The urge to write this post has come unbidden to my mind so frequently in recent days that I believe it is God’s idea. So I’m doing as I’ve been told.
I’m writing to call for prayer, specifically, prayer for God’s intervention against the scourge of drug abuse.
We are all affected in one way or the other—relationally, emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually. Even if you don’t know anyone who is addicted; even if you’ve never felt the tug between helping and hurting; even if you’ve never lain awake, crying dark and bitter tears, or stood beside a casket with your insides cauterized by anger at your own powerlessness and the senseless tragedies that drug abuse causes—even if you cannot draw a straight line between yourself and the scourge, you are affected.
Every taxpayer pays the price for health care required by drug abuse and the drain of resources into services for individuals and families falling apart because of unemployment, incarcerations, and violence. Every citizen bears the burden of the diversion of law enforcement and the justice system to drug-related crimes. Addiction is never victimless. Our national tax base cannot possibly serve society equitably when a growing minority absorbs an undue share.
But even if you are not financially affected or if that seems a crass motivation for prayer, obeying God in this effort makes sense otherwise, because every individual is a part of the human race, and when one suffers, all suffer. “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main” (John Donne). None of us can claim never to be a part of the problem and not the solution. One swift glance in the mirror shows us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). So maybe it’s simply a matter of putting oneself right with the rest of humanity. Jesus commands: “Love one another” (John 13:34). Prayer is identification and obedience, and surely it is love.
So today I began praying intentionally and fervently for those who are addicts, those who are becoming addicted, those who are tempted to addiction, and those who are struggling to overcome it. I prayed that God would grant them vision to see the ends of their actions and strength to hold out against temptation; that God would satisfy their cravings with His calm and peace.
I prayed, too, for those who are struggling to love addicts: that God would empower them against enabling, by showing them how their behaviors might stop the cycles of addiction and how their behaviors may encourage addiction by forestalling consequences. I prayed for families and friends suffering from loneliness, poverty, and fear caused by drug abuse—that God would provide their needs and comfort them with His presence.
But my prayers don’t stop there. I feel compelled to pray also for those profiting from drug abuse: not only the ones selling on the street and running crack houses in bad sections of town, but also those who head pharmaceutical companies that aggressively market opioids and other drugs so easily misused. I asked God to speak to them and to doctors heedlessly over-prescribing addictive drugs, to convict them of the evil resulting from their behaviors, whether legal or not. Bring them to their knees, I prayed, and after their repentance, give them strength to change through the power of Your Holy Spirit, transforming them from the business of death to a love of life.
I prayed today for first responders—paramedics, firefighters, police officers, medical professionals in emergency rooms and trauma centers, rehab specialists. I thanked God for each and every one, and asked that He strengthen them and grant them patience and hope as they battle what seems like a swelling tide and an endless river.
And lastly I prayed with wider horizons—for politicians and for the public at large. That we the people would call for and vote for funding for rehab research and programs, effective innovations in law enforcement and justice, improved opportunities for employment and education, and public policies that affirm the worth of every human being.
Perhaps the gift of God in all this is that drug abuse is not a racial problem nor a problem exclusive to one socio-economic class. It forces us to acknowledge our common humanity, our self-insufficiency, and our utter dependence on the One who is greater than we. Therefore, the call to prayer. As the old Gospel song says, “When we have exhausted our store of endurance, when our strength has failed ere the day is half done, when we reach the end of our hoarded resources, our Father’s full giving is only begun.” May it be so.