Is it Biblical To Live With Regret?

by Daryl Evans on September 3, 2011 · Print Print · Email Email

To some the glass is half full.  To others the glass is half empty.  Some people have a real positive disposition about things in life even when maybe things don’t seem to be going their way.  Other people may seem to us to be more cynical and to always feel that the world is out to get them.  If things are good for them now, wait a few minutes for things to turn around.  Both of these descriptions are somewhat exaggerations but I think you get my point, which is that we all have different outlooks on life.

'After drunken night at Chris' II_MMVI' photo (c) 2007, D. Sinclair Terrasidius - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/Our outward disposition is often closely linked to our circumstances in life and often we can be filled with regrets.  We may have regrets from many different areas of life.  Here are just a few examples…

  • We may have regrets about our childhood.  Maybe you were raised in a single parent household.  You resent the fact that your father (or mother) was not part of your upbringing. Most statistics show that at least one in every 4 children born in the United States will be raised with only one parent.
  • Regrets about our finances.  Maybe you borrowed more than you were able to pay back to get through college.  You bought a car that was more than you could afford.  Our finances greatly affect our outlook on life.  Jesus often spoke on topics that included finances or stewardship.
  • Regrets about our children.  Maybe you wanted children and weren’t able to have your own.  Or you wanted two boys and two girls and only had one child.  Or maybe you had healthy children and they are growing up and ready to leave the fold and your relationship with them is shattered or strained in some way.  This will cause great pain and often significant regrets.
  • Regrets about relationships or maybe even our marriage partner.  Relationship issues can bring us down and make us feel insecure or even depressed.  Even though divorce statistics are very high, its affects on each person has not diminished.  Divorce is not simply like choosing the wrong car to buy and later getting another one…no divorce often makes each person involved feel a sense of failure for whatever went wrong in the relationship.

This is obviously only the tip of the iceberg concerning areas that we may have regrets.  We have all heard someone look back on their life and say that maybe they made some bad choices but they live with no regrets.  We may wonder if I will be able to say that and if that is even a Biblical principle.  My goal for this discussion will be for us to think through this topic of regrets and whether it is Biblical to live with regrets.

Regrets are often times the result of sin in our life.  Think about it.  Think about specific regrets that you have in your life and ask yourself if they are the result of sin or unwise choices in your life.  Maybe you have been divorced or have had to file for bankruptcy or no longer speak to your children…if this is the case; it is almost assuredly the result of some sin.  Maybe it is not even your sin but the sin of someone that has left you with regrets.  We must acknowledge that this is a fallen world and we all mess up all the time.  Romans 3:10 says, “There is no one righteous, not even one.”  This verse is one of many that shows us that we all mess up all the time.  Even when we try to do good, we simply cannot do it.  Read the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 7 where he seems to have a discussion with himself and seems frustrated with the fact that even when we try to do the right or good thing, we simply cannot do it.  We fall short all the time.  And because we fall short, we have to often face difficult consequences.  There is a penalty for our sin.  Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I could spend much more time with those thoughts from Romans but simply they show us that we are all messed up fallen created beings.  Because we fall short (or sin) we will have hard times in life and often regrets.  So how do we handle these regrets?  One place we could turn would be the entire book of Psalms.  These 150 chapters are filled with many writers crying out to God with often laments and asking God for help.  The writers of Scripture do not try to cover up or act like they have it all together but cry out to God for help in their personal lives.  Looking to Psalms seems to give us the correct way to continue in life and work through our problems or regrets in life.  Search the Psalms and see the many things the writers ask or inquire of the Lord.  I’d just like to look at one verse from Psalm 4.  Psalm 4:1 says, “Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God, Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.” Now its true we don’t know the exact circumstances of this Psalm but the principle is clear.  We have a God who hears our every prayer.  We have a God that is righteous and cares about our every care (or my distress in Ps. 4.1).  We have a God who shows us mercy even when we don’t deserve it.  The rest of the Psalm (through verse eight ) shows that God is patient with us even when we stray (or follow other gods).

The God of the Bible is the one true God that loves us and cares for our every care and hurt.  He does not delight in seeing us go through hardship or pain but often that is where we grow in Him.  We often grow spiritually through hardships and trials (James 1).  We must learn how to live each moment reliant fully on God.  We should model our prayers and our life like the writers of Scripture as they are not afraid to tell God what is on their hearts.  God can handle our thoughts and our prayers.  We all will have things happen in life that we wish were different (regrets).  But do these regrets control us?  Do I allow my regrets in life to smother my Christian witness?  Hopefully the answer to this is no.  Just think about one of the most memorable stories in the New Testament.  Shortly before Jesus was going to be betrayed and crucified Jesus told His disciples that all of the 12 disciples would fall away and deny him.  You know the story…Peter strongly opposed Jesus and tried to correct him by saying “even if all the others fall away, I won’t”.  Jesus told him that he would deny 3 times before the rooster crows and it happened just as Jesus said.  Do you think that Peter regretted this?  Absolutely!!!  Did he let it dampen his witness?  Not after Jesus restored him on the beach in a beautiful story in John 21.  Now I’m sure Peter never forgot this sin and shortcoming but he did not dwell on it.  He later preached the gospel of Christ with the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.  This should be our model.  We may never forget our individual regrets in life but how do we respond to them?

A movie came out a few years ago called “The Bucket List” and starred Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.  These two men were shown as being on the back end of life and they were making and trying to complete each thing on their “bucket list.”  The list included things like ‘sky diving’ and other exciting events but at the end of the movie they both come to realize that life is about more than exciting events but about family and being true to yourself.  My prayer for each of you today is for you to come to a similar realization that the life that God wants for us is not a life filled with dwelling on our regrets and sin but by living a victorious life.  The God that we serve has power over sin and death and He is the one that will one day give us victory over these as well.  Today, pray to God like the writers of the Psalms and allow Him to lift the burden that you need taken away and give Him the glory for great thing he hath done.

Praise Him,

Daryl

 

Sources

The Holy Bible, New International Version

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 



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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrae Palmer September 6, 2011 at 10:24 pm

This is really a blessing to read this and gave me a new look on this subject. Thanks for sharing

Reply

Tim October 28, 2011 at 10:36 pm

This article is quite encouraging. I have had terrible regrets over how we have squandered our money; but the precipitating event was most definitely sin. I was following my own path instead of seeking God’s will in my life.

Reply

riley September 22, 2012 at 7:56 pm

luke 9:62 and jesus said unto him, no man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

Reply

dinesh kc January 31, 2013 at 12:04 am

It’s beautiful, encouraging. God bless.

Reply

k.nanny March 20, 2013 at 3:11 am

God will help us out of regrets of d past

Reply

Dominique May 24, 2013 at 3:38 am

Thank you Daryl. Been experiencing cycles of regret, which leaves me feeling miserable and stuck. I can’t change my past but I can respond in a way that pleases and honours God! May God continue to bless you and your writing! D

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