We have all been down this road before: Everything is going good; it’s smooth sailing, and then out of nowhere, our past rises before us and shifts the focus from our current journey. Whether we are confronted with the sins we have committed, the injustices we have been put through, or the dreams that have been shattered, we find ourselves overwhelmed. We lose heart. We lose focus. We lose control.
When this happens, some of us fight back with anger. We keep our pain in check by shielding it with a thick cloak of fury. Our conversations become heated, and our actions become more self-involved. But anger is not the only response. Sometimes we concede to the debilitating sadness. We do only what must be done for survival. We find ourselves hiding from life, sleeping through the pain and avoiding many of the people we love.
The past is better left behind us. We cannot live in the presence of God’s will, if we allow ourselves to be enslaved and victimized by our pasts.
When the pain of my past resurrects, I surrender my hurts to the Great Physician. “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7a). I know that in His time, He will heal my broken heart. Like the Psalmist says in Psalm 23:3, “He restoreth my soul.”
Next, I remind myself that I am not who I once was; I am redeemed. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). His forgiveness is full. He won’t torment me with my past, He has washed them away like they were never there at all.
Finally, I try to focus on God’s blessings in my life. I look at the present, especially the things so often taken for granted: health, children, a roof over our heads. That’s so much more than what some people have in this life. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (James 1:17). With God’s present favor foremost in my head, my past often shrinks back to where it belongs. I remember that I am a beloved child of the King!
Only by his mercy do I find myself escaping the pain of the past and reclaiming the freedom of His Presence. What’s your response to your past? How can you get past it to see your presence?