Many people who tell their stories in recovery talk about how it was before, and how it is now. They focus on how living life without addiction is wonderful and full of wonders. How could somebody who was in such pain, and who sank so low ultimately become a productive and spiritual person today? Only a miracle could explain such a transformation! The goal is to see how all those low points in a person’s life were essential pieces of a holy puzzle.

The challenge for those in recovery is to see G‑d’s hand (or plan) in the pain of the past. This is what the story of Purim teaches us. The story begins with a report of the King’s party, when Queen Vashti upset the King to the point of him ordering her execution. When reading this piece of the story, you might wonder how this fits into the Purim miracle. But when you look back, it is obvious that in order for Esther to be in a position to save the Jewish people Queen Vashti had to be removed. In other words, it’s only after the fact that the pieces come together and prove that G‑d was always in control, and that everything had to transpire exactly the way it did.

As long as we are in exile, it is hard to see G‑d’s constant care. There are times when all seems lost. We might feel alone, frightened and helpless because we just can’t see past the pain. I know that one of the harshest experiences for a child is to feel abandoned. In a certain sense, exile is a state of abandonment — of unparalleled proportion. In a certain sense, we are going through exile because G‑d wants us to persevere through the pain, darkness or confusion. That is the recipe He has created to bring us to a higher more intimate connection with Him. The power of the salvation of the Jewish nation came as a result of Esther’s perseverance. It was her complete surrender to do G‑d’s will, in the thick of the turmoil, that brought about the help from above. This created a closeness that hadn’t been experienced before between G‑d and the Jewish people.

I am humbled when I hear someone tell of the horrors they went through while they were using, and conclude by saying: All that happened to me was needed to get me to where I am today. I hear about a lot of pain, and then I hear the acceptance and humility of the person saying that it had to happen exactly the way it did. There is something so comforting about witnessing how a person comes to the realization that G‑d has always been there and always will be. When you can describe your fall, and then find the Holy hand that was waiting — not only to catch you, but to lift you ever closer — it is nothing short of miraculous.

So, this Purim smile and rejoice! Think about all that has led you to this place in your life. It’s this attitude of gratitude that’s worth celebrating.