Psalm 51:5-6 I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there.
Most versions use the words truth or integrity in place of honesty. Some say from the heart, or inner being or inward parts instead of “from the womb.” The point is clear: radical facing up to the facts, from the inside out.
God gave this to me this morning as a way forward with the grief I’ve been carrying over our devastating sins as a nation (touched on in yesterday’s blog post). Confession is consistent with God’s desire for our honesty. I’m looking again at Nehemiah’s mourning and praying over Israel (Nehemiah 1), aligning his heart with God’s as David did in Psalm 51 after his terrible sins over Bathsheba, to the point of shedding blood.
This morning when I woke up, I found myself asking God for forgiveness for anyone in my family tree who may have participated in attitude or actions against other people as part of America’s story. I simply don’t know our family track record. But I do know that many who have claimed the name of God have sinned against him by showing favoritism within his family, to the extremes of hatred and oppression and violence.
If you too are grieved over the story of our country, past and present, you can join me in Nehemiah’s prayer:
O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands, listen to my prayer! Look down and see me praying night and day for your people. I confess that we have sinned against you. Yes, even my own family [at least, my spiritual family] and I have sinned! We have sinned terribly by not obeying the commands that you gave us [here I am substituting Jesus for Moses: Jesus’ command to love] . . . O Lord, listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you.
Teach us your wisdom, Lord. Purify, wash, cleanse, forgive, and restore us. “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God” (Psalm 51:17). Thank you, Lord, for showing me that all of this is part of why Jesus went to the cross.