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God’s Word is perfect in every way; how it revives our souls! His laws lead us to truth, and his ways change the simple into wise. His teachings make us joyful and radiate his light; his precepts are so pure! His commands, how they challenge us to keep close to his heart! The revelation-light of his word makes my spirit shine radiant.
Psalm 19:7-8 TPT
Throughout the Bible, the word “truth” is often associated with the imagery of light.
Light is good! It brings us clarity (Matthew 6:22-23), provides hope (Matthew 5:14-16), and helps us be closer to God and each other (1 John 1:5-7). The above scripture tells us how we can access truth and light—through God’s Word. According to this psalm, God’s Word revives us, leads us to truth, changes us, makes us joyful and radiant, and most importantly, brings us closer to God.
Though this all sounds great in theory, I don’t always see truth and light as good—especially when I need to face three specific painful emotions: guilt, fear, and weakness. When I don’t want to be honest with myself about one of these three areas, I begin to think that light is painful and exposing, and I avoid it at all costs.
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
John 3:19-21 NIV
Sooner or later, we all come up against truths about ourselves that feel too difficult to face, and we will have to make a choice about how to handle them. Either we will face and expose these truths, or we will run from the light—which usually involves hiding, lying, ignoring the truth, making excuses for ourselves, or blaming others for our choices instead of taking responsibility.
While these solutions might feel better in the moment, they won’t bring clarity, hope, forgiveness, or the ability to change. The goal of facing a painful truth is not to beat ourselves up or wallow in self-hatred; the goal is to find freedom, strength, and/or reconciliation. The truth won’t go away just because we try to hide it. We can only move forward if we face it.
God’s Word can give us the courage and strength to be honest with ourselves so we can grow.
When I believe God’s promises that he will stick with me, take away my guilt, and help me grow and move forward, I have the courage to face the painful truths about myself that I would otherwise avoid. To be honest with myself and grow, I need to trust God’s Word over my emotions and continually look to the Bible to correct my thinking about who God is and what he promises.
David is a great example of someone who embraced painful truths about himself and grew because he chose to believe God’s promises. Many of the following promises in this devotional are from psalms that David wrote. They show both his struggle and his victories in seeing truths about himself and trusting God’s promises of forgiveness, help, and guidance. We can use these psalms as a guide for ourselves when we need to find the courage to come into the light and grow.
Facing our guilt: God promises forgiveness
One type of truth that can be very painful to face is guilt. Guilt is an emotion that signals we have done something wrong, and it can actually be a healthy thing to feel (even though it’s unpleasant) because it prompts us to make things right. It’s like a “check engine” light on our car dashboard; it lets us know that something needs attention and we’ll save ourselves a lot of trouble if we acknowledge that.
In some cases, we feel guilty when we didn’t really do anything wrong, but it’s still important to admit how we feel. If we don’t, we will miss out on much-needed perspective and carry guilt around with us unnecessarily.
Fools make fun of guilt, but the godly acknowledge it and seek reconciliation.
Proverbs 14:9 NLT
Just as it would be unwise to ignore a “check engine” light, the Bible tells us it’s foolish to make fun of guilt. Making fun of guilt means pretending it isn’t there, which is foolish because pretending we don’t feel guilty won’t take our guilt away. Only God can free us from guilt:
Generous in love—God, give grace! Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record. Scrub away my guilt, soak out my sins in your laundry. I know how bad I’ve been; my sins are staring me down.
 You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen it all, seen the full extent of my evil. You have all the facts before you; whatever you decide about me is fair. I’ve been out of step with you for a long time, in the wrong since before I was born. What you’re after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.
 Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.
Psalm 51:1-3,4-6,16-17 MSG
Look at all the descriptions of who God is in these verses: generously loving, merciful, fair, searching for truth, and life-giving. God puts all of those characteristics and more to use when we have to be honest with ourselves about our guilt.
On top of all that, he can scrub our guilt away and help us start anew. We don’t have to walk around with shame and guilt from the past weighing us down. He gives us a new life when we have the humility to see the truth about our insides.
One of the most memorable times I experienced this forgiveness was when I was dating my now-wife (then girlfriend) and had to admit I was being emotionally unfaithful to her. It started with just trying to be the “funny guy” in my classes, really liking when I got the girls around me to laugh at my jokes. Then I got increasingly flirtatious with a different girl in every class, chasing after feeling good about myself in any way I could. I didn’t tell my girlfriend any of this and I felt guilty about it, but I would rationalize my guilt away by telling myself I wasn’t doing anything with these girls and I was just being friendly.
Eventually, my guilt overwhelmed me; all my hiding and lying made it difficult to connect with God or be close to my girlfriend and I knew I needed to be honest about what I was doing. I told her the truth about everything, and I’ll never forget her telling me that she felt like she had been stabbed in the back. That shattered any pride I had left. I had to face my guilt and see myself for who I truly was—not a “good guy” who was just being friendly in class, but a selfish guy who was using people and didn’t care about how I hurt them.
It was painful to face that truth and the consequences of my choices, but I’m glad I did. The truth helped me change. It helped me see that I needed God and I needed forgiveness. I needed God’s guidance in my life and I needed to live by his Word, because living by my own desires had nearly destroyed everything I cared about.
Though I didn’t deserve it, my girlfriend decided to stay with me and we worked together to rebuild our relationship on truth and light. We learned to be honest about our guilt, which brought deeper intimacy with each other and with God. We started learning to help each other overcome our temptations instead of letting them overtake us.
Our relationship got better and stronger, and eventually we got married. Facing the truth about my heart and my choices has helped us build a much stronger marriage than we otherwise would have.
When I feel guilty, it is still easy to believe I am unforgivable or beyond repair, but God promises to wipe away my guilt and love me. It helps me to read Psalm 51 as I pray about guilt, making David’s words my own. Instead of believing my fears and emotions, I decide to believe the promises of God—that he will give me love and mercy when I am honest.
Pause and reflect
What do you feel most guilty about in your life right now? Take time to pray about it honestly. Use Psalm 51 as a guide so you don’t get overwhelmed by your emotions as you pray.
Facing our fear: God promises to lift us out of the pit
Sometimes, the “painful truth” we need to face is our fear. Fear is uncomfortable, so we often deny that we have it by searching for ways to make it go away. I’ve tried many different tactics to avoid facing my fear:
Numbing: I avoid my fears by looking for ways to stop feeling anything at all. I seek pleasure to distract myself and bury my fear as deep as I can.
Taking control: I take action to prevent and control my fears. I overplan, overthink, and over-prepare for situations as a way to prevent feeling anxious.
Getting angry: I get mad at how fear makes me feel and at anyone who seems to trigger it in my life. My anger is an attempt to push fear away.
Avoiding: I avoid feeling afraid by staying away from anything that makes me stressed, worried, or anxious. I settle for a small life, never taking risks and never pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
Instead of using all these tactics, we can admit to God that we don’t have courage, like David did in Psalm 40:
I waited patiently for the LORD. He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of destruction, out of the sticky mud. He stood me on a rock and made my feet steady. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many people will see this and worship him. Then they will trust the LORD.Happy is the person who trusts the LORD, who doesn’t turn to those who are proud or to those who worship false gods.
 I do not hide your goodness in my heart; I speak about your loyalty and salvation. I do not hide your love and truth from the people in the great meeting.
 Troubles have surrounded me; there are too many to count. My sins have caught me so that I cannot see a way to escape. I have more sins than hairs on my head, and I have lost my courage. Please, LORD, save me. Hurry, LORD, to help me.
Psalm 40:1-4,10,12-13 NCV
Without courage, we begin to feel like we are stuck in a pit of destruction. We can’t see a way to escape our troubles or our sins. We start to get fears like,
What if this never changes?
What if I can never get out of this?
What if I try something and fail?
What if my worst-case scenario happens?
The reason I want to ignore these fears is they are too big for me to climb over by myself. I don’t think there is any hope of being free from them, so I settle for avoiding, controlling, numbing, or deflecting them onto others.This is a problem because I tend to shrink back, take control, or mistrust others without even realizing I’m doing it.
I was sharing this with a friend of mine one time and he said he felt the same way. So we decided to partner up and tackle our fear together. We would do this by asking each other regularly, “Are you doing this (or saying that or reacting in this way) because you’re afraid?”
While it was helpful to have someone slow me down so I could be honest with myself, it happened so frequently that at one point I bursted out, “YES! I AM AFRAID! I AM AFRAID OF EVERYTHING!”
It was hard to face the truth of how afraid I was of failure, of other people’s opinions, of feeling out of control, and many other things. I felt angry and annoyed every time my friend asked about my fear because I was trying hard to push the truth away. But after this angry outburst, my friend helped me learn to share my fears with God and other people close to me. When I did that, God helped me move past my fears so I felt I was standing on solid rock.
I’ve told God more times than I can remember that I feel like I am in a pit and I can’t get out. When I feel guilty or ashamed about my sins, I lose courage. I am constantly afraid of what people think and that I might lose standing or their respect because I am not “perfect.” But people can’t get me out of the pit of fear; it’s God’s love, truth, and goodness that lift me out and steady my heart to not be overrun by my fear.
Pause and reflect
What or who do you look to when you need relief from fear? Why?
In what area of your life or in what relationship have you lost courage?
Facing our weaknesses: God promises to guide us
O my God, in You I [have unwavering] trust [and I rely on You with steadfast confidence], Do not let me be ashamed or my hope in You be disappointed; Do not let my enemies triumph over me.
 Guide me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You [and only You] I wait [expectantly] all the day long.  Remember, O LORD, Your [tender] compassion and Your lovingkindnesses, For they have been from of old.  Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; According to Your lovingkindness remember me, For Your goodness’ sake, O LORD.
 All the paths of the LORD are lovingkindness and goodness and truth and faithfulness To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.
 Turn to me [LORD ] and be gracious to me, For I am alone and afflicted.  The troubles of my heart are multiplied; Bring me out of my distresses.  Look upon my affliction and my trouble, And forgive all my sins.
 Guard my soul and rescue me; Do not let me be ashamed or disappointed, For I have taken refuge in You.
Psalm 25:2,5-7,10,16-18,20 AMP
God does not abandon us or leave us alone when we feel distressed or afflicted. In fact, the more we admit how weak we feel, the more we will see God for who he really is.
God is loving, kind, faithful, gracious, tender, and compassionate. When we have a painful truth we need to face about how weak or helpless we feel, God provides grace and we can trust him because we know and believe who he really is.
When my wife and I started our journey to grow our family, we experienced infertility. We saw a number of doctors, ran many tests, and no one could give us an answer as to why we could not get pregnant. It was very frustrating.
We went through years of being heartbreakingly patient, watching many close friends of ours have their first child and then their second. I felt so weak because there seemed to be nothing we could do to change our situation.
I had to keep crying out to God on many occasions and sharing these painful feelings of weakness with him. It hurt that having a child was beyond our ability, while others had children with ease. It felt like it was all luck, and we were unlucky.
In my pain and weakness, I often felt like God was distant and wondered if he cared about our lives or had a good plan for us. Luckily, I had many friends in my life who continually shared scriptures with me to remind me of the truth about God—that he cared about us even though things weren’t going the way we hoped.
As my wife and I prayed from a place of utter weakness about our heart’s desire to have a child, God began to reveal to us the possibility of adoption. He guided us through an up-and-down journey, reaffirming in our hearts that he would never leave us. He was by our side every step of the way, working on our behalf and bringing us to an incredible destiny.
Now we can look at that time of weakness with gratitude because we know God was shaping us through our journey into people who champion adoption as a way of bringing families together.
Remembering God’s qualities is really important for me. In my guilt, fear, and weakness, I can convince myself that God is cold, distant, doesn’t have the time for me personally, or doesn’t have a plan for my life. When I allow thoughts and feelings like these to guide me, I do not want to see painful truths because I don’t see what good can come from them. But when I allow God and his lovingkindness to guide me, I know that I am in good hands and can face anything that comes my way.
Pause and reflect
What emotions distort your view of God? Why?
What scriptures can you save to remind you of God’s qualities and promises?
The biggest reason we face painful truths in our lives is to grow closer to God. We can trust that God will remove our guilt and shame, lift us out of the pit we find ourselves in, and guide us to his truth. The promises he gives us in the Bible can correct any negative thoughts we might have about him and remind us of his kindness, love, and compassion. With a God like this guiding us, we can face truths about ourselves regularly because we know that he will lead us toward his good plans for our lives.