Acorns From Oakes

Seeing With Our Father's Eyes

The Pain That Won’t Go Away

   The Bible tells us how Joseph’s brothers plotted against him when he was a teenager. They thought to murder him, but finally chose to sell him as a slave (why not make at least a little profit on your brother?). They agreed to lie to their father about it all…leading him to the false conclusion that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. TWENTY-TWO YEARS LATER, the brothers meet Joseph again. Twenty-two years of lying…twenty-two years of wondering if their flesh and blood was dead or alive…twenty-two years of heart-rending sorrow which they  cost their father…twenty-two years of unrelenting guilt…twenty-two years of pain that lived in their hearts and haunted them! If they could only go back and undo it, but they couldn’t.

   Have you ever been there? Are you living with some pain of long-standing that simply refuses to leave you alone? The brothers met Joseph again, and, amazingly, he tells them it’s okay…that in spite of their evil plan, God had good in mind. He tells them not to be angry with themselves. In short, he forgives them freely, completely.

   In the final chapter of Genesis, when their father, Jacob, had died, a sad scene is described. We learn what is still going on in the hearts of the brothers. “Now,” they reason, “now that our father is dead, Joseph will get even with us. It is time and past. How could it be otherwise?” And they are afraid. They send a frightened message to Joseph, trying to convince him not to kill them even though their father is dead.

   Their self-inflicted pain had not gone away. It was still alive and well…after endless years…in their hearts. An incredible thing happens when Joseph gets their pathetic message. He weeps! The mistreated, abused, forsaken brother is able to weep over the pain of his once would-be tormentors…his own brothers. So many years and no release for them. They were still captives…still tormented by their own evil…still frightened in life.

   How many of us are still carrying it…our evil…our shame…our guilt? Jesus has spoken the word of forgiveness. But we go on our lonely, forsaken way, not quite able to believe that it could be true for us. True for others? Yes, of course! But for such as us? No. There could never truly be a new beginning for people who have done the things we have done…thought the things we have thought.

   Dear friend, beloved of God, the Bible says that Jesus didn’t just come to speak nice words…He came to proclaim release to the captives. It is long enough now that you have carried your guilt. It’s been so long and so terrible hasn’t it? Your pain has never gone away. How long has it been? Don’t keep letting the days become years…become decades. Isn’t it time now…time to go your way forgiven and rejoicing? Jesus can deal with your every sin…no matter how grievous. Believe it! Accept it! Enjoy it! Let Him restore to you the joy of your salvation…please! 

 

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7 thoughts on “The Pain That Won’t Go Away

  1. There have certainly been times in my life when “my sin was always before me”…and there are still days when that it true (thankfully the gap is widening between those days).

    Something bothers me about holding on to guilt for too long. Guilt has a purpose for a period of time. After that, it wears out its welcome. It has led us to repentance and confession and forgiveness (at least God’s forgiveness)…there is no need for the guilt beyond this, but we hang onto it anyway. I think its time for us to start agreeing with God. Freedom is a promise that we receive in Christ (all promises are “YES” in Christ – 2 Cor. 1)…how dare we try to pay for what has already been purchased! Some of the readers can correct me if they like…but isn’t holding on to guilt some vain attempt at personal atonement? That somehow if I continually remind myself of my sin that God and the world will know how serious of a disciple I am…that if I appear to enjoy life and accept His forgiveness that I am somehow taking advantage of His Grace, which places us (in our own minds) in a precarious state.

    Is that in our thought processes? I think I have been there a time or two (at least subconsciously).

    • oakesclan on said:

      Your reminder of David always seeing his sin before him is a good one. And there is value in that, especially when we are in that prolonged period of refusing to acknowledge sin or of denial with regard to our sin. But with God’s help…through the redemption we have in Christ and the continuing forgiveness made available in Him…there is something that surpasses seeing our sin and guilt ever before our faces. In the first gospel sermon, Peter quotes David from Psalm 16. In Acts 2:25, Peter credits David with saying, “I saw the Lord always before me…” But Psalm 16 has David saying it this way, “I have set the Lord always before me…” I like that. It is intentional. It is a way of seeing by faith. Because of God’s grace, because of the Cross of Christ, we are able to see something beyond our terrible sin and guilt before our faces. We see the Lord before us…because, by faith, we choose to see Him. This is the gracious possibility God opens up to Christians.
      I think the insight you offer on our struggle with guilt which can certainly become excessive and take on proportions God never intended are very true. I can fold in on myself, refuse admittance of God’s grace into my heart and life, and render myself practically useless in the great cause God wishes my story to add to.
      But then, doesn’t Paige offer a great insight below, as she reminds us that many guilty souls find themselves surrounded by “upstanding” church folks who won’t let them forget their guilt or move beyond it to useful life in the family of God.
      At this time, I am not interested at all in allowing my sin and shame to stop me in my service to His Great Name…but, if I am honest, there still come times when something will surprise me…remind me…and I think back to the darkness…and I can feel all over again the very real overwhelming guilt and red-faced shame of it all. Now that’s the truth…because so far, in this life, I have not been able to forget it. BUT…by HIS GRACE, I refuse to allow those unwanted memories to stop me.
      It is good for our hearts to be established by grace, isn’t it, son? In fact…it is essential.
      Thanks for sharing such good insights.
      Can’t wait to see you guys next week. Fly and travel safe. You are always in my heart and so often in my prayers.

  2. Sometimes we have people around us that will not let us accept forgiveness … they expect us to wander around in a melancholy state continuously contemplating our “horridness”. The minute they see us smile or dare laugh they comment that we sure don’t seem sorry for what we’ve done. It is very hard to move past this.

    I lived for a very long time swamped in guilt. I could not move past what I had done. I felt too bad for God’s forgiveness and could not accept His grace. For me it took quite a while for me to accept and understand what God intended for me through Jesus’ death. But once I really understood it, it was like something clicked. I was able to move past that guilt and begin to accept His gift. I was even able to start ignoring those that felt I had not lived “guilty” long enough.

    Fortunately, I’ve learned from my own experience that if you surround yourself with people that rejoice in your forgiveness and allow you to move past it and be happy … you really can be. I’m learning more and more what God really intended His family to look and act like. In that family, “the pain that won’t go away”, doesn’t have to be our reality.

    • oakesclan on said:

      You are so right, Paige…sometimes we have people around us who will not let us put down our burdens of shame and guilt. They keep handing them back to us. I think of some very old cartoons where Yosemite Sam would get a stick of dynamite and try to blow up Bugs Bunny only to have Bugs retrieve the explosive at the appropriate moment and hand it back to Sam so it can blow up in his face (or some such thing). We try to live and serve on in spite of our past and others keep retrieving that stuff so it can blow up in our face all over again. As you said, it is very difficult to move past that kind of treatment. And it is so unlike our Lord for people to treat sinners this way.
      I love the “aha” moment you had when it clicked for you…all that God has done for us in our blessed Savior Jesus Christ…love that He spoke the word of healing that enabled your spiritual legs to walk again…right past that guilt…love that He put a new heart in you that could feel again and could receive His gift…and I love too that He enabled you to stop letting those sinners who cannot see their own guilt, because they are too busy looking at yours, define you any longer.
      And your last paragraph might have been written, as another said, “in light on hummingbird’s wings” for the brilliant hope and joy that shines through it. I, too, was lifted by what you said. May it ever be true and growing in you and in us all.
      Thank you, dear Paige.

  3. I lived with so much pain and guilt that it kept me away from the Lord for around 20 years. I didn’t want anything to do with Him or His people. I let the actions of a few people keep me away from the only source of Hope and Healing that I had. I searched for that in all sorts of other things and people with horrendous results. I finally realized how empty and pitiful my life was but I didn’t really know how I could fix it. I didn’t think God wanted me back after all I had done. And honestly when I did make my feeble attempts to come back to Him, I didn’t find a family that would accept me unless I would pretend that everything was fine.

    Thank you Father for leading me to the place where I could admit to my flaws and still be accepted. For taking me to a family that would love me even when everything wasn’t fine. That helped me heal so I could let go of the guilt of my past.

    • oakesclan on said:

      Twenty years of pain and guilt! Twenty years “away from the Lord”! Ever since the cross of our Lord, no one…not anyone…should ever have to go through what you did. How did the church become a “polite” society so disengaged with broken people that we actually make it all too clear that we don’t want them? How did we so soon forget our own brokenness and the kind of help we needed once upon a time to get to Jesus’ healing and transforming forgiveness ourselves? God help us.
      It is so sad…the loss of time which could have been spent in the loving arms of Jesus had not people…even those who are called “His” people…made it so difficult as to render it nearly impossible. I hurt when I think not only of your long dark night but of all the people that might have been helped along the way by a wounded healer such as you, Sherry…if only you and Jesus had not been interrupted by unloving people who seemed to speak for Him. But they didn’t, did they?
      With you, I am grateful, for the truth that Father God stayed on the job for you…like a determined shepherd who wouldn’t give up on His lost sheep. I am praising Him that His persevering love brought you to a place of welcome…of acceptance…of hope…of growth…of new life…and of continued rejoicing in Him and in His people.
      May God help us…in His church…to get a clue…to understand and fulfill our purpose to be like Jesus…the doctor for sick folk…the servant for all us little lords in the world…the giver among all the grabbers…Whose eyes still light up whenever any weary and wounded wanderer turns her feet toward home.

  4. Email Girl on said:

    Doug,

    This post encourages me in more than one way. I need to put down the shame and guilt I carry with me for the way I have never fully found that trust in God that I know others have. Its the shame of how I’ve behaved that holds me back from giving into His will for my life. If only I could be free of that…maybe things in my life would change dramatically. I have moments when I think God wants to hear from me…but they are only moments. Most of the time I can’t talk to God without thinking…He doesn’t want to hear me because I’ve not listened to Him for so long. Thats crazy, I know…but thats how I think sometimes. I think the key to believing He loves me, is to love myself 1st.

    The other thing I got from this post was about a different kind of pain. Not pain I brought on myself…but pain that was forced on me. Its a burden I carry throughout my life. I think if I’m ever going to find my way out of my current situation I will have to heal that pain from long ago. (that ended roughly Twenty Two years ago…oddly enough) And I will never heal that pain without trusting God to see me through it. I wonder what it was in Joseph that made him able to forgive his brothers for the way they treated him? I know a little something of how hard that must be. It must be the presence of God that gave him the desire to, and the ability to forgive. He cried for them…for goodness sakes. I don’t know how I will ever get there.

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