Today, I’m participating in the She Reads Truth devotional-writing project. You can read more about the project and check out other SRT readers’ devotionals here.
“O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore.” (KJV)
Wrath? Hot displeasure? Arrows?
I’ll be honest here: there are some parts of the Bible that make me want to turn my head, close the cover, or at least skip ahead to something happy and uplifting.
I say that the Word gives me life and hope and that I love reading it, but if I’m being completely honest with myself, I mean that I love reading some of it.
I don’t fast-forward because I know that I need these kinds of reminders. I need penitential psalms sometimes, just like I need Lent.
One of the toughest questions I’ve been asked by a nonbeliever was, “If you believe God always forgives you, what’s the point of doing anything good? Why not just sin all the time and rely on that forgiveness you think you’ve been promised?”
Part of me wanted to climb on a soap box and preach to him, to quote the apostle Paul, to remind him what Jesus charged His followers to do. Part of me wanted to list the gifts of the Spirit. Part of me wanted to give him the lukewarm, condescending, oh-but-I’m-such-a-good-Christian fake smile (you know the one) and remember all that he was missing.
But another part of me didn’t want to do that. It was a smaller part, as painful as it is to admit that, but it didn’t want to respond that way at all.
Part of me whispered, “I do sin all the time and rely on the forgiveness I’ve been promised.”
Because it’s true. It’s usually an afterthought, of course. I don’t think to myself, “Should I? Shouldn’t I? Oh, heck with it. God will forgive me,” and then run out and lead a reckless existence. But I do sin constantly, and I am comforted by the forgiveness I know He’ll extend.
But I forget about that middle step. I go from sin to forgiveness without paying any attention to the hurt He feels as a result of my actions. That’s why I need psalms like this one. They remind me that even though God is kind and loving and merciful, He still feels pain when we don’t abide in Him.
This psalm helps me remember how God feels when I sin. And I need that reminder.
And, of course, there’s this:
No, we’re not perfect. He doesn’t expect us to be. And yes, He will always forgive us. But it’s when we go to Him with repentant hearts, when we acknowledge that our sins hurt Him and pull us away from Him, when we realize the effects of what we’ve done, that we’re closer to leading the lives He wants for us.