‘Poor Pauline,’ my sister sympathised, ‘you always have something to worry about.’
That was many years ago, when I was struggling through those awful teen age years, but I am so very thankful that I have been able to shake off those chains of self-condemnation, though yet able to feel deep sympathy for those who still carry the weight of such fetters.
You see, I suffered from depression, and whenever I felt this smothering blanket I would search my heart to try to find out what I had done to cause me to feel condemned, or what I was supposed to be worrying about. And being a teenager it wasn’t long before I thought of something I had or hadn’t done.
Well, today I still am afflicted with physical depression, though infrequently I am thankful to say. I have just returned from a Bible Explorer lesson in the school. I was so conscious of God’s help, and have returned home feeling how privileged I am to be able to do something so enjoyable; but of course, exhausted now, the headache and depression has returned. Oh, how thankful I am that I do not have to search my heart to see how I have sinned.
Yes, of course I have sinned. We have all committed sins of omission as well as commission, but thank God I now know that he sent his Son, Jesus, to carry all my sins to the cross and they are now buried in the depth of the sea. As King David wrote in the psalms, ‘There is forgiveness with you that you might be feared.’ And that is how it is that God can use such as I am to take God’s love into the schools and among my neighbours.
‘Jesus the name to sinners dear, the name to sinners given, It scatters all our guilty fear, it turns our hell to heaven.’
It is our very feelings of condemnation that give us the biggest claim on God, and must never ever be allowed to keep us away from him. But I guess we all need a little revision over this matter of forgiveness.
There was an occasion when, far from home, I had a problem of relationship. I was sure I was the one to blame, but a friend replied, ‘When I have a problem I am always convinced it is the other person who is to blame.’
Of course, the blame is never all on one side. We are all sinners, so no one is ever wholly in the right.
I was deeply comforted when I received a letter in which a friend who, realising the problem, gently implied that he understood and did not blame me. Through his words God gave me the assurance that I was not condemned. He spoke to me through Paul’s words in Romans 8:
‘There is no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus ……
It was not long after that I was dancing around my house, singing out these life affirming words.
It goes on, 'for the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.'