Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:4
Repentance begins with a sense of God’s mercy. The natural inclination of your sinful heart will always be to run and hide from God, but when you are persuaded of God’s mercy, you will gather the courage to repent.
That’s why faith comes logically and psychologically before repentance. The two are born in the heart together, but repentance flows from faith—not the other way round. Faith tastes the mercy of God, and that makes repentance possible. When you see that God is totally for you in Jesus Christ, then you will gather the courage to repent.
The prodigal son eats with the pigs. He is absolutely miserable. But then he comes to his senses and remembers, “I have a father who will receive me.” That’s what gives a person courage to draw near.
Maybe you have drifted far from God. But right now, God is speaking to you. He is drawing near, not to punish you, but to heal you. He has seen your ways, but he wants to show you mercy. He comes to revive your heart.
The Bible commentator Alec Motyer writes, “Without repentance there is no entering into the comforts of salvation, and only God can sovereignly create the ability to repent… There is nothing in the whole of salvation that is not God’s sole, creative work, not even the words of sorrow by which the penitent comes home.”
Ask God to restore and renew your faith in his mercy, so that you may have the courage to repent and return to him.