Day 8 – How Avoiding Pain Drives Addiction

Up until this point, we’ve talked a lot about the spiritual aspects of getting free. Today, let’s dive into the processes, both in our minds and in our bodies, that drive addiction. All addictions follow the same cycle—and the struggle with porn is no exception. That cycle is summarized below.


The Addictive Cycle

  •   Trigger → Response → Reward → Repeat

Trigger →

  • An event happens that triggers a negative feeling you wish to avoid (i.e. pain, rejection, boredom, loneliness, feelings of shame, lack of control, hopelessness, sadness, stress, disappointment, etc)
  • An event happens that triggers a positive feeling in your past you wish to repeat (i.e. past excitement, arousal, climax, etc).

Response →

  • A behavior is chosen in an attempt to either 1) avoid negative feelings, 2) experience positive feelings, or 3) usually a combination of the first two.

Reward →

  •  The chosen response to the trigger temporarily accomplishes the desired outcome, and a pathway is created and/or reinforced in the brain with every repetition of this cycle.

Repeat →

  • Eventually, the shame of giving into temptation triggers more feelings of pain, unworthiness, dirtiness, weakness, and other negative feelings, which usually trigger the cycle to start all over again.

For anyone struggling to change a stubborn behavior, this cycle has played out over and over again. And when it comes to rewards, porn has a big payoff—mainly, arousal, excitement and eventually, an orgasm. This temporarily helps you feel both immense pleasure, a sense of calm, and ultimately, control—while helping you avoid pain. It provides a temporary relief from whatever negative trigger was experienced at the onset of the cycle. 

Most people who struggle with porn are unaware of this cycle and how it is wreaking havoc in their lives. It’s time to change that. As you familiarize yourself with how the enemy’s schemes play out in your life, you can begin to fight with a better strategy and begin winning the war. 


Day 8 Freedom Work

Scripture Reading — Read Proverbs chapter 3 through 5 slowly, asking the Holy Spirit to speak to you. 

Journaling Exercises — Answer the following questions at length in your journal. Aim to write for about 5-7 minutes per question:

  • What are the things that trigger you to want to give into temptation? Make a list of as many pain points as you can, and be as specific as possible. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal these things to you as you write. 
  • When you experience pain points that trigger temptation, what would it look like to process this pain with God in prayer and with trusted friends, rather than continue down the cycle of addiction? How can you begin addressing your pain points in a healthy way?

Prayer Holy Spirit, thank you that you are known as both my comforter and my counselor. I am often in pain and unsure of how to handle it, and I often have an unhealthy response to it. Help me to learn to run to you in my pain and to rest in your affection for me. Reveal to me places where I am wounded and may not even know it, and bring healing to my wounded heart. Surround me with wise, trusted, and caring friends that can help me process my pain in a healthy way that leads to wholeness rather than bondage. I so often have tried to get out of my pain by any means possible. Thank you that no matter what I am facing, you are the Good Shepherd who leads me through the valley of the shadow of death. Help me to trust you to lead me to the other side. Amen. 

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Dr. Joseph Serwadda's Story

Over the past decade, numerous pastors and leaders from all over the world have been crying out (and even begging us) for discipleship resources in their language. This may sound extreme, but in America we have an abundance of books and resources that are available to us that are often taken for granted. In many ways, we have access to excess.

In some developing nations, people have never seen a book in their language. When leaders from these nations are given a book, they treat it as sacred gift! They even hand-write books and Bibles word for word so that they can spread this message of hope to others in their sphere of influence.

Dr. Joseph Serwadda, a leader from Uganda who oversees a group of churches that number approximately 27,000, echoes this need among pastors and leaders all over the world: “Our biggest need is not money or bigger buildings, but solid teaching. We lack literature for people to read and study on their own. The more people we have in church who are less instructed in the Word of God, the less solidity we have. Come and help us preserve the harvest. This is a Macedonian call!”

Pastor Yassir's Story

Over the years, Cubans have long suffered under the oppression of a single message: communism. Despite this challenge, Yassir is committed to sharing a new message with his people, a message of transformation that can lead to national revival.

Cubans, in general, have been conditioned toward communistic consumption. That’s why Yassir wants his people to embrace a new identity: a life defined by what they can give. This shift requires growth and maturity that can only come through a new perspective.

He explained, “The Cuban church is strong and filled with passion. But I believe it’s important that we shift our mentality. We need to see how the Gospel goes beyond our own needs. Ultimately, we need to take responsibility for ourselves and our nation, and not just wait for outside intervention.”

There aren’t many Christian resources in Cuba. So, Pastor Yassir’s church, along with many other churches throughout Cuba, have been profoundly impacted by the resources Messenger International has provided for them in their own language.

In our conversations with Pastor Yassir, he often cited an ancient proverb: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you’ve fed him for a lifetime. He sees MessengerX as a tool both to feed his people and teach them to fish.

It’s become evident that after many years in our ministry, the most effective way to transform a village or town is not to construct a church building. This just keeps the local leadership dependent on us.

We are much more effective if we give the indigenous leaders such as Pastor Yassir spiritual knowledge that will empower them to influence their village, town, or city. Such knowledge helps produce the faith needed to grow and sustain the work, which, if necessary, will include buildings and other resources.

Stories like Pastor Yassir’s fuel our mission, because we believe that everyone deserves to know life-transforming truth!

Nura's Story

Before Nura became a follower of Christ, her life was a living hell.
After the death of her husband—from whom she endured many years of abuse and suffering—she became a widow with four children. In search of peace and inner healing, she sought solace in religious places and practices, which only led her deeper into depression and financial debt.

Her last resort was Jesus.

“I came to the Christian church and begged for help! I accepted Christ after I heard of the promise of peace and healing that is found in Him,” Nura wrote. “I slowly began to recover, but there was one thing hindering my healing—unforgiveness.”
Filled with regrets, Nura struggled to forgive her husband. But the grip of offense began to weaken when her pastor handed her a copy of The Bait of Satan.

“I forgave my husband after I learned how much I, too, needed forgiveness,” shared Nura. “Now I am healed, and I have peace for the first time in my life. Some even say I look ten years younger!”


Pastor Raphael's Story

Pastor Raphael was raised in Kenya, immersed in a culture of darkness. As a child, he lacked affection because his father believed that strong men don’t show love. He continually witnessed his father beat and belittle his mother. Everywhere he looked, insidious behavior was practiced toward women and infants—families were being destroyed and lives were ending before they had a chance to begin.

This was the destiny Raphael was headed toward.

But everything changed when truth entered the scene. The first area to be transformed was Raphael’s heart—which, in turn, transformed his marriage and his family. And with a strong and healthy family, his whole outlook toward life has changed.

“Through the resources of Messenger International, a relentless passion was ignited in me to see the people of my country free from lies,” shared Raphael. “I discovered my purpose to train up others and bring God’s transforming truth to remote villages.”

Raphael has trekked miles through mud and rain to reach people, often rising early and returning late. He would travel over 50 miles a day with his bicycle—but through the generosity of the MessengerX community, he was given a motorcycle, which has enabled him to double his efforts while easily transporting the resources and supplies he needs to facilitate his classes. Raphael has seen over 200 of his students graduate in the villages he serves.

“Thank you for investing in my people,” expressed Raphael. “Each day tribal warriors are transformed into children of God, marriages are infused with love, and the innocent are protected. Your generosity has given us the tools we need to rewrite our story and reclaim our humanity.”

Dahlia's Story

Formerly a Muslim, Dahlia fled to Turkey after she was expelled from her Iranian school and excommunicated by her family. Her crime? Becoming a Christian.

You can now find Dahlia in a refugee camp, far from what she once called home. But despite the upheaval, she has found purpose in her pain. On a daily basis, Dahlia walks through her makeshift town and prays over the people. They have become her people—the audience of her message.

Dahlia has become a messenger, and she is often spotted lovingly serving those around her and sharing her faith with them. Despite language barriers, people are drawn to her because they see something different in her. And what’s amazing is that she’s not only reaching the people in her refugee camp, she’s also impacting those she left behind in Iran.

“I’ve had calls from Iran,” writes Dahlia. “People who mocked me because of my faith now believe in Jesus and want to know more. So, I tell them about MessengerX, which has a lot of translated discipleship resources.”

As we continue to provide people like Dahlia with life-transforming truth in their own language, we’re helping them grow in their faith and discover their purpose—and we’re equipping them to make a difference in their world.

“I am beyond thankful for all of the books that I’ve been able to read in my language, such as Driven by Eternity, translated in Farsi,” shared Dahlia. “I read them again and again. The messages keep me company in this lonely season, and they inspire me to reveal Jesus to the hurting people all around me.”