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The other day while searching for a specific photo among thousands, I came across one I had taken of a business card. The only piece of meaningful information to me was the image. It was that of my daughter. Maybe I should clarify. It was an image of my daughter’s skull and teeth. You see this card is for an imaging centre. All that time and money to straighten those teeth had finally paid off. More in fame than in the pocket. Still, having an image of your perfectly straight teeth published for the world to see, was quite the complement for a high school student.
I studied the image of her teeth and recalled how often my daughter had once been offended by cruel jokes and hurtful remarks about her teeth, from fellow students who would make fun at her expense. Maybe you have been on the receiving end of similar distressing experiences and find it hard to let go of painful memories; or perhaps you have been one of the perpetrators and find yourself haunted by feelings of guilt and remorse.
Sometimes the shameful or embarrassing moments, be it our own doings or things done to us, are too embarrassing or painful to talk about. Even when we feel that we can’t possibly speak of these things to another person, we can be confident that God will listen. In fact, He already knows. You are much more to God than your mistakes or your feelings of anger and resentment! Our God, being a God of relationships, is more concerned about having a loving relationship with you.
In case you have forgotten, or didn’t know, when we bring our problems and confessions to God, we are lovingly embraced and forgiven. So, let go of the hurts or feelings of guilt! Bury them skeleton deep and forget them! To the hurting, Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV). To those burdened with guilt, God says: “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25).
That’s wonderful news when we are feeling broken and torn-up inside for things we have suffered or for sins we have committed! The apostle Paul reminds us that, if God is for us, no one can stand against us! “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all - how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32 NIV).
You may know people who are against you, or who are quick to judge and tell you you’re no good. But that’s their business and their problem to be reckoned with, not yours. When we understand how God sees us, it no longer matters what others think. Seeing how much he loves us, even with our weaknesses and faults, makes us love him even more.
So, just as we must set aside those things from our past that continue to trouble us and cause us pain, so also, we must forgive those who have hurt us. When we refuse forgiveness, we not only hurt ourselves, but we fail to experience a closer relationship with God.
We need to drop this baggage at God’s feet, forgive those who have hurt us, and walk away. “It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones” (Proverbs 3:8). With a refreshed heart, it might even be possible for a healing of that relationship. Either way, this forgiveness is for you, not them.
Did you catch in the verse above where God himself says he forgets our sins for his own sake? He forgets for his sake, not ours. So how do we put painful memories out of our mind and forget them? We must first forgive, just as God forgives us. Next, we must forget those things others have done to hurt or disappointed us. This doesn’t mean those memories will never resurface. It means that when they do, we can choose to overlook them and avoid, once again, dwelling on troubles of the past.
Has God, the all-knowing, truly forgotten our sins? I think probably not, but, because we are now united in Christ (Galatians 3:27; Colossians 3:3), God no longer views us as wrong-doers, or holds our sins against us; having already “raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 2:6 NIV).
Unlike us, God is not a ‘kitchen-sink fighter’, who hurls our past transgressions at us each time we seek forgiveness. So, forgive, forget, and bury the skeletons of the past. God has.
by Angela Mattingly
Texas, USA - firstname.lastname@example.org
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