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Question

 

Gramps,

How can the Lord help someone overcome an addiction if they’ve already tried everything?

David

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Answer

 

Dear David,

I’m sorry that you are struggling with the issue of addiction-whether your own or that of a loved one. While you didn’t mention what kind of addiction you are talking about, it’s obvious that our country is dealing with a serious addiction problem. Tragically, it’s become impossible to read the news and not hear about the ongoing drug abuse crisis in our society. It’s also much too common to hear stories about the destructive use of alcohol from our friends and families. Whatever issue it is that you are talking about I hope and pray that you or the person suffering from it gets the help they desperately need.

Like many other words in our culture, the word “addiction” is often overused and misunderstood. We are quick to label any bad habit as an “addiction” without really understanding how loaded that word is. The blunt truth is that sometimes people mistake “bad habit” for “addiction”. If someone uses foul language from time to time, we might say they are “addicted” to it even though that’s far from the truth. The word “addiction” is also sometimes used by addicts to diminish their own responsibility for their actions. Both times, we are using the word wrong. So we need to be extremely careful when we use that word.

Your question of “Why doesn’t the Lord doesn’t fix people who are suffering from addiction” is a question that has been asked many, many times throughout the years.  Many experts in addiction believe that addiction is a disease, and instead of asking why the Lord doesn’t cure an addiction, we have all heard someone ask why the Lord didn’t cure the cancer that a loved one was dealing with, or why He didn’t cure the HIV infection from a newborn baby. The answer is, “We don’t know.” In the short term it’s an extremely frustrating answer. Humans like having a black or white answer to their question and don’t like being left in the dark. Interestingly many, many people have had their faith strengthened after watching a loved one suffering from a terminal disease or after a beloved child loses a battle with addiction. Faith, like doubt and questioning can sometimes operate in very strange ways.

In 1972 at General Conference, Elder Marion D. Hanks related this story:

A youngster was assigned by his father to see to the moving of a large rock. He tugged and pushed, and he lifted and struggled without avail. Some friends were enlisted, but together they could not move it. Reluctantly he reported to his father that he could not budge the rock.

 

“Have you done all you could?” asked the father.

 

“Yes,” said the little boy.

 

“Have you tried everything?” persisted the father.

 

“Yes,” said the boy. “I’ve tried everything.”

 

“No, son, you haven’t,” said his dad. “You haven’t asked me.”

David, I’m sorry that we couldn’t give you a more direct answer. If someone you love is struggling with a sincere addiction it is best to seek out medical and professional help as soon as possible. Their life might be in danger.

Remember the story of Alma?  Alma and his people were being persecuted by the Lamanites.  It went on for quite a while, until eventually they were even forbidden to pray:

Mosiah 24:12-15  And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.

 

13 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.

 

14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

 

15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.

It’s important to note that their burdens weren’t taken way – they still had to do the hard work required of them.  Also, the Lord didn’t immediately end their trial.  But the Lord strengthened them to endure the trial, to not give up.  In the case of addition, the hard work and professional help are still required, but if we will do our part, not give up, and continually see the Lord’s help, he will strengthen us in our efforts.

There are many things in life we don’t understand-and sadly, the sufferings and afflictions of our human condition seem to be one of them. Whatever issues you or your loved ones are dealing with, it’s important to remember to rely on the mercy and love of our Heavenly Father. One day, when we return to Him, all of our greatest pains and conflicts down here will be washed away. We are praying for you.

 

Gramps

 

 

 

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