"…but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."—Philippians 3:13-14
Have you ever entertained any of these thoughts: "Why didn't I….? I never should have…! If only he had… I'll never be able to forgive…"
These thoughts are thoughts of regret, shame and guilt, resulting from past disappointments which most of us have experienced. Although we all have been disappointed, we're not meant to carry these disappointments into the future. Hanging onto the past is a major stronghold for many Believers. Dwelling on past mistakes, failures, losses or betrayals year after year brings an increasing weight of sin, shame and guilt—which will inevitably lead to bitterness, weariness, self-pity, accusation, doubt, unbelief and the fear that the future will just be a repeat of the past. Once disappointed, always disappointed, you reason. If they disappointed me once, they will disappoint me again.
By dwelling on past disappointments, you lose confidence in relationships with others, with God and with yourself. One of the main keys to overcoming disappointments in life is learning to let go of the past. This letting go is difficult for many because we're required not only to let go, but, in its place, to take hold of something new: we must learn to love again and to trust again—and sometimes the heart is still too wounded and hardened to open to love.
So what can we do? First, we must recognize and admit to ourselves and to the Lord that we are disappointed and that our heart has hardened to love. This may be difficult to confess, as part of the pain of disappointment is fearing that disappointment will happen again and again. We fear being disappointed if we dare to trust again and maybe even fearing to trust God again.
But we can take courage by understanding that the Lord's very purpose in coming, as He Himself declared early on, was to "bind up the brokenhearted" (Isaiah 61:1), to heal our disappointed hearts and restore hope to our innermost being. He understands deeply that we are brokenhearted by sin and failures and He has compassion for our souls.
This Hebrew word translated brokenhearted is shabar, an extremely vivid and powerful adjective that means maimed, crippled, wrecked, crushed, quenched, violently ruptured. Is this the condition of your disappointed heart?
Do you feel like you've been crushed because of betrayal?
Do you feel ruptured beyond repair because of lost dreams or lost loves?
Do you feel your hopes and prayers have been wrecked?
Do you feel crippled from an impossibly difficult journey?
Do you feel the Lord Himself has disappointed you by prayers that have gone unanswered or dreams that are still painfully unfulfilled?
Have you disappointed yourself by some egregious sin of the past?
You have no options but this: you must let go of the past. How, you ask? By choosing to forgive those who have hurt you, betrayed you, left you or wronged you. And choose to forgive yourself for your reactions to these injustices or for your own betrayals. You let go of the past by believing that God will restore to you anything and everything that was taken, including love, relationships, time, money, dreams, hopes, talents.
This truth, for many, is difficult to grasp: can the Lord truly restore lost time? Lost opportunities? Lost love? Yes He can and not only can He, but He greatly desires to restore to you everything you have lost—redeeming, restoring and multiplying it back to you.
Meditate on this marvelous promise from our Lord: "So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you" (Joel 2:25).
At the very moment you gave your heart to Jesus Christ, you became a new creation: "...old things passed away and everything became new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). When you receive Christ's forgiveness in your own life, you are released from the pressure to make up for past mistakes or failures. Christ has put your sins as far from you as the east is from the west, never to remember them again. Guilt and shame are gone and you can live in freedom. How is this possible?
Consider the Cross! He bore your sins as the Passover Lamb. Do not take His death in vain by attempting to remedy your own sins and failures by holding on to them in remorse—or holding others' sins and failures against them in accusation. None of us are righteous: the Blood of the Lamb is the only remedy for sin. The only remedy for past disappointments is to repent and turn to Christ, thanking Him for making all things new.
"Then He who sat on the throne said, 'Behold, I make all things new.' And He said to me, 'Write, for these words are true and faithful.'" Revelation 21:5Christ is the same "yesterday, today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). That means He made all things new yesterday, He makes all things new today, and He will make all things new tomorrow. There is nothing at any time in your life which He cannot make new! Cast all your cares upon Him, receive His yoke, and you will find rest for your life.
Begin to experience the bright future God has in store for you. Don't let the regrets of yesterday destroy your hopes for tomorrow. Many Believers lead lives of "quiet desperation" as Thoreau described, hardly aware that they have ceased to dream big dreams and pray big prayers, believing God for the impossible.
Be vigilant to cast off any trace of the fear of future disappointments and trust the Lord's kindness toward you, receiving His grace to forget the past. He is an extraordinarily generous, caring and tender Father who knows what is best for His children. Abandon yourself to His care, for His name is "Faithful and True" (Revelation 19:11).
"And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You." Psalm 9:10
No matter what has happened in the past, know that our God is a God of restoration—and He will restore what the enemy has stolen from you as He promises in the Book of Joel. Accept God's mercy and forgiveness today, as His mercies are new every morning and His faithfulness is not just adequate—it is great (Lamentations 3:23)! Great is His faithfulness! Look forward to the exceedingly wonderful plan He has for your future.
Pray this with me: Precious Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of forgiveness, the gift that releases me from the pains of the past and enables me to run towards You and the bright future You have in store for me! Please show me if there are any areas of unforgiveness or hardness in my heart, so that I may forgive, receive Your infinite love and walk in victory. I ask You to impart to me the dreams and vision You have for my life, restoring all the enemy has stolen. I ask for the grace to forget past disappointments. I believe You are granting this to me now even as I pray! Amen!
"Now glory be to God! By His mighty power at work within us, He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope." Ephesians 3:20
Eagle View Ministries