In 2006, Vice-President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded a prominent Austin, Texas lawyer while the two men were quail hunting in South Texas. Cheney accidentally fired a shotgun at the man while trying to aim for a bird. Late-night comedians and newspapers had a ball using this story. Don’t you know, the Vice-President sincerely regretted what happened? But his story reminds that all of us live with regrets.
Everybody does some stupid things.
If you were to make a list of the regretful things you have done what would be on your list? You might not want anyone to know some of the items on your list, and you know your life would be happier without those regrets. Yes, every person has done something, or said something, regrettable.
God can’t eliminate the possibility of regrets without also eliminating our freedom of choice.
Someone might argue, If God really cared about us He would eliminate all the circumstances that put us in regrettable situations. That way, we would consistently make wise decisions. But God couldn’t do that without also eliminating one of His best gifts—free will. God created us with the freedom to say Yes, and to say No, to make our own choices. And, what’s more, we humans typically make choices that are in keeping with our sinful nature.
This Bible principle of “free will” is an important one. No person can claim that a certain person or situation was responsible for his or her poor choice. Such as, “My husband’s temper made me burn the house down.” Or, “My financial situation forced me to max out 6 credit cards.” No, we make our own choices. We are responsible for the choices and decisions we make.
Even when we do something dumb, God is still faithful to us.
Have you done something in the past that left you feeling disgusted with yourself? Do you sometimes think your stupidity makes it so that God can’t love you anymore?
You see, our mistakes and misgivings don’t mean that God is through with us, or that God has washed His hands of us. God’s promise still stands. He has a hopeful plan and future in mind for you (see Jeremiah 29:11). Let God’s faithfulness to you set you free from feelings of neurotic guilt.
All acts of sin carry consequences.
Not all of our regrets were sinful decisions, but many were. Here’s the truth: No person ever gets away with sin, the violation of God’s moral and ethical standards. The Bible is clear: sin’s payout, sin’s pension, sin’s consequence is death (see Romans 6:23). “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7). Yes, sin carries consequences.
God forgives sinful regrets.
What if your regret is a big, stupid act of sin? Or maybe you just aren’t certain that your mistake was a sin, but you can’t help feeling like God is angry with you anyway. In either case, remember what the Bible calls the Gospel, the wonderfully good news that Jesus died on a cross to provide forgiveness for all your sins. Jesus has already done everything necessary to make peace with you and God. Unless you go to Jesus, you will pay an awful price for your regrettable choices.
What I pray you will see is that even if you feel alone and guilty, you are not alone. Take refuge in God. Confess your sin to Him. Ask for His forgiveness. Your misgivings, mistakes, and regrets are simply an opportunity for you to trust the Lord. No regret is so serious or self-disgusting that God won’t forgive it if you just ask Him. God’s forgiveness removes our guilt. Isn’t this hopeful?
(Some of these words come from Chapter 1 of my new book, Every Day Can Be a Great Day: Convincing Promises from Psalm 34.)