I am about to do a new thing;
Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert
We are pausing from our current sermon series Defying Gravity this week to remember our calling to be people of recovery and restoration. We are always able to encourage healing and wholeness in everyone we meet. The statistics around addiction, particularly to opioids including prescription painkillers and heroin, are staggering. If you’d like to learn more about how we got here, this National Institute of Health page presents the facts clearly, reminding us that today over 115 people will die from these addictions. With numbers like these it’s no wonder this pain has touched so many.
This obituary of a thirty year old woman from Vermont shares one family’s loss with dramatic clarity. I recommend reading through it in its entirety, but this paragraph is particularly arresting:
It is impossible to capture a person in an obituary, and especially someone whose adult life was largely defined by drug addiction. To some, Maddie was just a junkie — when they saw her addiction, they stopped seeing her. And what a loss for them. Because Maddie was hilarious, and warm, and fearless, and resilient. She could and would talk to anyone, and when you were in her company you wanted to stay. In a system that seems to have hardened itself against addicts and is failing them every day, she befriended and delighted cops, social workers, public defenders and doctors, who advocated for and believed in her ’til the end. She was adored as a daughter, sister, niece, cousin, friend and mother, and being loved by Madelyn was a constantly astonishing gift.
What can we do? As Christians we believe in the promise of new birth, new life, and new beginnings, of new water springing forth in any desert. We must pray and work to see all people as capable of recovery, breaking down harmful stigmas and shame cycles which only lead to relapses and further suffering.
We will continue to pray toward this healing Sunday. Please share your own stories of addiction, recovery, loss, and hope with your friends, family, and church in the days ahead so we can seek to better understand how to bring more of the light of Christ to our neighbors in need.
Grace and Peace,