Talitha Arnold: The Strength of Repentance

"While I kept silence, my body wasted away. . . then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity." - Psalm 32:3-5

"We're only as sick as our secrets" is a tenet of 12-step programs. A few thousand years ago, the author of Psalm 32 affirmed the same truth. Silent before God about whatever harm he had done or good he had left undone, his "body wasted away," his "strength dried up by the heat of the summer." But when he finally broke the silence and shared his shadows with God, he found not only forgiveness, but blessing and even joy. 

There's power in repentance, if only because we don't have to spend all that energy hiding from ourselves or others, including God. As Frederick Buechner affirms, "To confess your sins to God is not to tell God anything God doesn't already know. Until you confess them, however, they are the abyss between you. When you confess them, they become the bridge." As the Psalmist learned through his confession, God "forgave me the guilt of my sin." 

The Psalmist also learned what's on the other side of repentance. "Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart." To hear Buechner again: "True repentance spends less time looking at the past and saying, 'I'm sorry,' than to the future and saying 'Wow!'"


Give us the strength, O God, to trust you with our lives and through that trust, to find your new life. Wow! (And amen.)


From UCC's StillSpeaking devotionals