Scripture Reading: Psalms 5, 38, & 42
Memory Verse: “For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.” – Psalm 38:4
This life that we lead is filled with many experiences that trigger our emotions, feelings, and thoughts. While there are countless minuscule events that may not even hold place in our memories, there are those events and experiences that not only hold place in our minds as memories, but also affect our thoughts, feelings, and emotions currently and in the future. Some events even change our lives drastically whether for better or worse. Those life changing experiences that, no matter when they happened, hold sway vividly in our minds and hearts are usually negative or bad experiences. The majority of the time, the primary cause for the event or experience is sin (but not always). Typically what comes to mind is divorce, broken family relationships, disease, death, etc. Some of these events, if not all, happen suddenly and unexpectedly. They take us off our guard and make us question, “Why is this happening to me?” The focus today is going to be on those difficult situations that arise in your life as a result of sin. These situations are ones in which we would, in our pride, love to ignore and set aside as if they never happened. I mean sure, that would be easy, but it’s just not realistic. The fact is, it did happen and where are you going to go from here? You cannot change the past but you can affect the future either positively or negatively. The question becomes, how? How are you going to change the future in this situation? What is there to do when you seem to have no answer? Who do you go to in this your most desperate hour?
We first need to establish some typical facts about how most people approach difficult situations in life. If it is something out of our control, we respond in anger. For example, when your grandmother who has been the most important person in your entire life suddenly is diagnosed with cancer and is given two months to live, you respond out of anger. You are angry at God, other people, doctors, and more directly, yourself. You blame yourself for not spending enough time with them and you are angry with yourself for taking her for granted all of these years. Another example is in divorce. Your spouse has an affair on you. In your opinion (and probably even in reality) you are a great wife. Sure, you have your flaws as we all do, but you have loved your husband and respected and cared for him your entire marriage. You have a child together and while he wasn’t the perfect father or husband, you were content. This just doesn’t seem fair so you become angry with God, your husband, family; the woman involved in the affair, and more directly, yourself. In both of these cases, you have done nothing to cause these terrible events to come about, they just happened to you. Anger is the typical response.
In steep contrast to this however, is the response we take to those difficult situations in which we are at fault or those that we caused to happen because of our sin. This is our focus today. Sin causes shame. While it seems that some hide it very well and may be even numb to its effects, sin still produces feelings of shame. When we sin and suffer the consequences that stem from it, we typically will hide behind our problems, keep them to ourselves, and avoid talking about them at all costs. We start developing excuses and stories to explain why we may have committed that sin. Over time, we even begin to believe the lie that what we did really “wasn’t that bad.” We look at those who are upset with us because of our sin and the consequences it may have produced and expect them to just “get over it.” This is a very dangerous defense mechanism that can even numb us to the conviction of the Holy Spirit. This is the hardest part of the Christian life, dealing with sin. This is the hardest part of life in general. We must not be ashamed of our sin (easier said than done). We must not remain silent and keep quiet about our sin. How do we as Christians deal with sin that has penetrated our lives and hurt the most important people in our lives? If sin like this can produce consequences that can literally alter the course of our life forever, where do we turn and what do we do? Simply, we must cry out to our Lord. We will look at three implications today that God reveals to us through His Word in how we should approach and respond to God, as well as take a look at the result of this cry to God.
Firstly, our approach to God should be considered in responding to our sin. It is easy for us to immediately seek the input of our friends and family in our time of need. We seek out the advice of those we trust most and desire the insight they may be able to contribute in determining how we should deal with our sin and the consequences it has produced. This is not where David sought understanding when he felt lost in His sin as we all do at times. David sought the Lord diligently and intentionally. “O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.” (Psalm 5:3) David directed his prayers to the LORD each morning. He made a point to wake up and seek God first, before He did anything else. In dealing with sin and its consequences in life, we must seek God and pour out our groans to Him early and often. Show Him your desire for comfort and resolution and mercy by approaching His throne of grace early in the morning. If you are dealing with sin and consequences today, make it a point as David did to approach God in the morning. Have the heart of David when you approach the LORD as you “through the abundance of [His] steadfast love, will enter [His] house.” (Psalm 5:7a) Plead with Him to lead you in His righteousness as you “bow down toward [His] holy temple in fear of [Him].” (Psalm 5:7b) To begin dealing with your sin and the consequences, you must first approach His throne, allotted by His mercy, and bow before Him early and often.
Another thing to consider in dealing with the life altering consequences of your sin is your response to God. After committing these iniquities or sins against the Lord, as a Christian, we must respond to Him. We see the response of David to the Lord clearly in Psalm 38. Head his words to the Lord: “For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.” (Psalm 38:4) Oh how these words echo in our own hearts today! If we are not careful, we will allow our ignorance of our sin to overwhelm us and eventually take over our life if left unhandled. Simply said here, admit to God that you are not enough on your own to handle this situation. Admit that it is too big for you. Why do we always keep these feelings to ourselves though? While we may feel ashamed of these groans and true feelings, we can be confident that the LORD will hear these groans and He looks straight through our shame. He sees into our heart and we may as well let the feelings of our heart pour out to Him. How great the trembling groans of David’s soul are! He makes it clear to the Father who is turning to in His time of great need. “But for you, O LORD, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.” (Psalm 38:15) Can you just feel the intimacy of David in His relationship with the Father? Although he could have sought the “wisest in the land” to give him understanding, help, and advice in dealing with the consequences of His sin, He would wait on the Lord for He knew He would answer. In this your time of greatest need, demonstrate your faith in God by waiting on Him to answer for you know He will! When your life is being heavily affected by your own sin, the best thing you can do is trust in the God of your salvation and wait on Him to answer. Very crucial to this response to God for your sin is to confess and repent for His mercy and grace is without bound. He gives mercy and grace to the undeserving because of His steadfast love. Imitate David as he confessed his sins to God the Father, whom he was waiting on and trusting. “I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin.” (Psalm 38:18) What a simple cry to the Lord. Cry out to the Lord your God! Confess your sin and ask forgiveness. By approaching Him early and often while you confess your sins and begin to repent, God will hear your cry. Show Him that you are totally dependent on Him. Cry out to God: “Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!” (Psalm 38:22) Do not keep these feelings bottled up. Pour them out to God and beg Him to “make haste” in answering your plead.
Finally, we will see the result of crying out to God in response to our sin. Am I claiming that by crying out to God you will immediately receive an answer as to how to make the situation better? Of course not! I am not saying that would be impossible though. The most important thing is that God will forgive you of this deep iniquity that seemingly haunts you every day of your life. This burden of guilt and shame will be removed from your life. What will replace it though? Will the consequences of your sin be diminished? Once again I can confidently say, of course not! The consequences will remain and they are seldom easy to deal with. However, there is something that will replace your guilt and shame that will make your journey through these consequences easier and you will (prepare for shock) rejoice in them! Yes, I meant to write that. If you will approach God and respond to your sin by confessing it to God and repenting from it, your guilt and shame will be replaced with a greater desire for Him! Praise God for this as you see this implication come to life in the following passages in Psalm 42. “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1-2) Through seeking Him early and often, you will develop this beautiful desire for God. You will develop and thirst that only He can quench. You will thirst for Him daily as your sin is forgotten, despite the consequences. Head the psalmist’s cry to his own soul: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.” (Psalm 42:5) Although we may tend to lean toward depression and though our heart may feel as if it is in turmoil through these consequences, we must remind our soul to rejoice in our hope in God! We must remember the God of our salvation and praise Him again. That’s right, praise God despite your consequences. Look the consequences of your forgotten sin in the face and say, “I shall again praise Him, my God and my salvation!”
Day and night God’s mercies prevail over our sin if we but allow Him to work in us. All we do is confess, repent, and trust. God forgives, renews, redeems, and restores the life that although altered by consequences, can be once again lived in praise and adoration to the Father in order to bring glory to His name! Always remember that in every situation, God is in control and each event and experience (good or bad) happens in order for Him to receive more glory. Be the one to give all the glory back to Him by allowing Him to work in your life, even through tremendous sin and consequence. All in all, rejoice in the LORD! “Rejoice always!” (1 Thessalonians 5:16 emphasis added)