For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:16-17)
King David wrote this psalm after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, one of his faithful soldiers. He then committed murder by arranging for Uriah to be killed in battle. God sent the prophet Nathan to tell David that God knew what he had done, and David repented of his sin. As a king, David could offer a multitude of sacrifices and burnt offerings, but he realized that none of this could truly atone for his sin. God was looking for a broken spirit and a changed heart.
Lord, forgive me of my sin. Give me the gift of true repentance, and keep me broken and humble before you.
We tend to run from sorrow or regret because we don’t like how horrible they make us feel. But sorrow for sin or regret for some foolish action of our past is a sign that we have grown in wisdom. Sorrow is the correct emotion for sin, so we shouldn’t run from the feeling but allow it to do its transformative work within us. Typically, we cannot undo the past, but we can learn from it. God uses sorrow and regret to spur us onward to a better life. So allow sorrow for sin full access to your soul and think of the sins of your past with full regret. Such feelings will not kill you, nor will God keep you locked forever in despair. God is kind and will bring you through. He will use your sorrow to restore you to a better life.