Oftentimes, we utter the words, “I’m struggling to forgive God for allowing this tragedy to happen to me,” when in fact we cannot forgive God because He has not sinned against us. However, we can let go of regret, the thought we could have changed the past, which tends to be the core issue.
In order to let go of regret vertically with God, we must repent, which means to change our mind — this is a 180 degree turn from the thought we could change the past to we could change the past thought. Rather than holding on to the thought that we could change the past — the offense, the offender, or our past behavior — we learn to change our thoughts about the past. We trust in God for the freedom of forgiveness.
Repentance is a turning that includes two components, one representing what we turn from, the other what we turn to: we let go of the past, and we hold on to the present (which leads to the future).Whereas, intellectual sorrow leads to imprisonment, repentance comes from godly sorrow that leads to salvation’s freedom and leaves no regret (2 Corinthians 7:10). Paul said that he let go of the past in order to hold on to the present that led to his vertical future (Philippians 3:13-14).
In order to let go of the past, we must recognize that God does not change the past, and yet, His most frequent Old Testament command is “Fear not.” We must humble our mind by letting go of fear and protection language: “I could’ve, I would’ve, or I should’ve.”
God removes our fear and protection perspective when we pray, asking Him to search us and reveal any regret — any anxious thoughts that we could change the past, thoughts of fear and protection (Psalm 139:23-24). Then, we let go. When imprisoned by anxious thoughts, prayer aligns our mind with Christ’s (Philippians 4:6-7).
Next, we hold on to the present (which leads to the future), by learning wisdom and receiving forgiveness discovered in the presence of God. Wisdom changes our language from words that hold on to regret to words that hold on to learning: “We can, we will, and we shall. We can learn, we will learn, and we shall learn to repent and be free from the imprisonment of regret.”
The best way to garner wisdom is to read the Bible, storing its wisdom in our mind (Hebrews 4:12), so that we might trust God (Proverbs 22:17-19). Only when we trust God can we love Him with all our mind (Matthew 22:37), focusing on things above (Colossians 3:2) and receiving the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). Jesus taught: “Learn from me” (Matthew 11:29).
A biblical example of letting go of regret is King David who wrote Psalm 139. David would not let the sin against him by his enemies, including King Saul, imprison him with the thought that he could change the past. Instead, he let go of the past and held on to the present that led to his future: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
Print on a note card David’s prayer recorded in Psalm 139:23-24. Memorize it and make it your daily prayer for the next thirty days. On the reverse side of the same card, print: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). After praying David’s prayer, read aloud the words penned by Paul, and experience the freedom from imprisonment.