Occasionally I will be having a conversation with someone I’ve been getting to know, my past will come up, and a surprised “I had to no idea” will pop out.
I guess from the looks of myself, my wife and my family it’s hard to imagine that I was a heroin addict, alcoholic, pothead, porn addict and all around jerk. And all this was just in 2014. I started smoking cigarettes, pot, and drinking sometime before I turned 11 back in 1994. That’s a good chunk of my 35 years on this Earth.
So maybe it’s been 4 years since I went to America’s Keswick Colony of Mercy for the second time, and I’ve had time to clean up and get my life straight. It happens, addicts get sober and life sorts itself out, no surprise.
But… Even when I was in the midst of my addiction you would have been hard-pressed to tell I was using heroin in the bathroom 5 minutes before I met you. Even people who knew me “well” didn’t know except for those I told and sought help from (and praise Jesus for them!).
I went to work, church, small group, and family functions. I showered and kept my appearance acceptable. I was relatively polite to most people….
But inside I was a mess. Inside I was no different from the people selling their bodies for drugs in the city, living on the streets, robbing people just to get a fix. I was lost, broken, empty, and oh so lonely. I’d be in a room full of people and feel completely isolated and alone.
My point is this: WE DON’T KNOW
We don’t know who is struggling with what, especially when it comes to life-dominating sins like addiction to drugs, alcohol, and pornography. That guy in the business suit, sporting the fresh fade and nice car could be snorting up a bundle or two a day. Meanwhile, the woman dressed in shabby clothes, looking like a bum, and smells a little ripe could be just fine spiritually but just worked like a banshee for the last two days making some extra cash.
The only way to know what someone’s struggles are is to know them, really know them.
How do you do this? You let them know, by your words and your actions, that you care and you love them. You engage them in conversation. You live life next to them. You have a relationship with them that goes beyond the suburban “How are you doing?” “I’m just fine, how about you?” and moves into the trenches with them.
This is what Jesus calls us too, it’s what He did when He lived out His life and then laid it down on the cross. And because of His resurrection we have Him as our living hope, and an example of what we are to do for others. Not from a higher, prideful position, but right next to someone, being open and vulnerable ourselves.
1 Peter 2:21-25 ESV
For to this, you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.  He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.  When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.  He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds, you have been healed.  For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Peace and Hope can be yours in Jesus
R. Andrew Springer