Philippians 3:13 NKJV Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
Being able to forget the pains and upsets of the past is the first step in moving forward and obtaining healing and peace. In Hebrews 11, the apostle Paul speaks about the faith of Noah, Abraham, and Sarah. (1) However, I want to call your attention to verse 15.
Hebrews 11:15 NKJV And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.
What a powerful thought! Not forgetting, or we'd say "dwelling on the past", would have kept all three of them from living out the life God had called them to. Worse yet, they would have returned to the place they had come out of! Isaiah 43:18 gives specific instruction about forgetting. "Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old." Then in verse 19, it tells us why. "Behold I will do a new thing." (2) Notice that the first step to receiving the "new thing", was deliberately forgetting the past.
Being able to forget is a spiritual promise given to the believer by God, as much as is faith or love, peace or healing. God has given us the power to forget. But it comes as a result of actions on our part and faith in God's willingness to help us. (3) Proverbs 16:3 tells us to "Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established." Our part is to commit the process to God. His part is to establish it. There is one scripture I especially like.
Isaiah 41:12 The Message 11-13 ...When you go out looking for your old adversaries you won't find them—Not a trace of your old enemies, not even a memory. That's right. Because I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I'm not letting go. I'm telling you, 'Don't panic. I'm right here to help you.'
God's desire is for us to not have even "a trace" of memory of the painful event in our lives. In the next two verses, the prophet Isaiah speaks further on His desire for us to be able to forget.
Isaiah 26:14 Amplified They [the former tyrant masters] are dead, they shall not live and reappear; they are powerless ghosts, they shall not rise and come back. Therefore You have visited and made an end of them and caused every memory of them [every trace of their supremacy] to perish.
Isaiah 54:14 KJV Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.
Now, when I talk about forgetfulness. I am speaking from my own experience. After going through a tough physical and mental battle, I found myself unable to react in a manner I deemed as "normal". My every response to any situation, no matter how trivial, was extreme and negative. Inside I longed to walk in peace and to feel safe, but outwardly, I was unable to do so, being held back by habits I had formed during my illness. The habits I had formed to protect myself from bad feelings had instead placed me in an endless cycle of distress and confusion. Frankly, I couldn't see the way out. It was in my crying out to God, "How do I FORGET?? How can I change this?" that He answered my prayer and showed me it was in the forgetting, that I would finally be able to move forward.
In last week's study, I referred to the teaching of a popular preacher who said, "There is no such thing as an empty mind." Well, forgetfulness comes when you fill your mind with something else. Romans 12:2 states, "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Simply put, the mind is always going to be full of something. What you put in it is what will come out. (5) So if you are trying to find "that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" for your life, it starts by changing your thoughts. Spend time replacing the negative thoughts with positive, godly thoughts. Think on things that are "true, honest, pure, lovely, and of a good report" and they will crowd out the negative ones.(6)
We see this in these next verses.
2 Corinthians 10:5 KJV Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
1 Chronicles 16:15 KJV Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations;
Psalms 77:11-12 KJV I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. 12 I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.
The Word of God provides the cleansing for our mind that we seek for. (7) To "remember" is to "preserve the memory of" or "to have in mind an idea which had been in the mind before, and which recurs to the mind without effort". (8) We must remember all that Christ has done for us. We must remember what the Bible says about peace and healing. In the same turn, God wants us to forget, "to neglect, ignore, cease to care" about those things that have injured us. (8) Ephesians 5:26 calls this the "washing of the water of the Word". I like to think of that like an ocean wave that continues to return over and over again, until no trace of my footprints are left. But it is even better than that. Ephesians 4:4 tell us, "You have been called to one glorious hope for the future." I like that phrase. There is for me now "one glorious hope for the future".
(1) Hebrews 11:13 NKJV "they were assured of it"
(3) Hebrews 11:6 "believe that He is...a rewarder"
(5) Proverbs 23:7 "For as he thinketh...so is he"
(6) Philippians 4:8
(7) Matthew 6:31, 34 "take no thought, saying" 1 John 1:9 "to cleanse us"; Psalms 77:11-12 "talk of thy doings"
(8) Webster's Dictionary
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Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.