When You Can't Get Beyond the Remorse

Of all the components of pastor’s conferences these days, I enjoy among the most the Q & A sessions that normally come in the mix. On Wednesday of this week in Minneapolis, Pastor Clay, Kevin, and I listened to all the speakers at the Desiring God conference answer a series of questions related to the topic of the pastor and his role of promoting the joy of his people in God. You may listen to the entire session here.

One of the questions had to do with suffering that results from your own sins. What do you do when you can’t get beyond your own remorse for sins that have hard consequences?

John Piper seized the opportunity to relate how he always goes to Psalm 107:10-16 in such situations.

10 Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,
prisoners in affliction and in irons,
11 for they had rebelled against the words of God,
and spurned the counsel of the Most High.
12 So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor;
they fell down, with none to help.
13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
and burst their bonds apart.
15 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
16 For he shatters the doors of bronze
and cuts in two the bars of iron.

Clearly these suffered due to their own rebellion. God bowed their hearts with hard labor as a result. What did they do? They cried to the Lord in their trouble. And imagine this! He delivered them from their distress.

So the counsel of God’s word when our own folly leads to grievous consequences is pray. Our gracious and compassionate God specializes in deliverances, even from our own sinfulness. And when he does deliver, give thanks for his steadfast love and his wondrous works to the children of men!

This morning’s Oxford Club study in chapter twenty one, These Inward Trials, of J. I. Packer’s book, Knowing God, dovetailed so nicely.

God can bring good out of the extremes of our own folly; God can restore the years that the locust has eaten. It is said that those who never make mistakes never make anything; certianly, these men made mistakes, but through their mistakes God taught them to know his grace and to cleave to him in a way that would never have happened otherwise. Is your trouble a sense of failure? The knowledge of having made some ghastly mistake? Go back to God; his restoring grace waits for you (IVP, 1993, p. 251).

Who of us can say that we have never erred in such a way so as to bring suffering upon our own heads? Perhaps even now you feel the sting of mistakes made that seems so gripping you can’t find a way out. Cry out to the Lord. Seek his restoring grace. And give thanks for his steadfast love and his wondrous works when the deliverance comes.

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