Two people whom I admire very much are hard-working advocates for addiction recovery. One is in her thirties, and is a recovered drug and alcohol addict. She has turned her life completely around, owns a fitness studio, and produces an addiction recovery podcast that aims to help others recover as well. (Check out Chasing Heroine) The other is a former High School chum who has fought hard to be sober for several decades. His encouragement to other alcoholics to join AA, combined with his own personal testimony, has made him an effective witness to the recovery movement. These two people inspire me and I pray for their continued recovery all the time. They both post under #wedorecover, and every time I see that hashtag, I am compelled to pray for everyone who is working to overcome the illness of addiction. If this is you, congratulations, and know that many people are rooting for you and are proud of you.
Our Psalm today puts recovery in a focused spotlight. The psalmist is recovering from some life-destroying illness or injury, and he lifts his weary head up to offer praise and thanksgiving for God’s intervention.
Psalm 116 (New Revised Standard Version)
1 I love the Lord, because he has heard
my voice and my supplications.
2 Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
4 Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I pray, save my life!”
Sheol is an Old Testament concept of a type of hell, a place where people went when they died. It is a word for the abode of the dead. Most scholars think that it is derived from a word meaning hollow. To the Hebrew mind, Sheol was a place of destruction and utter desolation. It was believed that Sheol was located deep down in the earth, as hell is often thought of today.
I don’t know a single person who has struggled with addiction who hasn’t experienced Sheol.
5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
our God is merciful.
6 The Lord protects the simple;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
7 Return, O my soul, to your rest,
for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
8 For you have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling.
9 I walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.
What are you recovering from today? Do you have an addiction? Have you been sick? Suffering from COVID? Dealing with a failed marriage? Trying to pick yourself up from unemployment/disappointment/family estrangements/your own stupidity?
You are not alone. We are all trying to recover from something. So as you struggle, remember this: God will deliver you. He will walk beside you. He protects you and he will save you, but you have to call on the name of the Lord. ”Oh Lord, I pray, save my life!” Say this, and he will flee to you.
Thanks be to God.