This series comes from sermons and a book by Bishop T.D. Jakes – senior Pastor of “The Potter’s House” church in Dallas, Texas. Bishop Jakes’ main theme is unforgiveness. He says “don’t let your history hold you back from your destiny” and there are many things that might hold us back if we refuse to let them go.
In our series we look at four of them:
1) Past difficulties
We hope you enjoy the series!
We Are Where We Are
Today we’re looking at difficult things that have happened to us in the PAST - and how we can deal with them NOW to have a better FUTURE.
I have a favourite phrase for this which is kind of a statement of the obvious. Ready? Here goes – “We are where we are” Good eh?
What it means is there’s no good bemoaning the past – no good gnawing on the old bones, the things we can’t change. Much better to say OK – ouch! - but what am I going to do now? How will I view those difficulties, those pivotal things that have happened? Will they continue to damage me, or might there be a better way forward? Will they shatter my faith, or will my faith sustain me and grow even deeper?
We can let all kinds of personal difficulties drag us down and enchain us: our own past mistakes, misfortunes, heredity, upbringing, heartbreak, abuse, bereavement, accidents etc. One loss not dealt with can resonate again later.
God can use painful experiences to bring about a greater good. Sometimes there really are blessings in disguise – but it might be a very good disguise!
To be fair, sometimes our own sins cause us to suffer – sin displeases God but nothing supernatural is required to explain that sometimes we face the painful consequences of our wrong actions.
We shouldn’t blame God if the very sins he wants us to turn away from cause us problems. If we do the wrong things and feed our body, mind and spirit with harmful, bad things, there are consequences! If we abuse ourselves by filling up on bad things we shouldn’t be surprised or angry at anyone else – including God - when we suffer the pains of those bad choices.
Sometimes we try to anaesthetise that pain (or indeed pain that’s not our fault) – with our drug of choice (alcohol, drugs, porn, experiences - even the experience of church!). But Jesus didn’t come to anaesthetize pain – he came to give us life and life to the full!
Jesus warns us that in this life we’d face hardships. Jesus’s close friend John records Jesus as saying to his followers: “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John chapter 16, verse 33)
In our last series “Family Matters” we looked at a letter we can find in the New Testament part of the bible. It’s called “Romans” because it was written to the early church in Rome by a guy called Paul. In it, Paul says that those who are led by God’s Holy Spirit are (quote) “children of God”.
He talks about the Spirit being in conflict with our sinful natures and how those led by the Spirit are children of God with an eternal destiny that will far outweigh any earthly trials we might suffer. We can read this here:
In our times of struggle and trial, we can turn away from God, or turn all the more to God. We can walk away from him, or we can bank on him and his promise of eternity with him, where there will be no more pain or suffering.
As we look back on those troubles of the past, we can be honest and say some were our own fault, and we can ask the Spirit to lead us from repeating the mistakes of the past.
And where things happened that were out of our control, we can still look back in the light of this truth –
We have God on our side! God who loves us and who can work in all things for the good of those who love him! And that’s a great reason to let go of the pains of the past.
You know, I can maybe offer you some practical philosophy – some life coaching – and I really hope it will help you. But God can offer incalculably more! Even leaving aside HEALING of current ills, He offers a triple whammy of help with our past difficulties:
1. He leads us from our sins and therefore away from the painful earthly consequences of those sins.
2. Jesus atones for our sins and therefore takes away the eternal consequences of those sins.
3. He promises his followers a place in heaven, free of suffering – and we can live a life on Earth made hopeful, joyful and loving in the light of that eternal promise!
We have to understand the choice is ours as to how we view the past, how often we revisit it, and whether we do so in a way that will help or hinder our future. Come what may in this life, God has a wonderful destiny for us in the next.
So - don’t let your history hold you back from your destiny. Let it go!