Despair because of stumbling

St. Isaac of Syria wrote:

Do not fall into despair because of stumblings. I do not mean that you should not feel contrition for them, but that you should not think them incurable. For it is more expedient to be bruised than dead. There is, indeed, a Healer for the man who has stumbled, even He Who on the Cross asked that mercy be shown to His crucifiers, He Who pardoned His murderers while He hung on the Cross. ‘All manner of sin,’ He said, ‘and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men,’ that is, through repentance. For a brief moment of mourning he pardoned Simon who had denied Him, and after His resurrection He commanded him to become the head of His flock. Three times He asked him, ‘Lovest thou Me?’ on account of his threefold denial of Him, so as to confirm his pardon. Christ came in behalf of sinners, to heal the broken of heart and to bandage their wounds.” (Homily 64)

You know, there is a kind of confession that is genuinely contrite over sins — not because we feel pain over our disloyalty and lack of love for Christ our God, but because we are frustrated and know we could have avoided these acts or words. We are really confessing, “This was unacceptable, because I know I am better than this!” Our confession is coming from our wounded ego. It’s an exercise in pride.

And God may be choosing at this time not to deliver us from our besetting sins, precisely because this painful, repeated experience has not yet humbled us enough so we will stop believing we are not that bad.