Thursday July 16, 2009
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"—and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Psalm 32:4-5.
I sleep soundly at night, but many people do not. When Ann asks me how I sleep so well, I answer that it’s due to contentment and a clear conscience. It’s true that I am content most of the time, but the latter part of my explanation is patently false! The closer our walk with the Lord the more troublesome our conscience becomes; the nearer to the light the more detail can be seen. So dealing with guilt is a major part of our lives, whether we feel guilty or even recognize our guilt. It can be ignored, suppressed or even forgotten, but still remains in our subconscious.
Guilt may express itself in a number of ways: a sense that something is not right; emptiness in the soul; irritability or an obsession with ethical causes: peace or the environment. It can be covered up by partying, drinking or drugs, work, or even endeavouring to live a “good” life. But it’s in the middle of the night when there are few distractions that fear of the future and death—prompted by guilt—may be the greatest. I remember hearing a girl once express: “we have overcome the taboos and mystery of sex, now we have to work on the next obstacle to life: death”!
Punishment may pay the debt that sin creates, but it does not erase the guilt; it only covers it. The only cure for guilt is forgiveness. But forgiveness is light years away if we do not recognize or we deny or rationalise it. The route to forgiveness is by acknowledging and confessing our guilt and repenting of our sin. We may rightly seek forgiveness from those we have wronged, but ultimate forgiveness is only available from the one who created us and who instilled our conscience and sense of justice. David, the psalmist, understood that, and for us there is the clear offer of forgiveness available at the cross.
Of course, there are a variety of other causes for sleeplessness, but if it is guilt, why would we ignore this gracious offer when the knowledge that our future can be settled is available to us? And there’s nothing like a good night’s sleep to prepare us for the stresses of the day.