Failure to let go of the past is often the biggest obstacle to finding joy. Many live with past pain, grief, anger and regret. They drag the past with them and it robs them of joy and any potential happiness for the present and future. Some have habits, addictions and tendencies that they keep repeating instead of learning from them and changing. Facing the past with truth and grace is the only way to learn from it and move on into the future God has planned. It takes repentance, forgiveness and determination to put the past in the past and embrace the joy that is available in the present and future.

Scriptures
Phil 3:12-14; Pr 26:11; Ps 139:23-24; Col 3:13; Rom 8:28

Verse
Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:13-14)

Thought
When something from the past is dragging you down, you can overcome with God’s help. If it is something you did, own it (my bad). Repent and ask God to free you. If there are others whom you have hurt, ask their forgiveness. Forgive yourself! If the past pain you drag was caused by someone else, then you must forgive them. Though you weren’t at fault, only God can free you from the wounds and resentment. Let it go! Until you do, you will not have the joy God desires for you. Sometimes there is no blame to be placed for whatever happened; it was just “bad.” You didn’t get into the college you wanted; your parent died when you were young; your job was outsourced; the economy made a downturn. Going over and over the “if only’s” will destroy you. God has a plan for your life and whatever has happened he will work for your good if you seek his will and purpose for you now… and for your future. (Rom 8:28)

Questions
Is there anything that you or someone else did in the past that continues to cloud your present and diminish your joy? Is there anyone you need to ask for forgiveness? Is there anyone you need to forgive? How has God used past pain for the good of your present and future?

Response
If there is anything from the past that you are still dragging around with you, take action; get rid of it. Seek forgiveness from God and from those you have hurt. Begin to work on forgiving that person who hurt you. Let go of the “if onlys”. God has a plan. Healing is a process; it takes time, but it can’t start until you decide to make a change.

Prayer
Dear Father, forgive me for what I have done in the past. Forgive me for harboring resentment toward others who have hurt me. Let me forgive them in the same way that you forgive me. I know that I can’t forget some of the past pains, but allow me to learn from them and live in the present as a wiser and more joyful Christian. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.