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ARTICLE: How to Overcome the Pain of Regret


Many of us can look back on our lives and regret the damage done through bad choices. For most, we didn’t see it coming.
For
example, the enemy doesn’t show a couple the pain and anguish and the
years of regret that adultery brings; he deceives them with the
temporary enjoyment of sex and a false sense of freedom from
responsibility. If the full story was known beforehand, no doubt
different choices might have been made.
We often overlook the pain of sin because we’re enticed by the temporary pleasure of it.
In
life, we experience either the pain of discipline or the pain of
regret. There are countless examples: a young parent loses visitation
rights because of an addiction to pain pills, or a family is destroyed
because of drug or alcohol abuse — situations vary but the outcome
doesn’t. Sin promises pleasure and escape but only brings regret and
imprisonment. 
The enemy doesn’t show a person the pain and anguish and
the years of regret that addiction brings, he deceives them with
temporary enjoyment. We’re led down one step at a time, one compromise
at a time, one wrong choice at a time.
Regret often
leads us back into addiction and the vicious cycle continues. Our
private sin will eventually become public disgrace. But there is
tremendous hope if we turn to God and encounter the pain of discipline
over the pain of regret.
The pain of discipline produces joy — the pain of regret produces anguish.
The pain of discipline produces peace —the pain of regret produces fear.
The pain of discipline produces assurance — the pain of regret produces confusion.
Psalm
107:10 opens with a true portrayal of sin’s bondage, “Those who sat in
darkness and in the shadow of death, bound in affliction and irons.”
Have you ever been there? Those held captive by sin can no doubt relate — darkness and depression overshadow everything.
The
wisdom in Psalm 107 continues to expose the root of bondage, “Because
they rebelled against the words of God, and despised the counsel of the
Most High, therefore He brought down their heart with labor; they fell
down, and there was none to help” (vs. 11-12).
The
imagery denotes a person stumbling through life or locked in a prison
where no one can help. The heart is heavy and burdened as the result of
despising God and rejecting His truth.
God often allows
trials so we turn to Him. The only one who can truly help is the One who
created us. But we must cry “out to the Lord” in our trouble and He
will save us out of our distress (vs. 13). That promise will not fail.
He will bring us “out of darkness and the shadow of death” … He will
break our chains in pieces (vs. 14).
What a wonderful
God we serve. He warns us about wandering from Him, but when we do
wander and experience the anguish of regret, He invites us back. But the
invitation is conditional — we must come with a broken and contrite
heart.
We must cry out to Him in full surrender, “Oh,
that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His
wonderful works to the children of men! For He has broken the gates of
bronze, and cut the bars of iron in two” (vs. 15-16).
Bronze and iron are very
strong materials. God can break any addiction, any bondage, and any sin
if we turn everything over to Him. Your first and most profound choice
is to say “no,” and let God handle the rest. There may be withdrawals,
consequences, and pain as we heal, but again, it’s better to experience
the pain of discipline rather than the pain of regret. Jesus speaks out
against those who continually return and enjoy wallowing in sin, but His
love and mercy reaches out to those who regret and hate their
condition. Do you enjoy sin, or cry out for help? That’s the difference
maker.
Be encouraged, regret can redirect a person back to God’s will.
Psalm 51:17 NIV says, “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”
Regret,
when used as a stepping stone rather than a stumbling block, can
rebuild marriages, families, and lives. Don’t let it continue to drive
you down; let it build you up.
Regret can also lead to
salvation: 2 Corinthians 7:10 NIV says, “Godly sorrow brings repentance
that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings
death.”
You may be in your fifth recovery home, on your
third marriage, or living in the twilight years with a past full of
regret, but God can rebuild and restore. He can bring peace in the midst
of pain and joy in the midst of regret if we call on Him. Regret, pain,
depression, fear, and anxiety are often the result of wandering from
God, much like a ship that has drifted off course. But as soon as the
correct course is set, hope, peace, and joy return. He will bring “them
out of darkness and the shadow of death” … He will break their chains
in pieces (vs. 14).
Don’t let discouragement and failure
define you or stand in your way. I could write an entire book on my
failures, but instead I try to follow the Apostle Paul’s advice, and I
encourage you to do the same: “Forgetting those things which are behind
and reaching forward to those things which are ahead” (Philippians
3:13).
Forget your past mistakes, but remember the
lessons learned because of them. We overcome the pain of regret by
allowing God to rebuild our life.

Watch the sermon here.

Shane Idleman is the founder and lead
pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, just
North of Los Angeles. He just released his 7th book, Desperate for More
of God. Shane’s sermons, articles, books, and radio program can all be
found at www.wcfav.org.. Follow him on Facebook.
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