For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy up- on me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
Our culture is infatuated with quick cures. We don’t like pain, emotional or physical. Pills are so available, and if they are not, we can escape our pain through addicting behaviors or substances. But pain is not our problem. It merely tells us something is wrong that needs to be remedied. (Pain can have other salutary benefits besides alerting us to a problem, but that’s a topic for another day.)
In this famous penitential Psalm, David is expressing physical symptoms of a spiritual problem. He is literally sick with guilt. Is his pain the problem? No, the guilt is. He needed to confess it, and he did, declaring, “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven.”
Before Luther encountered the grace of God, in which he felt like he had been reborn, he too felt the physical symptoms of a spiritual problem. His pain was self-inflicted—extreme fasting and denial, hours on his knees in prayer, self-flagellation. He had not sinned as brazenly as David did, and he was not trying to deny his sin as David did. Confession was not his problem. In fact, he never ceased confessing his sins. But the guilt was still there. What he needed was not the law, as David did, but the Gospel. We thank God that he not only found it, but that he also refocused the whole church on its guilt-relieving message.
If you are going through emotional or spiritual turmoil, which may or may not have physical symptoms, consider the source of the pain. Do you have un-confessed sin you are trying to hide from God and from yourself? Confess it. Trust in God’s mercy through Christ, who has atoned for your sin already. Go in peace.
Perhaps you have confessed endlessly, but still can’t find peace. Again, trust God’s mercy. The perfect Lamb of God became the perfect sacrifice in your place. If you believe God is perfect then don’t doubt His Word, which cannot err, that in Christ is abundant mercy. Now go in peace. (If you still have physical pain that is not a symptom of spiritual turmoil, trust Him to help you bear up under it. He has another purpose for your pain—that you may grow in faith and bear witness to his faithfulness in your life.)
Pastor Tom Konz