Was 2014 tough for you? Were there painful moments you just can’t seem to come to terms with? Or maybe your hurt occurred a long time ago, but you never experienced closure with the issue.
In this month’s From the Pastor’s Heart letter, Dr. Stanley tells a story about how he realized he had unresolved pain from his past and how God used it to teach him about His love. He also shares these four tips for overcoming a painful past:
1. Be honest with yourself (Psalm 51:6). Don’t try to ignore or deny the truth of what you are feeling. Our tendency is to try to ignore our past and bury our pain. However, if you don’t face what God wants to reveal within your heart, you’ll continue to suffer the harmful effects of these damaging emotions.
2. Stop blaming others (Psalm 51:3-4; Col. 3:12-13). As long as you find a reason to shift the responsibility to someone else for whatever is missing or wrong in your life, you delay God’s healing. Even if your hurts run deep, it is vital that you forgive anyone who has wronged you (Col. 3:12-13).
3. Ask the Lord to heal the broken places in your life (Jer. 17:14). Specifically name each area and confess any sinful responses to these emotions. Then cooperate with God’s healing process. The Holy Spirit will restore and transform you into Christ’s image as you yield to His authority.
4. Realize that emotional healing takes time (Psalm 25:4-5). You can’t simply decide not to feel those painful emotions anymore. God will work steadily and lovingly to help you overcome your hurts so you can become the person He desires you to be and accomplish what He’s called you to do.
Life isn’t easy. We will experience pain, loss, and difficulties, but that doesn’t mean God wants us to suffer. As Christ told the disciples, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
The miracle that God performs is that He turns our mourning into gladness (Psalm 30:11) and our grief into joy (John 16:20). No matter what happens this year, we pray you receive great gladness and joy from the Lord and rest in His promises and love.
Dr. Stanley talks more about overcoming past hurts in this month’s From the Pastor’s Heart letter.