Samson’s story presents the irony of a powerful and yet absolutely powerless man. God gave Samson incredible physical strength. But neither physical strength nor strength of will can overcome our sinful addictions. Samson’s particular addiction was sexual, and his obsession led him to squander his God-given strength. Addictions are often attempts to meet personal needs through physical pleasures. Each human being comes into this world equipped with a nearly insatiable, lifelong need for love. Only God is big enough to satisfy that demand. In fact, we’re created to love, and to be loved, by God. Sex can seem to be a powerful substitute for love. That shouldn’t be surprising, since sexual love is designed by God to be enjoyed by a husband and wife with such intensity that their intimacy reflects the love Jesus has for his church (see Ephesians 5:28-32).

What was Samson’s overriding failure? He failed to enjoy and share God’s love and the love of others. In addition, he didn’t care enough about his own people to use his strength to set them free. This strongest of men settled for the substitute and sacrificed his God-given asset.

Samson never fulfilled his purpose in life, even though he frequently demonstrated evidence of his amazing power. Regularly in his story we’re told that “the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him” (e.g., see Judges 14:19). If we’ve worked through the first seven principles on the road to recovery, we’ve both experienced and displayed God’s power. However, if we fail to continuously practice Principle Eight, we’re in danger. Recovery includes sharing our experience of change with others. Real recovery will make the needs of others more important to us than our own: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

Samson, like the rest of the judges God empowered, was born to deliver others from bondage. Instead, Samson squandered his gifts on personal gratification. Sobriety doesn’t equal recovery. It’s the beginning point of a process that will help us to fulfill God’s purposes in our lives. Those purposes include using our pain as a platform for proclaiming God’s power to heal broken lives and set captives free.

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