The Sting of a Viper

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things. – Proverbs 23:29-33.

While we were on our recent trip, we ate dinner one evening at a restaurant in Columbus, Missouri. Columbus is the home of two or three colleges and it appeared to be college aged young people sitting two booths down from us. One woman and three men were in the booth. One of the men was intoxicated and it appeared the other three were embarrassed by his behavior but had to tolerate it for some reason.

The young man that was intoxicated talked so loudly and rudely that finally the family in the booth between us and the drunk; left the restaurant before finishing their meal. The drunk noticed that and announced loudly and proudly that he had caused them to leave. The woman sitting next to him tried to quiet him, as did the waitresses but to no avail. The drunk appeared to be thinking that he was impressing everyone by the way that he was acting, however, he was simply being a fool and everyone knew it. The three friends convinced him it was time to leave and they did try to leave but finally the manager had to make the drunk exit the building.

This was not the first intoxicated person that I have encountered and probably will not be the last. I have had them show up at church intoxicated and come to our home in the same condition. When it happens, I do try to communicate the love of Christ as do others in our congregation and we see it as a call to pray for them and to befriend them. I have prayed and continue to pray for young man who was at the restaurant in Columbus.

Some of my most unpleasant moments have been spent trying to talk people who were drunk or high on drugs not to hurt someone. They were all under my supervision while I was a parole officer and the vast majority of those who were on my caseload had the underlying problem of substance abuse. Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Who has been bitten by alcohol and drugs like the bite of a viper? I think I know, I think you know, and I think they know the answer to those questions.

How do you and I befriend a person who has no desire to be helped in the way we would like to help them? You do what you know to do. You pray for them and enlist others to pray for them. You look for those opportunities and make opportunities to extend kindness toward them in the Name of Jesus. Rarely is someone brought out of substance abuse overnight – it is a long-term effort and should be understood to be that way at the very first of your effort. It should also be understood that even when a substance abuser wants to stop it is still a very difficult thing. There will be ups and downs and there will be relapses for most.

How does the substance abuser stop abusing those substances? Only through the power of God! Of course, when first coming out from the fog of addiction a good rehab program based on the word of God will go a long ways toward their having success. Support from others who have overcome their addictions is also a real asset. Jesus is sufficient even for the overcoming of addictions. The resources of God available through Jesus, if used, can defeat the addiction. If you have an addiction and want to stop – you can. Immerse yourself in the things of God by reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on God’s Word. Find a Bible believing church and attend every time there is a service. Be honest with the pastor and other members of the church that you have a problem. Let them know you want their help and ask them to pray for you on a continuing basis. Spend much time yourself in prayer seeking the strength of the Lord who is your only hope. God does have the power to help you (Philippians 4:13)!

(The free Addictions Kit for substance abuse booklet is available to those who request it. Send your mailing address to

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