March 6, 2020
20 “Lord, see my anguish!
My heart is broken
and my soul despairs,
for I have rebelled against you.
In the streets the sword kills,
and at home there is only death.
21 “Others heard my groans,
but no one turned to comfort me.
When my enemies heard about my troubles,
they were happy to see what you had done.
Oh, bring the day you promised,
when they will suffer as I have suffered.
22 “Look at all their evil deeds, Lord.
as you have punished me
for all my sins.
My groans are many,
and I am sick at heart.”
Here we are at another Friday – and another pocket devotional devoted to the season of Lent. Today, we are looking at confession. For centuries the church has used the weeks leading up to Easter as an opportunity to clean our spiritual houses. We allow God into the dusty rooms of our souls so we can see if there is anything separating us from Him. Confession is a concept we are most familiar with in the context of courtroom dramas and spy novels. It often appears at the apex of the action or mystery and usually, justice quickly follows. The criminal is led away in chains or the evil plot unravels once the truth is known. This type of confession is critically important to our understanding of the gospel because in many ways we cannot hope for transformation if we refuse to acknowledge our starting point. Through ignorance or malice, we are perpetrators of evil. Letting the truth come to light is often a step in experiencing God’s transforming grace. It’s why Paul says in Ephesians 5:8-13:
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.
We see Jerusalem engage in this type of confession in verse 20. She confesses that her soul despairs because she has rebelled against God. In the same way, as we confess our own rebellion, we participate in the work God is doing – transforming our darkness to light.
Perhaps because we are so used to this legal context of confession, we sometimes miss (or neglect) a second way to confess. It’s even been said that it’s not the courtroom style confession that initiates God’s redemptive work in our hearts, but it’s actually this second type that is the first step in our transformation. It’s found in Romans 10:9:
If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Both types of confession have, at their core, the understanding that speaking the truth carries a spiritual and emotional weight that should not be underestimated. While one is a confession of the truth of who we are, the second is the confession of who God is. In verse 21 of Lamentations 1, Jerusalem makes this type of confession as well – saying, “Bring the day you promised…” in other words – do what only you can do. Confessing Jesus as Lord is acknowledging that there are many things that only He can do. It’s both a declaration and an invitation for God to be, well, God. Today, I hope you take time for both types of confession. But if you only have time for one, confess the truth of who God is. If you need help with that type of confession, try reading Psalm 145.