Kevin Downey grew up with the belief that when things are going well, it's best not to "get to your hopes up." The good can change in an instant and life can become difficult. Through LIFE Recovery, he's confronting this belief and trading it in for hope and trust. Recently, his counselor asked him to read Romans 12:1-2 and respond to some questions.
How does Romans 12:1-2 help change the thought process of “don’t get your hopes up?”
The Old Testament law called for sacrifice. An animal would be killed and placed on the altar according to the law. The law of the Old Testament was fulfilled with Christ offering himself as the sacrifice. God is pleased with his payment for our sins and accepts it. Bulls, goats, rams, and other animals are no longer required of us. Instead, we are called to offer ourselves as living sacrifices. If you place a sacrifice on the altar that is still alive, it’s going to wander off. A living sacrifice must be brought back to that altar daily. It’s a powerful picture of what our lives in Christ must be. To wander off the altar means moving back into the world. The world and all its pleasures will never satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts. After tasting of it’s disappointments enough, it is all too easy to give up on hope. This, I believe, is where Paul tells the Chruch to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Take our hopes off earthly desires, and look to God for the satisfaction that he offers. Paul also offers the perspective needed for such a sacrifice, “In view of god’s mercy.” When we keep this in mind, it becomes possible to let go of our earthly desires, and cling to his. “Then we will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect will.”
How does that apply?
Lately, I’ve had my mind wandering away from what I do have to what I don’t. I’m single, broken, jobless, homeless, and am unsure of a career direction. There’s nothing wrong with desiring these things, but basing my joy and satisfaction on whether or not I do have these things is a worldly way of thinking. I need to climb back onto the altar of sacrifice and lay down these burdens. I long for joy and satisfaction. However, saying yes to some things means saying no to something else. I need to say no to dwelling on what I don’t have, and yes to what I do. I am loved. I have a roof over my head and clothes on my back. I have support from an entire community. I have wise and talented people working hard for me so that I can overcome my addictions and heal from my wounds. I have almighty God who is for me and not against me.
How can God be the catalyst?
I recently saw a picture of a child standing in front of Jesus clinging to her beat up little teddy bear. Jesus was holding out one hand in front of Him for her to hand the teddy bear over. She seemed reluctant to give it up. His other hand was behind His back holding a brand new teddy bear, ten times the size of hers. It was new, plush, and it made me kind of want a teddy bear, myself. The caption under the picture simply said, “Trust Me.”
False beliefs - such as, "Don't get your hopes up" - can often lead to addiction. Learn more from UGM Counselor John Dunne.