Ed Stetzer on the Opioid Crisis: Churches and Government Working Together for Good

Last October, President Trump declared the opioid crises a public health emergency. With the loss of 72,000 lives in 2017 due to an overdose of prescription drugs, our country is still firmly in the midst of an opioid epidemic, leaving many Americans wondering what to do and, most importantly, who to turn to for answers.

The difficult truth is that drug overdoses are currently our nation’s leading cause of accidental death. In an otherwise healthy country with widespread access to medical care, thousands are literally dying in their excess—losing their lives to drugs purchased out of dependency rather than dire need.

Deaths by drug overdose particularly pain us because they feel senseless. All around us, friends, family members, and loved ones are slipping through the cracks of addiction, hiding from help, and trying to cope with the effects of these deadly drugs all on their own.

After all, isn’t that the greatest lie? That we’re all alone? That no one understands?

Chris Eisele, president of Warren County Fire Chiefs’ Association in Ohio, alluded to one of the greatest challenges of the opioid epidemic: “This epidemic,” he said, “It’s got no face.” People from all walks of life, economic backgrounds, professions, and cultural contexts are finding themselves battling the bitterness of substance abuse and addiction. There’s no ‘type’ or typical victim—and, most importantly, everyone is in hiding.

It is into this environment—one ripe with shame and fear—that the church has the opportunity to walk and speak boldly.

First, with biblical truth

The nation of Israel was in a state of disrepair, immersed in sin and desperately in need of repentance. During this period, it was the prophet Isaiah who was chosen to speak God’s words of forbearance to this disobedient people.

Despite their shortcomings—no, really, they always fell short—the God of Israel had a plan of redemption in the works that was both bigger than they could ever imagine and better than they could ever deserve.

In Isaiah 35, the prophet described in detail what would happen upon the arrival of this coming Messiah:

“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.”

This Messiah, as it turns out, would be a master healer—one who freed individuals from the bondage of all sorts of infirmities. And that’s just what Jesus did. He attended to the sick, gave sight to the blind, and even raised the dead—there was no person too infected, too debilitated, or too far gone for his healing touch. It is in Christ’s attitude towards the suffering in his day that we see the heart of God.

He was the Great Physician.

Looking at Scripture, it becomes clear that God cares deeply for the spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being of people. As his faithful followers, we should do the same.

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Source: Christianity Today