Ah, unfortunately, in this case, that doesn’t stand for Rest and Relaxation, but two emotionally difficult experiences: Rejection and Regret.
Have you ever been rejected? What do you do with that?
Being a woman divorced against my will, this is something that I worked through as I surrendered to God, and still cycles back periodically. One way to think through rejection is to discredit the person who rejected you. They must be a jerk, and not worth your time and attention anyway. You deserve better, and there are plenty of other people out there who would be happy to know you. This approach never worked for me, because I continued to love the other person. Today (again) I reminded myself that Jesus was rejected, and I take comfort that He walked it first. I have His example, and I can also use my experience to draw closer to His heart, because we now have this in common.
I have to come back to, what does God think of me? In that secret place, where I am alone, what am I to God? Does He value me and find me worthwhile? When I valued that other person’s approval of me more than God’s, wasn’t that person an idol to me? So, I had to work through the grief of rejection, without letting it be Everything to me. We must distinguish between grieving a legitimate loss and grasping for what is not ours to possess. We can feel the difference in our attitudes that follow, whether we are turning toward God or away from Him, whether we are loving God in our sorrow, or casting an angry countenance toward Him.
How do you deal with regrets from your past? Does Romans 8:28 no longer apply if we have failed? Can we have faith in God while sorrowing over our own failure? Is He near or far then?
This was a huge problem for me to work through because I felt intense remorse for my spiritual adultery, that God had not been my first love and that in my friendship with the world, I had made myself God’s enemy. I could see God’s goodness in allowing an idol (marriage) to be removed out of my life, yet my regret was overwhelming. 2 Cor. 7:10 says, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” Perhaps worldly sorrow is being sorry for my consequences, while godly sorrow is being sorry that I grieved God. If I am sorry with godly sorrow, then I repent for my sin. That will lead to my salvation and I will find God there, in whose presence is joy. But if I am sorry with worldly sorrow, mourning my painful situation, it will bring spiritual death to me.
Sometimes we might regret things that weren’t sin, but looking back, wish we’d have done differently. We can cast ourselves on God in those times. In my case, I wasn’t sure how much of my suffering was God’s chastening; or how much was the result of another’s sin; or how much was the work of the enemy. But regardless, or if my pain was just part of living in a broken world, God is a God of redemption. I can trust His purpose. Because God, through His absolute power, works everything together for good. THAT’S redemption.
If I discipline my child and he comes back for a hug, will I ever turn him away? God had disciplined me and I was going to Him for a hug; was He going to say, “Well, I’m sorry, but you created this problem”? He’s never going to say that to one who comes to Him with a broken heart. He says, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” In Luke 7:47, Jesus said, “Wherefore I say unto thee, her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” The more I had done wrong, the greater my capacity to love God, because I’ve been forgiven much. The more remorse I felt, the more I could be overwhelmed with God’s love for me in spite of it all.
My goal began to be, not comfortable circumstances, but to become like Christ. Even when we struggle to surrender, there is something deep within us that really does long to be like Christ, because of the beauty we see in Him. Another thing I learned, when something happened that hurt so much, was not to fight against the circumstance. Pain is not the enemy. In our flesh, we recoil from pain, we fear it and want to protect ourselves from it. But if pain is what makes me more like Christ, I can embrace that, because I want to be like Christ! We can also comfort others who have failed, that there is a way forward, because of God’s mercy and grace.
A life of rest is one free of regret, not because we’ve done everything right, but because we have come to a place of trust in the Father and submission to His will. We will have sorrow, as Jesus did, but not despair. Hebrews 4 tells us to labor to enter God’s rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. Jesus invited all who labor to come to Him for rest. But to do that, we have to take His yoke upon us and learn from Him to be gentle and humble in heart. We must surrender circumstances in our past, even if we had fault in it. Jesus didn’t come for the healthy people, but for the sick. We can come to a place of acceptance with where our path has brought us, and give it over into God’s capable hand when our desire is for God’s glory. God wants us to be free from regret toward things in our past because He is ready and willing to forgive, and He can bring beauty from ashes, and He has accepted us in the Beloved.
Bio: Gwendolyn (Wendy) is the mother of two teenage boys and is a part of Bethel Mennonite Church in Gladys, VA. She writes and records music (www.singthekjv.org), gives private piano lessons, teaches music at her church school and Shenandoah Christian Music Camp, provides companion care for two local widows, and makes pottery (www.kjvpottery.com). Gwendolyn was a teacher and assistant principal in the Virginia public school system for 11 years. After the failure of her marriage in 2003, Gwendolyn began composing songs out of personal pain and brokenness in her life under the pseudonym Tirzah Joy (“Tears of Joy”). She homeschooled her sons for 5 years and served as an adjunct instructor for Liberty University Online for 3 years. Her passion is that all may find the peace that comes from surrendering their lives fully to our loving Lord. It is impossible to trust Him too much!