Editor’s Note: Seth Haines was in the hospital with his wife, planning funeral songs for their not-yet two-year-old, when he made a very conscious decision: this was the last day he wanted to feel. That evening, he asked his sister to smuggle in a bottle of gin, and gave in to addiction. In Coming Clean, Seth Haines writes a raw account of his first 90 days of sobriety, illuminating how to face the pain we’d rather avoid, and even more importantly, how an abiding God meets us in that pain. Seth shows us that true wholeness is found in facing our pain and anxieties with the tenacity and tenderness of Jesus, and only through Christ’s passion can we truly come clean.
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This morning, I read the fourth and fifth chapters of Luke. There is Jesus. Do you see Him? He is there to proclaim good news to the poor, liberty to the captives, recovery to the blind and those who are oppressed. Do you see Him? There He is healing the man with the demon, healing Simon’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14-15). There He is healing the leper and the paralytic (Matthew 8:1-3; Matthew 9:1-8). He is the cure personified.
I’ve been sober for almost one month, but I still feel the creeping sickness. It’s hiding in me, as if under a rock. I can feel the house-burning nerves. I still crave the drink. I think about liquor less, but still often. Sometimes I consider that if a tragedy occurred — if Amber died or I lost my job — I would have the perfect excuse to turn a bottle up. Could anyone blame me? And though these fantasies of drinking myself through tragedy are abating, I still have them. There is no complete relief.
I am a man of unslaked thirsts.
Today, I decide I’m finished with feeling like a fraud. I ask for the coming of real freedom: Liberate me! Heal me! Give me good news!
As sure as I ask for liberation, I am swept into the cave, and I feel the flames. There is the faith healer. There is the sickly me of anemic faith. All relics that remind me that my best prayers for healing have only ever gone unanswered — at least, so it feels. My tongue burns; the heat in this house fire of a cave brings everything to a blistering point. Here is the need to see an upward trend in Titus’s growth chart. Here is the reminder that the far side of the river I most hope for is wholly outside my reach.
The heat is sickening, and I want my escape hatch.
I want escape from these thoughts and from the supposed safety of drink.
This is what it means to face the pain, and if you were to ask me how I feel in the quickening moments, I’d tell you that I feel abandoned, empty, sick. I feel false, a lay minister adept at the forms and structures of a Christlike faith, but lacking in power.
There are hollow prayers I’ve considered not worth uttering. Today, I’ll pray them.
Liberate me! Heal me! Give me good news!
At first, my requests for relief only rattle and echo in my stomach. So I ask again and I hear. What? The coming of something quiet?
I am the Lord your God; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
I hear a smaller voice too, a younger one. I tune my ears with the faith of my five-year-old self in his mesquite sanctuary, the boy before the wrecked mechanics of a well-meaning, systematized adulthood.
He is the Lord your God. These other things — they are mirages.
Yes. I hear this fresh.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Make me unafraid to pray for healing.
Watch the Video for Coming Clean
Excerpted with permission from Coming Clean: A Story of Faith by Seth Haines, copyright Seth Haines.
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Maybe choosing addiction to alcohol to try to numb pain is not your story. But most of us can relate to suffering so much that we have to come face to Face with our questions about God and the pain of this world and the ways we try to cope that push Him away. Today we can pray along with Seth, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. No matter what our circumstances are, He is with us and will never forsake us. Meditate on that for a moment. In what areas of your life is God calling you to pray Liberate me! Heal me! Give me good news! Come share with us on our blog. We want to hear from you about seeking God in the middle of hardship. ~ Devotionals Daily