Overcoming past hurts

Most of the unpleasant things that happen to us are like bruises or minor scrapes to our spirits. Like minor injuries to our bodies that only leave a mark or hurt for a short while, those hurtful incidents may temporarily make us "black" with negative thoughts or "blue" with discouragement, but are usually forgotten fairly quickly. At some time or another, however, many of us experience deep wounds to our spirits. How can we be healed of those?

When we suffer a serious physical injury, we consult a physician who can properly tend to it. We have the wound cleansed and dressed, and sometimes have it checked regularly to make sure it's healing properly. Even then it may take some time to heal. This is an illustration of how our inner wounds can heal with faith, prayer, and proper care. But if we don't allow them to be cleansed and to heal in the proper way, if we try to hide our wounds, they can become infected with bitterness and resentment that can poison our whole being.

Bitterness doesn't usually develop into a serious problem immediately; it festers and grows over time, like an infection in a wound, quietly destroying healthy areas it comes in contact with, if it's not purged from the body.

The Bible teaches that we should empty our hearts of things that bother us: "Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many."(Hebrews 12:15 TLB)

Past circumstances do not have to dictate your present outlook, because God has made a way for you to overcome the negative in your life. In fact, He intends for you to! "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."(2 Corinthians 5:17) In other words, the more we get immersed in Jesus and His Word and learn to do things His way, old things will pass away and everything will become new.

It's human nature for people to blame their problems on others or on events from their past. A lot of people go along with this way of thinking, because it is easier than forgiving and putting those incidents in the past and leaving them there. It is easier than accepting that they are wrong in being bitter. However, if they stay stuck in this frame of mind, it will hinder their ability to move forward in life.

Some of our problems may indeed be the result of things that happened in our past. We are all products of our environment to some extent; we have been influenced positively in some respects and negatively in others. No one in this world has had only positive experiences, but the negative ones don't have to control or even permanently influence us emotionally, mentally, or spiritually.

The Christian life is all about overcoming obstacles, rising above our circumstances, and not letting things get us down. It's about letting Jesus resolve and override problems by the renewing and transforming of our mind.[Romans 12:2] God puts the responsibility on each of us for how we react to whatever situations we find ourselves in. He has given us free will and free choice, and He is constantly asking us to make the right decisions and to take the right steps. When we do, He is right there to see us through.

The fact that we have some control over the way we are is obvious when we look at different individuals who experience similar setbacks in life. Some react in one way and some in another, and as a result, turn out to be very different types of people leading very different lives. Despite the adverse circumstances in their past, some are happy, healthy, successful, and well adjusted, while others are just the opposite--depressed, unhappy, discontented, or disturbed.

Sadly, many people blame God for things that have gone wrong. Somehow, they think God is not responsible for all the good in their life; He's only responsible for the bad. Their relationship with Him is completely contrary to how it should be. They don't give Him praise and credit for the good times, but they complain and blame Him in bad times.

According to God's Word, trials are designed to strengthen us.(1 Peter 4:12-13; 5:10) If your life were problem free, you might never build the strength of character that comes from fighting to overcome problems. You also probably wouldn't be able to relate to or have compassion on others who have gone through similar things.(2 Corinthians 1:4) You might miss the beautiful transformation that takes place when you discover that you really need Jesus in your life. You might never experience the thrill of Him coming through for you and equipping you to carry on.

Jesus wants "your joy to be full."(John 15:11) The secret to that joy lies in forgiving those who have wronged you, letting go of bitterness and resentment, and forgetting the past. It is possible for you to overcome!