What takes you into times of sadness or even depression? Recently I found myself in this place and for days I wrestled feelings of depression and sadness. I prayed. I sang songs. I spent time with God. I went on a prayer walk. Still, I was in a funk.
Finally, I realized the root cause of my sadness. I found myself thinking about areas where I had failed. "If I had only done this, maybe this would not have happened." I was second-guessing myself. I was looking at all the things that I thought I should, or could have happened from my circumstance that didn't. Another word for that is "regrets." Do you have any regrets in your life?
Sometimes we can do something about our pasts. We can make restitution where we were wrong. But there are other situations that no matter how hard we try, there is a negative outcome and it cannot be reconciled. In those cases we have to let go. We have to commit those things to God and say, "Lord, I have done all I know You have asked me to do, and things still did not turn our right."
Obedience does not equate necessarily to good outcomes. Obedience got Jesus the cross. Many martyrs for Jesus have obeyed and died for their obedience. We see this going on in the Middle East right now. Every week we are seeing Christians being killed because they proclaim faith in Christ.
We need to understand that we are in a war zone every day. Satan wants to steal, kill and destroy from our lives it says in John 10:10. More importantly, Satan wants to define us by our past—especially past failures. He does not want you to believe God is a God of new beginnings. God always looks at us in terms of our future. When God came to Gideon, He addressed him, "Oh, mighty warrior." He was far from that at the time.
There are circumstances in our lives that happen that remind us of our past. This can bring discouragement and make us think we haven't made any progress. Satan often reminds us of who we once were. But God sees us for who we are becoming. Listen to what the Apostle Paul says, "Not that I have already attained or have already been perfected, but I follow after it so that I may lay hold of that for which I was seized by Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:12).
We are never going to get to a place where we have "arrived." We will always be human, and this means we will never be perfect. But we don't have to be completely healed in order to step into the future. Recently a staff member said a teacher used to say to her, "Fake it till you make it!" What was he saying? He was saying, "Faith says we call things that are not as though they are!" (paraphrase of Rom. 4:17). Scripture says, "for as he thinks in his heart, so is he." Stinkin' thinkin' can lead to stinkin' behavior if we allow our minds to meditate on the past.
Satan wants us to believe we are powerless over our circumstances, that we are the victim of an unjust God who left us here to suffer. But God wants to transform our past into a new beginning.
The enemy only has power over us when we make agreements with his lies. When we let others define us instead of God, this becomes an idol in our lives. We cannot let others who see us in a negative light define who we are going to become. Only God has the right to do that.
Wounds can come through words, but the truth makes us free. "And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).
We must believe and receive the covenant promises. "For I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord, plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jer. 29:11).
"My soul waits in silence on God alone; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my refuge; I will not be greatly shaken" (Ps. 62:1-2).
For some of us, we need repentance. First we need to repent of anything that we might have actually done that has contributed to our regrets. Once that is done, forgive yourself. Allow God to love you unconditionally and receive His forgiveness. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
So, let me encourage you to see yourself as God sees you. He sees you as His son or daughter in whom He delights.
The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing" (Zeph. 3:17).
Os Hillman is the author of TGIF Today God Is First, todayhgodisfirst.com and president of Marketplace Leaders.org
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