculous transformation where the power of God does an immediate and complete work. And the person is completely delivered from their addictions. But often, the need is great for an understanding community that will walk with this person to complete freedom.

*Name changed for privacy

Please share your comments here.

Photo by Casey Serin – Creative Commons


  1. Yes, it is indeed a deep struggle in those of who are called to help others when we see people with various addictions and that fact that they know the solution. We do not have to say much as they know the answer for the problem. Then often I cry out to God for His intervention.

  2. I do appreciate the fact that there are people out there that the Lord has given a burden to for “all” souls. I find myself distancing from those who seem too far to connect, but as you said, I too do not have my “act together”. It is a challenge to see the suffering individual through Christ’s eye. This post should be a challenge to all of us. Thanks for sharing.

    • Joseph, thanks for sharing your thoughts and struggles. What you are talking about is certainly a change of perspective. That change happens as we consciously put ourselves in situations where we must deal with people with such struggles. So go ahead and find your place to connect and minister to such people. God is with you.

  3. It seems that more often than not we get stuck in addictions or hurts in life due to unresolved traumas, hurts and failures. I have done my best to help several people who have been stuck in a destructive mindset and have seen little results. Recently we completed a study at our church using the book, “Living From the Heart Jesus gave You” and I have received much needed understanding as to what is needed to get all of us unstuck from our wounds. A healthy, caring community is vital to the healing process. There is nothing greater than the power of the cross but many have stayed in their hurt & confusion due to the lack of a faith filled, honest Christian community.

    • Twila,
      Thanks for your response. I agree with you – the cross makes all the difference, and God has asked us all to be that caring community that exhibits the love and compassion of Christ. Both are essential to helping someone to be free.

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