Stress levels have been rising for people all over the globe these last few [months]. News about the rapidly-spreading coronavirus, shelter-in-place orders, social restrictions, economic tailspins, and more have brought down society's morale significantly. People are searching for comfort in the midst of the chaos.
While these things weigh heavily on everyone, some individuals are more likely than others to be drawn toward unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Fox News reported that with all its various factors, the current crisis is already causing a rise in relapses for those who've struggled with previous addictions to drugs and alcohol.1 "Isolation and anxiety" create the perfect storm for those trying to fight their addictions, the article states. One therapist explains that since "social support and active involvement" are so important in the battle against addictions, the worldwide shutdowns happening right now pose special threats to previous and current addicts trying to quit.
In 2017, almost 20 million Americans (age 12 and older) struggled with substance abuse addictions.2 However, even more significant is the number of people addicted to another drug: pornography. Experts estimate that approximately 8% of the U.S. population is thoroughly addicted to pornography, or about 26 million individuals.3 Some sources say that number could be growing as we speak because of the coronavirus situation.
Those statistics are staggering and should be sobering to us. Clearly, as humans, we always turn to something for comfort or escape during hard times. It's just a question of what we will turn to.
So what does Scripture have to say about this? What does God want us to do when we're in need of comfort?
"Be anxious for nothing," Paul tells us in Philippians:4:6-7, "but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." God encourages (and commands) His children to come to Him about the stressful situations in their lives.
However, not only is this the morally right thing to do—it's also best for us. When believers do this, Paul continues, "the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Does this mean that our difficulties will go away? Sometimes, but usually not. Instead, this is a promise that God's peace will envelope us as we understand that He is completely good and completely sovereign. It's a promise that the Holy Spirit will remind us through Scripture of the things that are true about God and of His promises to us.
When we remember that we serve a God whose sovereign plans are never-changing, and whose steadfast love endures forever, that calms our hearts on a deeper level than anything else on earth can reach.
So while our world frantically searches for a temporary illusion of comfort and happiness, we can rest in the simple statement of our God in Isaiah:41:10,
Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
1. Hein, A. Coronavirus causing rise in drug, alcohol relapses among people in recovery, expert says. Fox News. Posted on foxnews.com March 30, 2020, accessed April 22, 2020.
2. Staff Writer. Alcohol and Drug Abuse Statistics. American Addiction Centers. Posted on americanaddictioncenters.org, accessed April 22, 2020. Updated February 3, 2020.
3. Hull, M. Pornography Facts and Statistics. The Recovery Village. Posted on therecoveryvillage.com, accessed April 22, 2020. Updated January 27, 2020.