As Far as the East is From the West

In my morning Bible study today I came across the following verse from Isaiah 38:17 - “Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.”

To put the verse in historical context, the prophet Isaiah had gone to Judah’s king, Hezekiah, to tell him of his impending death. Hezekiah cried out to God. God heard his prayer and extended his life for 15 additional years. Isaiah chapter 38 is a record of this journey and Hezekiah’s resulting words of praise and thanksgiving.

As a recovering porn addict this verse speaks to me on so many levels. Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. Although I was not physically ill in my addiction I was mentally and spiritually ill. Anguish when used as a noun is defined as severe mental or physical pain or suffering. When used as a verb it means to be extremely distressed about something. Part of any addiction is the endless cycle of needing to quit, trying to quit, being unable to quit, and doing what you hate all over again . . . and again . . . and again. Knowing that what you are doing is hurting yourself and your loved ones. Being terrified that someone will find out. Being filled with self-loathing.

In this passage Hezekiah recognizes the good that came from a horrible experience. For me being released from my addiction to pornography opened doors to testify to God’s goodness and his faithfulness. It humbled me and brought to a place where God could use me not only to testify but to educate and empower women in this area. When difficult things happen, when we feel anguish mentally, spiritually or physically we need to pray for God’s help to gain something beneficial from the experience..

In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction. In the context of the passage this part of the verse refers to God literally saving Hezekiah from physical death. For me, God’s love kept me from a pit of destruction where my addiction taken to the extreme could have cost me my marriage, my family and my job. It also could have escalated behaviors that would have eventually affected my physical health.

You have put all my sins behind your back. And this is when I teared up and felt God gently revealing this verse to me. Because although I have confessed, repented (turned away from my sin) and know that I am forgiven I sometimes still feel unworthy and honestly, in my hidden places, unforgiven. Acts 3:19 tells us to, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out . . .” Micah 7:19 describes God treading our sins underfoot and hurling all of our iniquities into the sea. Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Scripture tells us repeatedly in Isaiah 43:25, Jeremiah 31:34, Hebrews 10:17, and Hebrews 8:12 that God will remember our sins no more.

Dear one, who is loved by God. There is no sin he will not forgive and nothing that you can do that can separate you from the love of God. Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Precious Father - THANK. YOU. Amen!