Thoughts on Sin Cancer and Chemotherapy for the Soul



February 24, 2021

Psalm 32

To the tune of “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus” 87.87 D
Sing it at

1 Bless-ed is the man whose sin is
covered over by the Lord;
Whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose guilt God does not record.
2 Bless-ed is the man whose sin the
Lord does not count against him;
In whose spirit there is not found
cruel deceit deep down within.

3 When I held my sin inside me,
and kept silent in my way,
Then my bones grew weak and wasted
through my groaning all the day.
4 For Your hand was heavy on me;
day and night, my strength did lapse;
Sapped away as in the heat of
summer’s hot, lethargic grasp

5 Then I told You of my sin and
did not hide iniquity;
I said, “I’ll confess my trespass”—
You forgave, purged guilt from me.
6 Therefore, let the godly pray to
You while You may still be found;
Surely waters will not reach me,
when with might they surge around.

7 For You are my place of hiding,
You protect me from all strife;
And with songs of Your deliv’rance,
You surround and keep my life.
8 “I will teach and will instruct you
in the way that you should go;
I will counsel and watch o’er you,
the right path to you I’ll show”

9 Don’t be like the horse or mule who
do not understand at all;
They’re controlled by bit and bridle,
or won’t come when you do call.
10 Many are woes of the wicked,

but the Lord’s unfailing love
11 does surround the ones who trust Him.
Sing! Rejoice in God above!


Anytime someone we love gets diagnosed with cancer, we all have three major sequential questions: Is it curable? Has it spread? Following surgery to remove cancer, we ask the third question: Did they get it all?

One of the things I appreciate about Song 32 is the way it characterizes sin. So often we limit sin to categories of morality, of good and evil. It’s actually more than that. Sin is sickness. Sin is the cancer of the soul. It is fiercely malignant and unyieldingly terminal. Sin cancer gets all of us in the end, for sin is to death as free radicals are to cancer. The even bigger devastation of sin cancer is that it can kill us before we die. Take another look at the second stanza in today’s reading.

The good news: there is a remedy for cancer. The cure is confession. It has a 100-percent cure rate.

I used to think confession was a form of admitting what a loser I am. Somewhere along the way, grace taught me better. Here’s my present working definition of confession: agreeing with God about what is true. I confess that Jesus is Lord. True. I confess that I am a sinner. True. It is an agreement made at the core of the core of who I am.

See the third stanza in today’s reading. Confession is not admission. Confession is not self-shaming. Confession is simple honesty about what is true about us. “Lord Jesus, I confess that I was unkind to my wife this morning. That was sin.” Confession is simple honesty before God that will lead to a life of integrity before others.

Song 32 teaches us that unconfessed sin is like a cancer of the soul. It eats us alive. These forty days provide an open door to walk through as concerns our honesty before God. Here’s a way in. Begin with a form of the most ancient prayer of all, Kyrie eleison: “Lord, have mercy.” Consider engaging a form of the prayer known as The Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

We will revisit this, but for now, just take it on like a mantra. Say it all the time, just under your breath. The specificity of confession will come. Consider this as though it were a round of chemotherapy. Drip. Drip. Drip.

And don’t forget. It’s time to sing again.

Ask Yourself. Share with Another.

Do you have trouble owning The Jesus Prayer? Why might that be the case?

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt


Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.