Why Recovery Matters

Jeff Hsiang, the author of this post, is a part of the Midtown Residency Program facilitating our LifeGroups and Recovery ministries. For more information about our leadership, visit our Leadership page.

As part of my time in the Residency, I have the privilege of being a part of our Recovery ministry, as well as leading it. Recovery is a ministry for anyone who's dealing with something that feels unbeatable in life. Having been around the last few years leading and helping out, I am incredibly thankful that Recovery exists in our church family.

Because Recovery is a place:

  • for the hurting and the weak
  • where people find hope in the gospel
  • where people can see there is now no more shame, no more guilt
  • where people see that we can be fully known and fully loved and accepted because of the gospel
  • where people who feel like they have been drowning their whole life, can now breathe in deeply
  • where people start to understand that no matter what we have done and because of what everything Jesus has done, our Heavenly Father now looks at us and declares over us “This is my son, whom I am well pleased.”

More People than Ever

And this cycle we've had more people coming than ever before. When the Recovery cycle started two weeks ago, we had 100 people courageously come and say “I need help, I need Jesus.” It’s a beautiful mess. And also more than ever, most everyone who came to Recovery is in a LifeGroup. And that is a big deal because they can continue to walk with their LifeGroup intimately and deeply even after the Recovery cycle is over. They can continue to lean on one another and encourage each other with the hope that is found in Jesus.

None of us have the perfect Instagram life; none of us can say we have the picture-perfect life where nothing is wrong and everything is exciting. We all have dealt with shame, insecurity, suffering, pain, or guilt at some point in our lives. We all long for to be fully known and fully accepted. Some of us have even defined who we are by our shame or our past.

The Gospel for the Recovering

The beautiful news is that the gospel answers all of it. Not only is our shame and past completely paid for on the cross, but Jesus has given us new names: names like righteous, perfect, and redeemed. I have seen in past Recovery cycles where people begin to see their new identity in the gospel, and from that, lives began to change. Lives heading towards even more brokenness and chaos are now heading towards restoration.

At this cycle of Recovery, I cannot wait to see what Jesus is going to do. We celebrate people coming to Recovery because coming to Recovery is acknowledging we can't do life on our own and that we need to hear about a Savior.

Some Help Reading Ecclesiastes

To many Christians, Ecclesiastes is a very strange read. Throughout the book, Solomon often sounds depressed, incredibly cynical and at times he seems to say blatantly untrue things or Biblically false ideas. On top of all of that, there are times when he seems to contradict himself.

But hiding behind these initial frustrations and confusions lies a wealth of wisdom, insight and truth waiting for us. When we understand the literary genre and the nature of the task Solomon is accomplishing throughout Ecclesiastes, the light bulbs start to turn on with otherwise very dark passages. Wisdom literature graces us with some of the most helpful, beautiful passages in all of Scripture and simultaneously befuddles us with some of the most confusing passages in all of Scripture.

The reason for Solomon’s apparent pessimism throughout the book of Ecclesiastes originates from the nature of the task that he is accomplishing for us. Throughout the book, Solomon walks in a tension of two views of life:

  1. Life with no view of God.
  2. Life with God in view.

Solomon spends a majority of Ecclesiastes considering view number 1 which is why it tends to be so pessimistic, cynical and strange sounding. In brief moments throughout the book he expands his view to include God and we get breaths of fresh air. Whenever you find yourself stumped by a verse or a passage in Ecclesiastes, immediately ask yourself the question “Is he describing life with no view of God right now?” This is the case almost every time he is depressed sounding or seemingly wrong.

For example in Ecclesiastes 10:19, Solomon writes:

“Money answers everything.”

At first glance that is blatantly wrong. But here he is describing life with no view of God and saying at a practical level, money is an answer to an incredible amount of problems under the sun. It won’t fix the underlying brokenness but it can certain solve a lot of symptomatic issues. It’s a truism presented in a very specific context of life considered with no view of God.

Practical steps to interpreting Ecclesiastes:

  1. Spend time praying and meditating on the tough passages asking the Holy Spirit to illuminate them to you.
  2. Ask yourself the question, “Is he describing life with no view of God right now?”
  3. If you are still stuck, talk to your LifeGroup and see if you can figure it out together.
  4. In a pinch, consult commentaries, your LifeGroup coach or someone you know with more biblical knowledge.

Don’t let a confusing statement here or there and a seemingly pessimistic tone limit you from enjoying all that Jesus has to offer us in this book. When it’s the hardest to understand, rely on Jesus’ strength the most. When it seems too murky to press on, pray for Jesus’ light to illuminate it. And together as a family, let’s learn from Jesus through Solomon how to live The Good Life.