I recently heard from a young man who confessed that he had gotten into some serious trouble when he was in college some years ago. He asked for prayer because to this day, his sins were "haunting" him, and hindering him from finding the kind of job he longed for. My heart went out to him, and I did my best to encourage him, and to pray for him the way I thought the Lord would want me to.
I have known many people who have been in this man's situation, and I have been there myself. I have learned that if we will wholeheartedly repent for our sins, and turn away from them, the Lord will work wonders on our behalf. Even so, we can't expect God to erase all of the earthly consequences of our sinful actions, just because we say we're sorry. After all, His Word makes it clear that we will reap what we sow. (Galatians 6:7-8) If the Lord did erase all the negative results of our bad behavior, human nature being what it is, we would have little reason to obey Him. Instead, for our own sakes, the Lord allows us to suffer the natural consequences of our own actions. In this way, we have a better chance of seeing just how ugly and destructive sin actually is. That being said, we mustn't forget that our God is a God of infinite mercy and love. He can see our hearts, and He knows when we are truly repentant, and when He can pour out His mercy upon us.
And it's very scriptural to pray for His mercy. In Psalm 25, David says: "Remember, O Lord, Your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to Your love remember me, for You are good, O Lord." (Psalm 25:6-7 NIV) Even David had sins in his past that were "haunting" him, and he pleaded with God for His mercy. This takes great humility, and the Lord always responds favorably to those who humble themselves in this way. David goes on to say: "Good and upright is the Lord, therefore He instructs sinners in His ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way." (Psalm 25:8-9 NIV) Because God is a good and righteous God, when we humble ourselves before Him in prayer and repentance, He will give us the wisdom and power to live a godly life, and to walk in the paths of His greatest blessings.
I told the young man who wrote me that I believed the Lord would eventually rescue him from his troubles. But I also told him that first, he would probably have to endure a period of humbly waiting upon God, so that the Lord could do a work in his heart that couldn't be done any other way. And I shared the following verses with him: "Rejoice not against me, O my enemy! When I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light to me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against Him, until He pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold His righteous deliverance." (Micah 7:8-9 NIV) Because this young man was a child of God, and because he had put his trust in Christ, the Lord was committed to fighting - and winning - his battles for him. I reminded him that Scripture promises, "Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving." (1 Samuel 14:6 NIV) So no matter how bleak his circumstances looked now, God was more than able to deliver him.
If you can relate to this man's situation, and you are suffering the dreadful consequences of your past sin, remember - it's not forever. God's on your side, and He's going to get you out of this! (Micah 7:9 MSG)
Prayer: Lord, today I ask You to forgive me for those sins in my past that have grieved You. Reveal Your mercy to me this day in comforting and reassuring ways. When I have to bear the negative consequences of my wrongdoing, please give me the grace to do so with a right attitude. Thank You that as I continue to seek and serve You with all my heart, I will witness Your miracle-working power on my behalf!
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