Updated: Oct 18
The topic of addiction and the effect on the family is very personal. Not only the effects of addiction, but the brokenness and loss as a result of addiction. However, in the midst of great loss and heartache, the beauty, light and hope of the gospel shines.
I met and married Rob Beck and began the adventure of marriage. Within six months the excitement and joy of our life became marred by the darkness of addiction. At first the relapses came every 4 to 6 months. Those relapses were devastating and always at the worst times. Like our children’s birthdays, when on many, Rob chose to spend the day with alcohol. And so it continued. Missed birthdays, ruined holidays, dreams for the future fading with each relapse. And each year they got worse.
We attended a number of churches over the years and each helped the best they could but eventually the insanity of our life cost us relationships. One church even asked us not to return. On two separate occasions, my best friends told me they could not be my friend anymore because they couldn’t deal with my life. I was alone trying to raise two kids and salvage some kind of “normal” for my family.
In 2005 we began attending Center Church in Gilbert. The people here had something I knew I needed, but I didn’t know what that was. I received Christ at an early age, was raised in church and had been a part of church my entire life; but there was something different here. I came to understand what was missing in my life was the gospel and a community transformed by the gospel.
In 2007 things began to spiral. My children and I lived an endless nightmare for two years. We not only woke up each day to an unpredictable husband and father, but each time my children and I left the house, we would return to a new crisis or mess. Life became a series of 911 calls, police visits, and worsening unruly behavior. We tried rehab after rehab, hospital after hospital, counselor after counselor and program after program. Some things appeared to work for a time, but within a few months, we were back in the cycle of chaos.
In the midst of all this darkness, a beautiful thing happened. My church family rallied and cared for me and my children. They cried with us, they sat in hospital waiting rooms, they took frantic calls at all hours of the day, and even saved the day with an impromptu birthday party for my son after his birthday was wrecked by yet another incident. The love I felt from others was a reflection of the love Jesus had shown them.
During these months of mayhem, one thing was certain. I was in the care of a loving God Who was not unsettled by the chaos and was completely in control. My pastors met with me almost weekly, and my closest friends cared for me in a way I had never experienced before. Although they didn’t have all the answers, they didn’t shy away from the mess. They were in it. All the way! The messiness of my life was spilling over onto them day after day, but they didn’t run. For years I felt alone. These friends stood with me in the darkest moments. Most of the time, no one really knew what to do, but they loved me and they didn’t leave me.
Experiencing God’s love through His people in this way changed me. I felt hope. And in all the devastating circumstances that ended in the failure of my marriage, God restored my life. He gave me hope. He changed me. He filled the emptiness and brought light into the dark places of my heart.
As I began to rebuild my life after divorce, God began to stir in me a desire to help people with addictions and He began to unfold a vision for something new, something like what my church had done for me. I knew there were many out there lost in the hopelessness of their struggle. They needed to meet the Savior who died for them. There are many programs for addiction; programs for prevention, some for crisis, many for treatment, but there isn’t much available for what happens after rehab. How does someone actually live in sobriety and freedom? How do people live after the devastation of addiction? So many times we would get through the crisis or the completion of another treatment program but I never knew what to do next. How do we move on? There was so much hurt, so much loss; lost trust, lost money, lost jobs, lost stability, lost love, lost hope. It's so hard! On edge all the time, waiting for the next crisis. The darkness and brokenness was real. But so was the love of Jesus.
It was in this brokenness and fighting to hold on to Jesus, that God birthed Hope for Addiction. Hope for Addiction is a ministry helping addicts to connect with Christ and learn that Jesus can set them free, not just make them sober.
Two and a half years into a growing ministry to those struggling in addiction, the devastation of addiction hit once again. I received the call I always knew would come but was not prepared to receive. October 13, 2016 Rob Beck died from a prescription drug overdose. The finality of this loss left me, and my kids, Grace and Robert, reeling. For several years I fought against hopelessness and the darkness of this tragic death threatened to choke the life from me. I didn’t know how to even begin to grieve. Without gospel truth, I would be lost. I would not have survived. The gospel lights a path in the darkness, allowing me to take one step forward at a time.
My feelings, the reality of our loss, the brokenness of family and the heartbreak of grief threatened to overtake me. Lamentations 3 served as a model for my fight. The writer of Lamentations does not deny the reality of his suffering or the pain of his loss. For him, life was dark and with the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, Israel was in mourning. He says things like:
He has made me dwell in darkness (v6)
He has made my teeth grind on gravel (v16)
My soul is bereft of peace, I have forgotten what happiness is (v17)
My endurance has perished so has my hope in the Lord (v18)
The writer does not deny or ignore the reality of his suffering and in verse 19 he concludes that constant focus on this reality makes his soul “bowed down within him.” Continual recounting of the truth of the suffering in his life makes him depressed and anxious. In verse 21, however, he changes his thinking which gives him hope. What does he focus on? The steadfast love of the Lord, new mercies every morning, the faithfulness of God. This greater truth brings hope, even though the circumstances remain the same. He acknowledges the truth of his life but he doesn’t stop there. He reminds himself of the greater truth of God’s steadfast love. It is this change in perspective; the change in focus that brings hope.
This model is what I apply in my fight for truth. There are things that are true about my suffering and loss. Pain is there, it is very real and there I am hopeless. But when I remember truths about God, His love, what Christ has done, promises I have as a believer, I have hope.
What does this look like in the midst of, or aftermath of addiction? Let’s consider some truths about addiction, the reality of addiction, the loss of addiction and contrast them with the truths of the gospel, the greater truth.
Truth: Trust in those I love is lost.
Greater truth: God is trustworthy and faithful.
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.
But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
We may not be able to trust those in our life, we can’t trust circumstances. But we CAN trust God because He is faithful and trustworthy.
Truth: I have been lied to so many times that it's difficult to know what is true.
Greater truth: The Lord is truth, God cannot lie, His word is true.
So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.
in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began.
No matter how many lies we’ve told or those we believed, God cannot lie. His Word is true and I can trust what He says. I can count on God’s Word to be unchanging and true.
Truth: I have lost material things, homes, income and I’m not sure how I will survive.
Greater truth: God is my provider, He will take care of me.
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
No matter what material things I may lose, the Lord promises to provide for my needs. As a follower of Jesus, I am more precious that his creation and my needs will always be met. My needs are known to the Lord and He already has a plan for provision. I can trust Him.
Truth: I’ve lost family and friends. I am alone.
Greater truth: God is with me always, He will never leave me or forsake me.
Psalm 27:10 NIV
Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.
And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
I may lose someone I love and I may feel alone, but the Lord is always with me. Jesus cannot forget about me or my situation.
Truth: There is no good in sight, how can anything good come from this mess? I don’t understand what is happening.
Greater truth: He is working and it is good, even if I can’t see or understand, God has good for me, He knows.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
Addiction makes no sense. There are times it looks completely hopeless and dark. But I am assured that God is working His purposes, even in the midst of complete and utter despair. I may not see it now, but God will be glorified in this suffering and He is making me more like Jesus through it. Even if I don’t understand and I don’t like it, without this truth I can see no good in my pain; but God does not allow suffering without a purpose.
Truth: The one I love chose substances over me, we lost our family.
Greater truth: God chose us, we belong to His family.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
1 Peter 2:9-10
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Addiction makes us feel rejected and alone. As believers in Jesus, we are chosen by God and we belong to Him. I am not rejected by God, because of Jesus I am fully accepted and loved.
Truth: I feel exposed, vulnerable. It seems I will not survive this storm.
Greater truth: The Lord is my refuge, my safe dwelling place, I am safe with Him.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold
This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.
He led them in safety, so that were not afraid.
The unknowns that come with addiction leave us vulnerable and uncertain and afraid. The Lord is my strength, the place I hide, my shelter in the storm, my place of safety. Even if I run to Him while curled in a ball in the corner of the room, sobbing my eyes out. He keeps me safe.
Truth: Things seem out of control, my world is falling apart.
Greater truth: The Lord is my Rock, the One thing that steadies me, that anchors me, He is in control.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding?
God is bigger than the circumstances of our life. He is sovereign; nothing is outside of His control. The Lord is not surprised by anything happening, even if it is shocking and devastating to me. He is the one who anchors me with the storms of life threaten to take me out.
Truth: I am afraid.
Greater truth: I don’t have to fear, God is with me.
fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
Many times life is falling apart and it seems that the earth is giving way beneath me. But even if that happens, God is still my refuge, strength and He is very present in my time of trouble. My faith is not in my circumstances, it is in the Lord, the one who created the heavens and the earth.
Truth: Things appear hopeless, I feel hopeless.
Greater truth: The Lord alone is my hope.
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
My hope can never be in a person or a situation. My hope must remain firmly anchored in the Lord. He alone is my rock and my fortress. I can run to Him and He hears me.
Truth: My life is nothing but chaos.
Greater truth: Peace is found in Jesus.
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
Addiction produces chaos in every aspect of life. Trusting in the Lord in spite of the chaos, focusing on Him and His truth, provides a refuge of peace that I desperately need in times of uncertainty.
Truth: No one understands my pain, my struggle.
Greater truth: Christ is my High Priest who understands and He comforts me. I can draw near to Him in my time of need and receive mercy and grace.
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
No matter what I face, Jesus knows loss, pain, suffering, grief, rejection, abandonment; I can go to Him confidently and receive mercy in my time of need. Jesus invites me to come to Him and find rest from the burdens I carry.
Truth: It's too hard, I can’t go on. This is all too much to bear.
Greater truth: I can stand in His strength, He has overcome, His grace is enough.
If the LORD had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence. When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
This life is hard and I cannot do it alone. Left on my own there is no hope. But I am not alone and I don’t have to figure it out alone. Christ has overcome sin and death and He gives strength to those who wait on Him, who rest in Him, and bring their cares to Him.
Truth: All around me is darkness, brokenness and pain.
Greater truth: The darkness has not overtaken me, darkness is not greater than Jesus, Christ has overcome.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
How comforting! Even my darkest days are not dark to the Lord! My darkness is not dark at all - Christ shines in the dark and He cannot be overcome.
Truth: Addiction brought endless sorrow, pain and suffering.
Greater truth: My suffering is not in vain, I have an eternal inheritance being kept by God, my faith is being strengthened in suffering, the Lord will preserve me to the end.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
1 Peter 1:3-5
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
My suffering does not feel light or momentary, but when I step back and see this point in time in light of eternity, it lightens the burden. One day this suffering will be exchanged for an inheritance that is being kept for me in heaven. The Lord is near to me in my suffering and He is helping me persevere to the end.
Other greater truths that help me when I feel lost, when I’m in pain, when the tears fall:
Christ died for me, even at my worst.
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
I have been rescued by the grace and mercy of God.
God loves me, He rescued me from eternal darkness and despair.
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Because of Jesus, my suffering in this life is the worst I will face.
He cares about my tears- they are precious to Him.
You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?
It seems there will be an entire ocean in heaven with my tears. But knowing He cares about the tears that fall, comforts me.
He is near to the brokenhearted.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
When I am suffering, it can feel that the Lord is distant. The truth is, it is in these moments He is near to me, caring for me and loving me.
Nothing can separate me from Christ’s love.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
No matter what happens to me in this life, I cannot be separated from God’s love and care.
One Final Truth:
He is going to make all this right.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
There is coming a day when Christ will end suffering and pain and tears.
“God has promised to set things right. Let history finish.” -Nancy Guthrie, Be Still My Soul
The best the world has to offer those who struggle with addiction and their families is not enough. More than 100,000 people died from opiate overdose in 2022. This does not account for other drug or alcohol deaths or deaths as a result of complications from addiction. The CDC states, “Drug overdose deaths are up 30% year-over-year.” The government’s answer to the epidemic of addiction is simply more drugs; drugs to get off drugs or drugs to keep people from dying. It isn’t enough. As biblical counselors, pastors and as believers in Jesus, we can’t be afraid to face the brokenness and darkness that addicts and their families are living. We can enter in and proclaim the hope of the gospel. It isn’t enough to keep people from dying; in the current hopeless state, death seems a welcoming friend. We need to give people a reason to live. In Christ they can have a new life, a life of freedom. Galatians 5:1 says, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Freedom and change are possible. A life filled with purpose and joy is available. In light of the gospel, we can confidently stand in the midst of the brokenness, acknowledge the truth of the heartache, allow people to be honest with the reality of the mess and then bring them the greater truth of the gospel.
Gospel truths are for every believer, regardless of circumstance or suffering. People who struggle with addiction need these truths. Family members suffering from the effects of addiction need these truths. Darkness and hopelessness surround people in addiction. Most have experienced much heartbreak and have comforted their souls with substances. Understanding biblical, gospel truth makes the difference. Rob Beck believed the lie that he could not change, and he died believing that lie.
The greater truths of the gospel do not take away the pain, but they do comfort us and they give us hope in the midst of suffering. Scripture does not deny the reality of pain or trial or struggle. It is filled with lamenting and honest awareness of the mess of this fallen world. Let’s not be afraid to sit there for a minute with people. Many of those who struggle with addiction have horrific experiences. They have been greatly sinned against and they have sinned against others. Christ breaks through and restores, but it is necessary to first acknowledge the pain, the sorrow and the brokenness. It is in this place of need that we have the privilege to bring the amazing hope of Christ to broken people and walk with them as they allow Jesus to heal their wounds. We must acknowledge the truth of their life, the truth of their suffering, the truth of their pain. We live in a fallen broken world. This is true. But there is a greater truth that we bring. The truth that Christ has come to take their sin, comfort their pain and bring light to the darkness. We can teach people to hold on to the greater truth of the gospel. Let’s help them understand HOW to hold on to truth. Draw them out. Ask questions. Engage with them.
This takes time. But as Philippians 1:6 tells us, And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Without Christ, suffering and pain has no meaning. We know that God does not waste our suffering, rather, He makes something beautiful. He redeems it, just as He is redeeming the pain of my family.
The Lord has taken my family’s brokenness, our pain, and birthed a ministry to equip churches to help hurting people the way my church helped me. Through the suffering of my family, people I will not meet until heaven, will hear the glorious message of the gospel. God is doing something beautiful in the mess of our life and we are still a work in progress. Addiction cost us our family and has brought more pain than words can express. Yet in this pain, because of the gospel, our family is able to love those that seem unlovable. This is the gospel on display. We too were once God’s enemy, yet through Christ we are now beloved. Because of Christ we are able to love, even people who struggle with addiction.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
May this personal story and the example of how I lean in to the Lord in my struggle build confidence for you to step into messy and difficult situations. If you are a follower of Jesus, you have all you need to walk alongside the hurting, bring hope, and teach people to turn to the Lord in suffering. The reality is that addiction causes much pain, chaos and heartache to all the places it touches. Don’t shy away from it, face it. Stand in the darkness, acknowledge the truth of addiction, share Christ and the greatest truth of all, the Gospel.This is the power to change lives.
Watch Liz's story here
About the author: Liz Beck is the Founder of Hope for Addiction