Is life getting you down? Are you feeling like Atlas, carrying the world on your shoulders? Sad, blue, depressed, restless? I know that I have felt like that, and often, I don't know what brought it on. Then, when I come to my senses and turn to the great Comforter in Scripture and prayer, I realize certain benefits.
I remember a summer when I was around 12 or 13 years old. We were living in a small village in Quebec, Canada, and my cousins had come to visit from Ontario. My cousin, Jean, looked enough like me to be a twin. One day after they left, my friend came up to me and began yelling at me in anger, "How could you ignore me?" Sorting it out, I discovered that she had called to my cousin thinking that it was me, and she had been totally ignored. I explained the likely cause of the confusion, and we soon forgave each other and were once again friends. Aha! — the benefits of being forgiven!
When I can't pinpoint why my spirits are down, it is sometimes that my conscience is prodding me for something that I didn't do or something that I did that was just not quite right. Then, it is time to have a general confession. If I can pinpoint what I did that set my conscience working overtime, then a more focused confession is in order, and if possible, also a request for forgiveness from the one whom I hurt or offended.
Those we offend, confess to, and ask forgiveness from are not God, so there is no guarantee that they will grant it. But in confession, God hears our request, and His forgiveness can really start to clear our spirits. God's forgiveness, after all, is the one that really matters.
1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (RSV)
Romans 4:7 – Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. (RSV)
These verses make me feel better still. I have surely asked forgiveness over many things and have felt forgiven afterwards. What a blessing!
Further good news: Jesus gives us some examples of good behaviour, each with a promise:
Luke 6:37 – Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven. (RSV)
Not only do I have to ask for forgiveness, but I must also forgive others. Oh, oh — feeling down again, I probably haven't been as good at forgiving others as I should.
In truth, I often don't even know that I did something that hurt or offended someone else. I am sure that I am not alone in that, so not only do we need to ask for forgiveness for ourselves for the unintentional hurts that we have caused others, but we also need to forgive those whom we feel have slighted us but may be unaware of the situation.
Speaking of Christ, Peter says:
Acts 10:43 – To him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. (RSV)
Now that is a real blessing. Those who have acknowledged Christ as Lord and Saviour are therefore forgiven!
Okay, now that I have worked through my need for forgiveness, have confessed my sin, have asked for forgiveness, and been forgiven because of Christ, I am really feeling better. For me, here is the finishing touch:
John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (RSV)
This Scripture carries me through thick and thin. Thanks be to God for this greatest gift: Christ!
Prayer: Lord God, in Your Son's name, forgive us when we stumble and fall. Forgive us for our sins of omission and commission, whether we know them or not. Thank You for Your peace that calms our spirits and makes us whole. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Let Us With A Gladsome Mind" (Lyrics)