Sting of Guilt


My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. Psalm 38:4

I have eye drops which relieve the discomfort caused by allergies.  It’s silly, but I don’t always use these drops even though I know it will ease the symptoms.  I just keep suffering with the itching.  The drops sting at first, but that quickly subsides and my eyes feel refreshed.  We tend to behave the same way when it comes to guilt.  We know that God will forgive us, but we just keep suffering with the symptoms of guilt because pride makes it difficult to admit we’ve messed up.

David had messed up and the effects of guilt consumed his life.  He was a man after God’s own heart, yet he sinned and then had to face the consequences of those sins.  The burden of his guilt was so great that he suffered physical pain.   Psalm 38:7 says, “My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body.”  Then in verse 10 David says, “My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes.”  Guilt was causing an assortment of symptoms.  Even the sparkle in his eyes had vanished.   Does any of this sound familiar?  I know guilt has caused many of these symptoms for me over the years.  Upset stomach, tension headaches, tight achy muscles, inability to concentrate, sleepless nights, heart palpitations, lack of joy for life, and many other conditions may be due to guilt.

Unfortunately, David’s suffering did not end with physical and emotional symptoms, He also suffered socially.  In verse 11 he says, “My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbors stay far away.”   So not only do we suffer with what our own thoughts and guilt are doing to our body, but we may actually be rejected by those we love, as well as suffering public humiliation in general like David.

So what can we do when we find ourselves suffering the sting of guilt?

  • Hope – “For I hope in You, O LORD; You will answer, O Lord my God” (Psalms 38:15).  David knew he had made mistakes and was in over his head.  He realized that his only hope was found in God.   Don’t give up hope.
  • Confess – “I confess my iniquity: I am troubled by my sin” (Psalms 38:18).  The sting of guilt led David to seek God’s forgiveness.  Confess the sins which are causing your feelings of guilt.
  • Change – “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin”(Psalms 39:1).  David chose to guard his heart from the sins of his past.  Recognize your sin and work to change your ways.
  • Pray – “Hear my prayer, O Lord, listen to my cry for help”(Psalms 39:12).  David was in distress over his sin and sought God’s help.  Pray and ask God to help you change.
  • Praise – “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God” (Psalms 40:3).  Praise God for the work He is doing in your life.

Like David, we all make mistakes, and we often suffer from symptoms of guilt, but don’t let your pride stand between you and God. Pride prevents us from seeking forgiveness right away, but once we take that step of repentance, we can experience a refreshed relationship with Him.

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One thought on “Sting of Guilt

  1. Oh, yes–the sting of pride, which irritates our spirits when we need to ask forgiveness from another person, too. I love your eyedrop analogy. If I’ll just focus on the improved relationship and refreshing peace that will result, I should be more motivated to seek the forgiveness I need. Thank you, Tresa!


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