Healing Our Painful Pasts

Focus 40Day 14

I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.  – Jeremiah 31:34 NIV

Do you have a secret? Is there something about you that you hope no one ever discovers? I have
found that all of us have secrets and that failing to address them can be very unhealthy spiritually. As
a young pastor, I would talk about horrible problems like rape, incest, suicide and sexual addiction as
belonging to people out there. We brought the poor lost folks into our fellowship to bring them to
Christ.

How foolish of me! I have learned that whatever the group – an alcoholic recovery group, a
church crowd, a mid-week Bible study populated mostly with white-haired folks – there will be
people present who are struggling with painful secrets. I remember a young mother coming into my
office a number of years ago. She was talented and beautiful, with a wonderful smile, but this day
she was not smiling. This day, through bitter tears, she recounted years of sexual abuse and a broken
life that had resulted from her painful past. No one knew, but the secret was destroying her life.

If you are a Christ follower you probably are aware that God forgives completely when we
ask. “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34). It is not God who
struggles with forgiveness. We struggle to release our painful pasts into his forgiving Spirit. Several
years ago, I started teaching a little visualization prayer. I ask people to imagine their heart to be a
big room. It is a place where you live and work. In the middle of the room is a trap door. Can you
see it? Inside the trap door are the secrets, the hurts, the painful memories in our lives. Maybe they
are so painful you have chosen to not recall them. I then ask people to do two things. If there are
secret, not yet confessed sins in their lives, they need to confess them at that moment to God. Next,
they need to lift the trap door. It is dark down there, but Jesus is light. Invite him to go into the
darkness. Ask him to touch those wounds and hurts that keep you confused and frustrated and
angry. Ask him to remove the guilt and pain and replace them with his amazing peace.

I ask that you pray this prayer every day until his peace overcomes the pain and darkness that
robs you of his joy:

Lord, help me open the trap doors in my life. As the Light of the world, please walk with me into the darkness. Touch
and heal the wounds that keep me confused and frustrated and angry. Then remove the guilt and pain and replace it
with your amazing peace. Amen.

– Rev. Steve Birch, Pastor, White Chapel Church of God, South Daytona, Florida

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