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How To Deal With Past

How To Deal with the Past


            Think back to a time when you were in your most pain. Think about things right now that are being disrupted because of your past experience. Many of you right now are going through many different challenges, trials, and frustrations because the past is still in the present. Many of you can‘t move on in relationships, jobs, or family because there is something in the past that is holding you hostage in the present. Future relationships will suffer in the future if you do not deal with the issues of the past properly. Many of the fights you have with your spouse right now are probably tied to something in the past that you are allowing to affect the present relationship. How do we move from a place where tomorrow is not a slave to yesterday? Where today is free, and we can serve, anticipating tomorrow instead of being afraid of it? How do we move from a place where we are not in bondage to the past? I would like to suggest to you four principles that can help you deal with the past in order to move into the future.

           In order to deal with the past, you must not be consumed with desires from past experiences (Num 11: 1-6). For instance, perhaps you were in a situation where you lacked the security, support, or safety you craved. As a result of not having these perhaps you suffered great harm. Your desire now for these things you treasured in the past shapes your perception, decisions and actions towards people, places, and things in the present.  Consequently, your relationship with others is impacted by these desires—desires you treasure above God and the relationship. These desires can become the center of your life leading you to worship these desires and be fearful of the future and thereby producing harm to your relationships. The Bible tells us that there is no fear in love, but rather, perfect love cast out fear (1Jn 4:17-18). Your preoccupation with protecting yourself and providing for yourself keeps you focused on yourself instead of loving God and loving others. You must place these desires in their proper place. They must not master you (1Cor 6:12). What are some things you treasure now that you must put in its proper place?   Is it revenge, love, acceptance, security, safety, or respect? Whatever it might be, it can no longer control you. You must control it! Think about your spouse? How much of what you treasure now from the past impacts the way you relate with others in the present?  Many of you have been told negative things in the past, and you have made it your life’s ambition to prove those people wrong. As a result present relationships suffer the consequences. Many of you have been rejected and mistreated in the past, and you have made it your life ambition to never again be rejected and mistreated. As a result these things have shaped your perspective of others and the future, as well as your actions and your choices in the present. You must not be consumed with desires from the past. The past is not your problem. Rather, your desires from the past are affecting your actions and your choices in the present.

           Second, in order to deal with the past, you must view God according to His present character instead of your past experience (Gen 50:15-20). Your view of God shapes your decisions concerning every problem you encounter. If you truly embrace the facts that God is in control and He knows the best course of action to bring about His glory and your greatest good, always having your best interest at heart, would you worry? You worry because you do not embrace those realities about God. If you truly embraced those character traits of God, would you be mad, angry, or bitter at God about your past? Is it possible that the right view of God could change your interpretation of the past? You must look at your past through the lenses of God’s grace and rejoice. Have you considered that whatever happened or didn’t happen, that your life could be worse?   God’s grace provided you with things in the past that you did not deserve. God’s grace kept you from things in the past that could have made your life worse that what you may think it is now. Look at the sin you committed then, and consider God’s mercy on you. Look at what God could have allowed as a result of your choices but did not.   You should not ask questions such as why wasn’t God there or why did He allowed certain things to happen. You should ask questions such as what was He trying to accomplish to His glory and your benefit, and how is you using that experience to transform you into the image of Jesus Christ? What other people meant for evil against you, God meant for good for you. You are promised that God will cause all things to work together for your good (Rom 8:28). It may have felt like He was not there, or He couldn’t make something good out of it. But the reality is God can, and He will make something good out of something terrible. God does not waste pain in our lives. Through the pain of your past, God is seeking to develop spiritual maturity in your life in the present resulting in your knowing Him intimately and being useful to Him practically (Rom 5:1-5, Jam 1:1-5, Jn 15:1-11). Your view of God impacts your view of the relationship you are in right now because the way you are handling others is revealing how you are relating with God. You can’t say you love God and yet treat others with contempt or suspicion. You can’t say you love God and be overly preoccupied with protecting yourself from pain, or disappointment. Your history is His story! He is controlling the outcome (Eccl 7:13-14, 3:1-11, 9:1-2). Therefore, to move from the past, you must interpret your past through the character of God instead of through the pain of the experience, so that you can be free to love God and love others.

           Third, in order to deal with the past you must confess and repent of present sinful attitudes, words, and actions toward past experiences (Prv 28:13-14). Look at the sinful belief system you have developed towards God and others as a result of the past and acknowledge it to God while turning away from it and replacing it with the right belief system. Many of you may think that God is powerful, but He does not love you because of what He has allowed to happen in your life. You may tend to believe that no one else will truly love you either. As a result you find yourself bitter and angry with God and others. The fact is that God is powerful and He does love you. He allows things in our lives to lead us to Spiritual Maturity. He will bring people into our lives to love us according to His will and good pleasure. Therefore, you must confess this faulty belief system as sinful while you turn away from it and replace it with the right attitude about God others according to Scripture (Rom 12:2-3). You must identify your present ungodly ways of speaking, which developed from the past experience, and turn away from it (Eph 4:29). If there is sarcasm, criticism or just plain old negativism in relation to your conversations about the past, confess it, and replace it with thanksgiving and praise for God and His plan (1Thes 5:18). You must identify your present ungodly actions, which have developed from the past experience, and turn away from them. Look at the way you act around people as a result of your past experience. Are you unloving or unkind? Confess, repent, and replace those actions with kindness, and politeness. A little boy had his hand in the cookie jar and found his hand stuck. He yelled for his mother to come help him. She put grease and butter and all kinds of oil on his hand to help get his hand out of the jar. She asked her son to tell her how he had his hand positioned in the cookie jar. The little boy told her that his hand was positioned around the cookie. His mother said to him let it go and he’d be able to get his hand out of the cookie jar! Many of you have your hands stuck in the cookie jar of the past. You won’t let go of the cookie of revenge, the cookie of trying to show people that you are not a looser, the cookie of trying to get others to admit they were wrong, the cookie of trying to get others to make restitution for what they have done to you, the cookie of approval or even the cookie of security. As a result, you can’t be free. If you want to be free you have to let go of those cookies of the past. You have let go of the attitudes, words, and actions that keep leading you back to the cookie jar! Freedom comes as we deal with the sin properly instead of rationalizing and justifying ourselves. We must fess up where we messed up, let go, and move on!

          Finally, in order to deal with the past, you must pursue the prize of being with and knowing Jesus Christ (Phil 3:7-14). You must consider the treasure of this life as nothing compared to knowing Christ. What you want from the past cannot compare to what Christ will provide in the future. The pain you have been running from cannot compare to the pleasure you can run to with Christ Jesus in the present. Wanting someone from the past to treat you right can’t compare to God treating you right forever in paradise. Consumed with wishing the way things could have been if the person would not have done what he or she did will not compare to what it will be like in Heaven with Christ Jesus. You must set your mind on things above instead of things below (Col 3:1-4). If you don’t do this, you will find yourself disobedient and unloving in the present towards God and others because of past experiences. You must let go of preoccupation with past accomplishments, rewards, and experiences and pursue the hope of the new life in Christ (Phil 3:13-14). Until you run the race set before you by God and pursue that which is ahead of you instead of that which is behind you, there will be a disconnect between you, God, and others. You must enjoy what God has provided now without being consumed with what you believed you lacked in the past. I saw a movie where this racecar driver took the rear view mirror down, and his partner asked him why. He said “What’s behind me is not important!” You must take the rear view mirror of the past out of your life because It is where you are going not what’s behind you that is important. God has called us to a higher calling,; He is moving us to a higher place; He is taking us somewhere that we have never been before, and He is giving us a peace that surpasses all understanding. Let go of the past, and pursue Him for the future. Rest assured that it will change your outlook, you attitude, and your actions towards God and others.


How to Deal with the Past


What has happened to you?

What was your reaction in thought, words, and deeds to God, people in this situation?

What did you expect that you did not get from God, people, circumstances?  

What did you get that did not expect from God, people, and circumstances?

What was your view of God before the situation occurred?

What was your view of God while the situation was occurring?

What was your view of God after the situation occurred?

What do you want from God, people, and circumstances in the present so that you can get through the past situation?

What feelings about God, people, and circumstances arise when you think about the past situation?

Have you considered what God was doing when He allowed this situation to happen to you?

How was or is He using the situation from the past to make you more like Christ in the present?

What have you learned about your patterns of sin from your past situation?

What have you learned about the patterns of God’s Grace from your past situation?

What have you learned about God’s character from your past situation?

What have you learned about your character from your past situation?

What do you need to change in thoughts, words, actions, expectations in order to grow from the past situation

What do you need to change in thoughts, words, actions, expectations in order to draw near to God?

Who controls your thoughts, words, actions, expectations?

Who is responsible for changing your thoughts, words, actions, and expectations?

Is there ever a right time to sin against God in thoughts, words, actions?

Has God given you the power to obey Him in all circumstances?

Has God given you everything you need for life and Godliness?

Can you truly do all   things through Christ?