All scriptures are quoted from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. Explanatory insertions within a scripture are enclosed in brackets
The New Year is a time to reflect about lessons learned from the past and new beginnings for the future. Recently, I saw the movie Unbroken with some friends. I cried at the hardships that Louis Zamperini experienced as he, and two other survivors from a World War II plane crash, drifted for 47 days on a raft in the Pacific Ocean. Even more challenging was the cruelty he endured as a prisoner of war survivor in a Japanese concentration camp. In spite of these hardships, Zamperini was able to forgive his enemies and live an extraordinary life for God.
Resilience. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines resilience as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” All of us have experienced disappointments, hurt, and heartbreak in our lives. Each of us has a story to tell. Will your story be one of courage, compassion, and forgiveness? Or is your story one of anger, bitterness, and resentment? We can’t always control what happens in our lives. What we can control is our response to life’s challenges with God’s Word. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”
Our past does not determine our future. There are many individuals who have never gotten over previous mistakes that were made, hurts that were experienced, or disappointments in life. They appear to be stuck in a time warp where they keep on re-living the past, fail to live in the present, and are unable to plan for the future. Very soon after my divorce from a marriage of 29 years, one wise minister told me that I could hold on to the past as long as I wanted to. I made a decision to move on with my life. The decision to heal and let go of the hurt I experienced was my decision alone. I could wallow in self pity or I could decide to move on with new possibilities. God’s Word, and writing my book Biblical Solutions for Daily Living – Developing a Vital and Personal Relationship with God was the catalyst that I needed to heal from the past. The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3:13-14: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
We can’t always instantaneously forget the past. I am sure the Apostle Paul was challenged to let go of his past and the hurtful and painful actions that he committed when he persecuted the Christian Church. Healing is a process that takes time. However, God is always there to support, strengthen, and sustain us to overcome the negatives of the past and begin anew in our desire to serve God and to love and forgive others.
My son and his girlfriend recently visited me over the holidays. He has matured and overcome many personal challenges and addictions with drugs and alcohol. Our conversations with one another are deeper and richer as he freely shared the lessons he learned from his past and, by God’s grace and mercy, how he turned his life around from the self destructive behavior he experienced as he was growing up.
As a parent of two beautiful children who are now adults, I have found that being a parent is one of the most difficult, painful and yet rewarding experiences in life. Was I a perfect parent? Absolutely not! However, as a parent I did the best job that I knew how as did my parents. However, mistakes were made that I still hear about years after they occurred. When we break fellowship with God, by not living His Word, our children also make mistakes when they decide to follow their own path wherever it may take them. Do I love my children any less for wrong choices that were made in life? No! God still loves us and is always there for us when we break fellowship with Him. Similarly, as parents, we are still there for our children and we love them unconditionally in spite of bad decisions that were made in their past. James 5:16 states, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man [or woman] availeth much.” We consistently pray for our children and loved ones because God hears and honors our prayers.
A Heart of Gratitude
I am thankful to God for all that He has blessed me with. I am thankful that He gave me a Savior, Jesus Christ, who represents the ultimate resilience and sacrifice when he died on the cross and God raised him from the dead. God’s Word gives me the resilience to deal with pressures and challenges in life. I am thankful that He has given me His Word as a guidepost to follow and that He has placed me in the Body of Christ to function as a member in particular. There are many scriptures in the Bible that are designed to build resilience and victory in our lives (See, for example, the scriptures posted on this website entitled, “Believing Images of Victory”).
May God’s blessings continue to abound in your life and may He bless you and your loved ones with health, prosperity, and success in the years ahead!
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