Drowning in the Sea of Guilt - May 2023

by Pastor Pete Panitzke on May 25, 2023

Near the end of our New Testament reading (Luke 8:1-25), the disciples are afraid they are going to drown in the Sea of Galilee. Jesus rebuked the winds and waves and then asked his disciples, “Where is your faith?”

It is unlikely that I will be terrified by the waves of the Sea of Galilee, but I often find myself terrified by waves in the Sea of Guilt.

I think King David saw frightening waves on his own Sea of Guilt. He committed adultery with Bathsheba. Through the prophet Nathan, the LORD graciously called him to repentance. He heard the wonderful words, “The LORD has taken away your sin.” (Read 2 Samuel 12-13).

But that’s not where the story ends!

There are consequences of his sin.

  • “The sword will never depart from your house.”
  • “The son born to you will die.”

These consequences are not punishment. “The LORD has taken away your sin.” Yet, as David experienced these sad consequences, can you see the waves of guilt that would overwhelm him?

  • The child born to Bathsheba dies.
  • Tamar is raped.  
  • Amnon murdered.
  • Absalom in exile.

And this is just the beginning. In the coming days we will read that two of David’s sons rebel against him and try to become king.

With each new event, the waves in the Sea of Guilt would become larger and larger. “Master, we are going to drown!”
With each new event, King David would have to go back to the Savior’s words and claim them anew, like spoken to him that very day: “The LORD has taken away your sin.”

“Master, we are going to drown!” This is my cry as I look back and see how often people have suffered as a result of my sins.

  • Unloving words leaving wounds on the hearts of those I love.
  • Faith questioned when a family member or friend sees hypocrisy in my actions.

"Master, we are going to drown!" This is my cry as God allows me to deal with on-going consequences from sins of the past. Some days the waves of guilt are like mountains. 

Daily I take this trip to the empty tomb in my Bible reading. Daily I look into the tomb and see that the One who died for me has risen. I am forgiven. Daily, he calms the storms in my heart with the promise: “The LORD has taken away your sin.”

Prayer: Lord Jesus, let your Word and Sacraments calm the Sea of Guilt that rages in my heart. Let me daily confess my guilt, both the new sins of the day and the remembered sins of long ago. My faith is weak. Give me strength to daily claim anew your forgiveness. May your grace be the safe ark that will take me safely to the other shore. Amen.

Join David and sing in your heart this song as the Lord Jesus stills the storm on the Sea of Guilt.  
Blessed is the one
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
    whose sin the LORD does not count against them
    and in whose spirit is no deceit.
When I kept silent,
    my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
    your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
    as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
    and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
    my transgressions to the LORD.”
And you forgave
    the guilt of my sin.
Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
    while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
    will not reach them.
You are my hiding place;
    you will protect me from trouble
    and surround me with songs of deliverance.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
    which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
    or they will not come to you.
10 Many are the woes of the wicked,
    but the LORD’s unfailing love
    surrounds the one who trusts in him.
11 Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous;
    sing, all you who are upright in heart! (Psalm 32)


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