It was a shock for me to read the latest news about Joseph Schooling having consumed cannabis while preparing for the SEA Games earlier this year.

Many Singaporeans had been awestruck when the 21-year-old swimmer brought home Singapore’s first Olympic gold medal in 2016. He had truly done Singapore proud.

Schooling has confessed that he had acted wrongly in a moment of weakness, as he was going through a difficult period in his life. While he didn’t elaborate, he was probably still coping with the death of his father, Colin Schooling, as well as the pressure to make a return to the Olympic arena.

Schooling will now have to face the consequences of his actions. He will no longer be allowed to disrupt his National Service to train or compete, and may face more sanctions.

No doubt, fans and observers will be talking about how Schooling has gone from his greatest moment to his weakest and lowest. Some may be wondering why he made this mistake.

But I ask myself: Hasn’t such a thing happened to me, too? If we are to be honest with ourselves, many of us would probably be able to identify moments in our lives when we have done regrettable things.

One example from Scripture would be king David, who committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of one of his soldiers (2 Samuel 11–12). When he found out that Bathsheba was pregnant, not only did David scheme to cover up his sin by trying to lure her husband Uriah back from frontline duties to spend a night with his wife, but, when his plan failed, he even plotted Uriah’s death.

It was only when God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David with his sinful act, was the king stricken by the realisation of how he had failed God.

Psalm 51 captures David’s guilt as he confesses his sin. He knows that he would have to carry with him the knowledge of his sin (“My sin is always before me”, v. 3), and that he deserves to be punished by God (v. 4). At the same time, he humbly asks God for forgiveness:

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
(Psalm 51:1–2)

Then, he begs God to restore him, purify him, and help him to be faithful, so that he can once again experience God’s presence and joy:

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow . . .
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
(vv. 7, 10)

It can be humiliating to have our wrongdoings exposed. But we need to confront our sins, for they hinder us in our walk with God. If we repent, God is always ready to forgive, wash away all our iniquity and cleanse us from our sin (Psalm 51:2). He will bring us back into His loving fold.

Like Joseph Schooling, we may succumb to temptations in a moment of weakness. But we have a God who cares enough to expose our sins, that we may repent, seek His forgiveness, and be restored.

Lord, please help me to confront my sins honestly, and forgive me for sinning in my moments of weakness. Thank You for being always forgiving and merciful, and for restoring me by Your grace.

Christopher Tan has been a full-time ministry worker for more than 30 years. He spent 16 years as a youth worker in Singapore Youth for Christ before joining Our Daily Bread Ministries, where he is currently serving. A father of three sons and grandfather of four, he never ceases to be amazed and humbled by the power of God’s Word to change lives. He enjoys writing, which he is trying to do more of, and raiding his fridge, which he is trying to do less of.

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