Repentance (Step 3)

Mourning is a necessary part of the process of repentance. Until you’ve had your heart broken and have been crushed under the weight of your circumstances, you can’t fully appreciate the blessings of the LORD. Often times, a traumatic experience serves as a painful reminder of the past that we would like to leave behind. At some point, we will be ready to let go and the pain will begin to subside as hope is restored and we are able to remember there was good along with the bad that we experienced.

Lamentations 3:19-20 shows us that remembering our times of distress has a purpose, to make us humble. It says, “Remember my afflictions and my misery, the wormwood and the gall, my soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.” The Hebrew word translated humbled, shuwach (shoo´ – akh) means to sink (7743). Shuwach is also translated as bow down as in to show reverence or respect to someone. I think the best way to express this is to fall down in worship or to sink to one’s knees in prayer.

After you have expressed godly sorrow, and restored your relationship with the LORD, you will start to remember the good things he has done for you. Sometimes it takes an intentional effort to see the good within the bad, but it is there if you want to find it. It says in Lamentations 3:21-23:

This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD’s  mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

To be consumed means that something is completed or finished, “with nothing else expected or intended” (8552). This kind of attitude can cause us to give up and think there is not point in going on.

In Lamentations 3:22 it says, “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” Essentially, what this is saying is that God is without end, therefore he cannot stop loving us. His love for us continues without any end to it. What we need to realize, and will if we truly repent, is that God has not left us, we have left him. God is faithful, completely reliable, because “that which He once said He has maintained” (530). He does everything he says he’s going to, even the bad, as well as the good.

It may seem like taking matters into our own hands is going to work out well, but in the long run, only God can accomplish that which is necessary for our salvation. His plan is perfect and will yield the best result. It says in Lamentations 3:25-26, ” The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.” Understanding that God’s timing is not the same as our timing is essential for repentance to be effective. As  we wait for the LORD we see that he is still working and will not let us move on until we’re ready according to his standard, which is perfection.

Count your blessings

“What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits towards me?” (Psalm 116:12). The word translated render, shûwb (shoob) means “‘to return or go back, bring back.’ The basic meaning of this verb is movement back to the point of departure” (7725). The question the Psalmist was asking was answered in the next verse of his psalm. “I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD” (Psalm 116:13). What the Psalmist was saying was that he would enter into a relationship with the LORD because the LORD had blessed him.

It makes sense to have a relationship with someone that is good to you. God’s goodness is shown through his blessings. God’s first command to man was “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). Although all of God’s creation is subject to him (Psalm 114:3-8), God does not violate the free will of man by causing man to serve him. Only those who accept God’s gift of salvation and call upon his name are expected to serve God.

Rendering something to someone can be thought of as an exchange, like exchanging presents at Christmastime. If you give me a gift, I will want to give you a gift in return. The problem with giving a gift to God is he already owns everything. There is nothing we can give him that he doesn’t already own, including our lives. What we are doing when we give our lives to God is really giving it back to him. We are returning to him his possession.

It says in Psalm 115:12-13, “The LORD hath been mindful of us; he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron. He will bless them that fear the LORD, both small and great.” To fear God means to give him reverence, to render to him the respect he deserves (3372). The small and great are those who are of value or important to God (1419) and those who are of no account, those who are insignificant or the least in his estimation (6994).  What this is saying is that God treats everyone equal in regards to his blessing. Whether you are an Israelite, a priest in the house of God, or a janitor, God will bless you if you show him proper respect.

The word translated mindful, yâkar (yaw – kar´) means “to mark (so as to recognize)” (2142). Another way to interpret the word yakar is to remember someone or to think about her on a continual basis. The phrase “cup of salvation” is often thought to be related to the cup of the Passover meal referred to in Matthew 26:27. Jesus commanded his disciples, “this do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). The last supper was an opportunity for followers of Jesus to enter into a new covenant that would result in blessing for anyone that accepted him as Savior. I believe the blessing of God is such that it increases over time or as you mature in your relationship with him. You can know how close you are to the LORD  by counting your blessings.

Unbroken

“And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months” (2 Samuel 2:11). The seven and a half years that David reigned in Hebron were filled with conflict. A power struggle between David and Saul’s son Ish-bosheth was fueled by Abner’s refusal to give up his position as captain of Saul’s army. Over time, the conflict took a toll on David and at the low point of his effort to take control of the entire nation, David wrote Psalm 77.

David said, “In the day of my trouble I sought the LORD; my sore ran in the night and ceased not: My soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled. I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah” (Psalm 77:2-3). David was no doubt describing a sleepless night in which he tossed and turned and could not rest. His descriptive words make it clear that he was at a breaking point, unable to reconcile his situation with his vision of becoming king.

Psalm 77 captures a turning point in David’s struggle. After asking the questions, Hath God forgotten to be gracious? and Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies?, David forces himself to focus on God’s previous track record of delivering his people. David said, “I will remember the works of the LORD: Surely I will remember the wonders of old. I will meditate also of  all thy work, and talk of thy doings” (Psalm 77:11-12).

The things David likely remembered were the plagues God brought on Egypt in order to deliver his people and his parting of the Red Sea when the Israelites were being chased by Pharaoh and his army. God used miracles to draw attention to his deliverance of his people so that his name would become famous throughout the world. David asked the rhetorical question, “Who is so great a God as our God?” as a reminder that nothing was impossible with God.

David’s breaking point became a turning point because he did not forget God’s promise. God’s promises are not like the promises we make. God’s word cannot be broken. Whenever God speaks, it is as if a promise is being made and divine power is released in order accomplish what has been spoken. The creation of the world is the best example of the power in God’s words. “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light” (Genesis 1:3).