Hard Times and Regrets
It started with a phone call. I sat down on my bed, prepared for a typical midday chat with my husband. I couldn't have been more wrong.
New management had taken over. His position was being eliminated. He had a few loose ends to wrap up in the next few days, then his job would be over.
I experienced a myriad of emotions in those next few seconds— anger, sadness, a white-hot flame of terror—but the emotion I remember most is regret.
Our actions have consequences, but no amount of earthly trials or sufferings can even the score and atone for our sin.
Besides regretting every careless dime I had spent, I also regretted my attitude over previous months—all the times I had resented my tasks as a stay-at-home mom, all the times I had envied friends with more money and nicer houses, all the times I hadn't appreciated my blessings. Now that our lifestyle was threatened and my going back to work was likely, I couldn't imagine a sweeter way to spend my days.
Regrets and Repentance
We all have regrets. Some of us have committed horrible mistakes. Bad choices and sins have sent ripples of consequences throughout our lives and the lives of others. Some regrets are less serious but still real. We regret time and money we have wasted or attitudes that have affected our families and loved ones.
We receive forgiveness only because of what Christ has done.
Regret can serve as a mighty tool for repentance. We can take our regrets straight to the cross and bask in the grace and mercy secured for us by Christ's death and resurrection.
Other times, though, we cling to our regrets in a twisted attempt to secure something for ourselves that only Christ can give.
Regret often occurs when we come face-to-face with our sins. While God can use natural consequences to discipline us, we often confuse discipline with penance. We don't see our circumstances as loving correction from a good God but punishment for what we've done wrong. We lie in the bed we have made for ourselves, determined to suffer quietly. What we don't do, though, is repent or change. We would rather take our lumps until the crisis passes, then continue as we did before.
Other times, we may initially repent but still keep our regrets tucked conveniently in our pockets, ready to pull them out and obsess over them again and again. We think that if God sees how sorry we are, He'll take pity on us and minimize the fallout.
Both these actions take the focus from Christ and His work and turn it back to ourselves. The Bible that teaches that our actions have consequences, but no amount of earthly trials or sufferings can even the score and atone for our sin.
We receive forgiveness only because of what Christ has done. Hoping to receive extra mercy by repenting more fervently is not putting your trust in God, but instead trying to manipulate Him.
Sometimes God allows natural consequences to teach us. Sometimes He mercifully protects us. In whatever situation we find ourselves, it comes from the hand of a good and sovereign God who always knows what we need. We can't force His hand or add to His mercy in any way.
That phone call from my husband occurred over nine years ago. We still had some hard times ahead, but God provided. I wouldn't want to repeat those months, but we wouldn't trade the lessons we learned through that time for anything.
How about you? Do you tend to cling to your regrets rather than laying them before the cross?