My friend tells people, “Don’t get stuck in your story,” when someone is constantly living in the past. You’re stuck in your story when you allow your past pain to rob you of your present. Yes, it happened. Yes, it was and is painful, but if you allow it to consume you, it will rob you of a life that God wants to give you. I spent a lot of time living in the pain of the past instead of in the present. I couldn’t seem to get unstuck. The pain was becoming my identity, so I grew to need it. What I didn’t realize was that it had caused me to quit paying attention to my present and stopped all my progress. I didn’t get unstuck until a friend looked me in the eye and said, “You’ve given up and you’re in a rut. This isn’t who you are, and I don’t want to see you like this.” All of a sudden I saw that I was stuck and I decided to make changes to get unstuck.
In Isaiah 43:18-19, God says, “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present” (MSG). If we keep living in past pains, we will miss what God is trying to do now. I can tell you that the pain of your past can be used for good once you allow yourself to heal. I don’t know why we have to go through painful times that feel like they’re going to crush us. I do know that it’s part of God’s process in getting us to His promise. Just like a grape that’s crushed can never become wine unless it’s moved from the press to the vat, you and I can never fulfill our purpose until we move from the pain to the next part of the process.
Everyone has a past. Everyone. But everyone also has a present. Everyone. If you’re stuck in your story, you can’t move on to the next part of the process that God is trying to do in your life. Acknowledge your pain. It’s real. It happened, but if you live there going over it over and over, you will never heal. Change your routine. Change your habits. Stop dwelling on what happened. You can’t change that. You can change your future though if you will be present in this moment and ask God to help you move to the next part of the process. Everything that’s happened in your life can be used for your good. God wants to do a new thing in your life, but you have to get unstuck and be present for Him to do it. He will make rivers in your desert and bring new life to the dry places of your life.
Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
Several years ago, I went through some very dark times in my life that I wasn’t sure I’d make it through. They left some very deep scars that I thought would never heal. Instead of going through a true healing process, I decided that it was best to treat that portion of my life as if it were a dream. I covered the wounds and vowed to never speak of them again. I thought that if I pretended it never happened, then I wouldn’t feel the pain of it. That seemed to work for a while until Dave Roever spoke at our church one Sunday.
Dave is a Vietnam veteran who had a phosphorus grenade blow up in his hand near his head as he was throwing it. He survived the explosion, but as a result of the explosion, he has a very disfigured face and hand. He told his story of his recovery and how God has used that terrible event to help him reach so many vets for Christ. Then he wrapped up his sermon by saying, “Don’t hide your scars. For in them, others will find their healing.”
I knew at that point it was time to unwrap my wounds to let them heal. I had to dig down inside, bring up all that hurt again to deal with it properly so God could use my story to help others find their healing. That’s how this site began actually. It was a way for me to process the hurt, but also a way for others to find their healing too. II Corinthians 1:4 says, “He (God) comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us” (MSG).
I don’t know the pain you’ve been through or are going through, but I do know that God has never left your side. He wants to help you heal your wounds so that He can bring others along side you who are going through something similar. He wants to use your scars to bring healing to others if you’re willing to let Him. Their situation may not be identical to yours, but the pain is the same and so is the healing process. Don’t hide your scars. Let God use them to help someone else who desperately needs your story.
Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
I have a friend who recently asked me, “How do you let go?” He’s had a very rough couple of years. It started with one event and it has snow-balled to the point that it has affected every area of his life. He no longer has an optimistic outlook on life. He’s waiting for the bottom to fall out again. You see, every time he thinks he’s hit rock bottom, something else happens and the bottom falls out. This one event has changed not just his life, but who he is. He struggles with bitterness and he’s holding on to resentment. He doesn’t need or want a shallow answer to his question.
I could only share what worked in my life when I had held on to that kind of pain. My catalytic event was different than his, but I recognized the pain and hopelessness in him. I know all too well the mental battle he is facing. It took years for me to let go even after I finally did hit rock bottom. Everything I did for the next few years was done out of a heart that was still holding on to the pain and trying prove that they had made a mistake. I wasn’t living for something. I was living against someone. There is no peace when you live like that.
It wasn’t until I was reminded of what Jesus said in Matthew 6:15. He said, “If you refuse to forgive others, your Father (God) will not forgive your sins.” I couldn’t find peace in my life because I was holding on to bitterness and I wouldn’t forgive. I had to make the mental choice to forgive and to let it go. I had to go through a mindset change because for years I had let that control my thoughts and actions. When I finally let go, the Prince of Peace came in brought balance back to my life. Thoughts of anger and bitterness no longer controlled me. It was still a fight to keep them out though, so I had to be on constant guard against them.
When I did let go of the things that were holding me captive, I found that my hands were free to receive from God. I also noticed that my motives changed and my outlook did too. I was no longer bound to the mindset that bad things were just going to keep happening and I needed to put my head down and deal with if. I now had a source of peace in my life. When bad things happen now, I hold on to the Prince of Peace instead of the pain and bitterness that the situations could cause.
We each have that choice. We can let events define us and change us, or we can cling to the one who created us. I saw a quote the other day that said, “You won’t know the strength of the anchor until you feel the force of the storm.” Too many times we don’t trust the anchor so we let go of it when the storms come. Bitterness then becomes a sail on the mast of pain. The winds of life blow us around until we crash on the rocks. We have to consciously pull down that sail and cut down that mast because ultimately it’s our choice of what we hold on to. I have decided to put my trust in the anchor, the Prince of Peace, and hold onto it instead of my past.
I want go focus on mothers in the Bible this week. Today, Hannah comes to mind. She was the mother of Samuel. Her husband had another wife named Peninnah. She had blessed her husband with children, but Hannah had not. She struggled with infertility. I’m sure it bothered her all the time, but each year when they would travel to Shiloh to worship God, it would become a major issue. Her husband would give a portion of the sacrifice to Peninnah and to each of her children. To Hannah, he only gave one portion. Peninnah would taunt her and make fun of her for not having children.
I’m sure that Hannah struggled daily with not being able to have children. The voice in her head constantly tormented her making her feel like she was somehow less of a person because she couldn’t have kids. She must have felt like God was punishing her or that there was something wrong with her. Every time she saw a mother with their children, it was like a knife in a wound reminding her that she was barren. Having the other wife taunt her and make fun of her was just salt in the wound.
Her husband would say things like, “Aren’t I worth more to you than ten sons?” Men really don’t understand what a woman goes through. We aren’t wired the way a woman is. Instead of doing something consoling, we say something stupid. It wasn’t that she didn’t love her husband, she wanted fulfillment that only a child could bring. Her husband’ swords weren’t meant to hurt, but spoken out of ignorance, they did more harm than good. She would have preferred he prayed for her there while we sacrificed.
Since he didn’t, she did. She went into the sanctuary to pray. She began to weep as years of pain, suffering and mental anguish released. When she ran out of tears, her body dry heaved as she tried to pray. The words wouldn’t come out. Her mouth was moving, but the prayer was coming from her heart. Eli, the priest, saw her at the alter. He assumed she was drunk by her behavior. He called out to her, “Must you come here drunk?” Sobbing she replied, “I haven’t been drinking. But I am very discouraged and I was pouring my heart out to The Lord.” He said, “In that case, go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.”
She went away happy and began to eat again. She believed the word from Eli. She conceived and gave birth to a son. When he was old enough to be weaned, she took him back to Eli and gave him to The Lord. She left him there as an offering for God answering her prayer. She gave back the thing she wanted most. When I looked up the name Hannah, it meant “grace”. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines grace as “an unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration.” God gave Hannah grace just like he gives it to us. When Samuel was born, Hannah became a new person. She was free of the thing that haunted her. God is still in the business of answering our deepest desires and granting us grace when no one else understands.