Text: Lamentations 1:1-11, Psalm 51:1-6, Psalm 32:1-11
Last week I saw my husband and my sister give me the same exasperated look. I knew I was driving both of them crazy. I don’t listen and I push for my own way. I know it. But instead of sticking around to hear it in so many words, I hid in my office seeking the comfort of Samoas and Miles Davis.
I’m definitely spending my days looking for comfort: warm coffee, me time, a massage, a pedicure, even a hot bath. Our modern response to hard times is to look for physical comfort. If my soul is restless, I’m looking for my down comforter and Girl Scout cookies and sparkling grape juice.
I know that a bubble bath isn’t going to wash my soul, but aren’t you tempted to do the same thing? I want to dip my chin in lavender bubbles and forget that the only way to be truly clean is through repentance. Psalm 32 says that blessedness is in repentance: “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity” (v.5). “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (v.1).
We also scurry around trying to create life for ourselves through our super-fabulous accomplishments. I feel so much better when I’m a genius at work, a lovely wife, or the coolest mom. But does my life in the Kingdom actually have anything to do with my adorable talents? Our participation in the Kingdom of God is rooted in repentance, and all my busy actions and sacrifices are just that—business—unless my heart is willing to repent.
I need to repent even of my righteousness. My actions do not earn my salvation. (Psalm 51)
Finally, I seek life and comfort by defending, hiding and protecting myself. Is it your instinct to defend instead of repent when you encounter judgement? Years ago, when I was fresh out of college, I was accused of lying to my employer. Whether or not I’m a big liar is neither here nor there, but when I was brought before the big boss I sobbingly started to try to defend myself. He stopped me and told me I didn’t need to say a word in my own defense. He vouched for me, while I stood still and blew my nose on those rough brown paper napkins. That experience will stay with me forever—I don’t have to run to defend myself. Christ calls us to repentance, and He is our defender!
And what freedom could possibly come from offering my own defense? True freedom is in forgiveness. Repentance gives true life even in the midst of judgment. We really have only two choices when we encounter judgment: harden our hearts, or repent. The author of Lamentations always runs to repentance.
This is why there is hope, even in the book of Lamentations. Sin has brought wreckage upon Jerusalem, though she was once great. Her people are hungry, and in their famine and their sorrow they call out to the Lord. Matthew Henry writes, “In this sad condition Jerusalem acknowledged her sin, and entreated the Lord to look upon her case. This is the only way to make ourselves easy under our burdens; for it is the just anger of the Lord for man’s transgressions, that has filled the earth with sorrows, lamentations, sickness, and death.”
We need to be washed from our sin, and only God can do that. It is in our calling out to Him, in acknowledging our sin, that we can enjoy the freedom in being washed clean from our transgressions. Hard-heartedness just leads to more judgement, but repentance leads to life.
So when I long for peace and spiritual cleansing, instead of reaching for my comfort in a latte and a good sugar scrub, I have to cry out, “Wash me, Lord!” (Psalm 51:2)
Run to Him in repentance. Run to Him for peace. Because repentance gives life, and it’s a blessed sign of God’s grace and goodness.