6–12 August 2017.
It’s very easy for us to see other people’s sins, but we often don’t see our own sins at all. We look at ourselves in the mirror but we don’t see our failings. Instead our eyes and our minds trick us into thinking that we are better than we really are. And if we ever do see our sins, we tell ourselves that they really aren’t so bad. So the greatest punishment God can give us is to open our eyes so that we see with absolute clarity just how terrible we have been, and to open our hearts to know how much we have disappointed God, how much we have disappointed those around us, and disappointed ourselves too. To see ourselves as we really are, and to see the reality of our own sins – that’s a painful experience.
The writer of Psalm 38 certainly knows that pain. God has opened his eyes to see his own sin, and that knowledge is tearing him apart. In vv. 2–14 he gives us a long description of his suffering. God has opened his eyes to his sin, and it feels as if God has shot him with arrows. His body is full of suffering and pain, he feels crushed by his sins, cut, wounded and infected by them, bowed down with mourning and completely crushed because of the sorrows in his heart. His strength fails him, and the light in his eyes has gone out. Why? In v. 5 we hear the writer’s answer: it’s because of the his own foolishness.
Haven’t we all had that experience before? Memories pop into our mind of all the bad things we have done, and they make us feel horrible. We shout at ourselves: “How could I have been so stupid!” In the middle of this despair, the writer knows there is only one way out. He falls before God and in vv. 18–22 says, “God, I am sorry for my sin. Don’t leave me because of it, don’t be far away; instead come and save me.”
The greatest punishment God can give us is to clearly show us the sin in our lives. But it’s also an incredible blessing. Because when we really see our sin, when we look in the mirror and see how stained we are, this experience pushes us to fall before God in repentance and ask for his forgiveness. And with God’s forgiveness, our hearts can let go of all that self-hate, and we can finally find some peace.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis