“Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” Psalm 32:11
Why can’t I ever seem to be happy? Many people seem to be plagued with unrelenting sorrow. They have tried incessantly to fill the hole inside with fun experiences, get togethers with friends, new clothes, video games, achievements and more… but the gnawing pangs of emptiness and detachment will not subside. What is keeping me from being happy?
While many fields of study and different types of organizations, religions and support communities offer answers and solutions to those questions, there is one weighty answer to the question that is almost never offered as a solution to the question- Why can’t I be happy? Even within many churches, this particular message eludes many who fill the pews, crack open their Bibles and sing songs that feel distant and unattainable to the troubled soul.
In this Psalm, a song written by David, the ancient King of Israel, he identifies a clear pathway to the gladness and joy that many long for but seems to elude them. David spells it out very clearly,
“Happy are those whose transgressions are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” Psalm 32:1
Those who know that their disobedience against God has been forgiven and their sins have been covered by the sacrificial work of Christ will be “happy.” David continues this thought,
“Happy is the one to whom the LORD does not charge with sin, in whose spirit there is no deceit.” Psalm 32:2.
Happiness (or “blessing,” as other translations put it) is knowing that God has forgiven you and does not hold your sin against you any longer. Many might rebut, saying, “Yes, yes, I know Jesus died on the cross for my sins… but I am still unhappy!” Ah, this may be true, but can you say that in your spirit, “there is no deceit”? Even the child of God who has been saved and adopted through faith in Christ may continue to feel the shackles of sin and hear the cackles of the Accuser (Satan), reminding us of our secret, deeply embedded shame.
David pulls back the curtain to reveal the wretched proclivity of his own soul, to harbor sin and to refuse to confess his iniquities to God. “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.” Psalm 32:3. See, even “a man after God’s own heart” can try to live a dual life, one that internally trapped in a habit or spin cycle of sin, yet outwardly promoting a flawless figurine of faith. Make no mistake, while God’s love for you is infinite, He will not be mocked, and He takes your unconfessed sin very seriously. “Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.” Psalm 32:4
Stop and take a no holds barred look at your soul; are you hiding or holding on to sin in your life? Unsure? Invite God’s Spirit into your heart, soul and mind to turn on His flashlight of holiness and give Him full permission to explore every darker corner, abandoned hallway and locked room of your inner self. This inspection invitation may be frightening and unsettling, but it is the only way to eliminate the subterraneous sense that your inner self is groaning and wasting away. As the light of God’s Holy Spirit exposes the darkness within you, do not fight it or try to divert or distract the twinges of anguish this unresolved sin is provoking. Instead, lean into that heart ache with a spirit of repentance.
“Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.” Psalm 32:5
This is the pain point that every human soul instinctively avoids. From the moment that sin entered into mankind, the desire to flee, hide, avoid and blame has been our default response to God’s holiness. Remember the familiar words of the first man, Adam, who had his sin laid bare before the God with whom he had always walked joyfully, “I heard Your voice in the garden,” he replied, “and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” Genesis 3:10.
David knew better and he “finally” brought ALL his sins to the Lord and stopped trying to hide his guilt. The pain point soon gave way to the turning point…“And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” Psalm 32:5b
All my guilt is gone! Hallelujah!! This is Good News! To be fully known, fully forgiven and fully loved is the purest fountain of unparalleled joy! If you have taken this step to be forgiven, covered and declared innocent from the charges of sin in your life, sing and shout praises to the Lord, for He has done great things!
Again, you may say, “But that’s not my problem, I don’t feel guilty about anything.” Did you know that it is possible to become so familiar and at home with your sin that you no longer feel the traditional emotions of guilt? As Paul explained to Timothy, “By ignoring their consciences, some people have destroyed their faith like a wrecked ship.” 1 Timothy 1:19. Your ship may not be wrecked yet, but if you continue to ignore your conscience, it will not be long until your faith crashes into rocks.
If you are claiming that sin is not a problem for you, it may be time to come to terms with the confrontational words of 1 John- “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8.
Are you ready to be honest with God? If you will lean into the pain point of acknowledging and confessing sin, they turning point is guaranteed to follow- “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. Do this today and see what God does for your spirit! Do it again tomorrow, and the day after that, and ever other day henceforth and stand amazed as the sorrow of guilt, shame and spiritual disconnectedness begin to evaporate like a puddle in the summer sun.
The end of your sorrow may only be a moment away. Fall at the foot of the cross and confess your sin to God. Bask in His unfailing love! Trust in His Gospel of grace which Jesus has made available for all who call upon His name. Rejoice! Be glad! Shout for joy! Obey God and live every day with a clean slate and a pure heart for Him!
“Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the LORD. So rejoice in the LORD and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!” Psalm 32:10-11