Read Isaiah 43:18-19
18 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland. (NIV)
There are two types of regret. One is to regret the hurt we caused someone, the reckless word or conduct that left scars. That is healthy: we need to admit our failures and embrace the grace available in Jesus.
The other sort of regret is less healthy. It is regret over various life choices we have made. The sort of regret that has us wistfully look back on our lives and wish we had taken that job, gone somewhere different on that holiday, moved to a regional area, bought that house. The problem with such regret is that it is futile. We can’t change these choices whether they were truly wrong or actually right.
Which leads to another issue with such regret: even though some of those choices we have made might have been unwise, in the providence of God they may have brought us closer to him. One unwise choice doesn’t put us out of God’s purposes. He is an expert in redeeming lost opportunities and mistaken decisions.
As our text reminds us in another historical context, God has plans for our future. Dwelling on the past prevents us from seeing what God is doing in the present. Prevents us from reflecting in hope on what he is going to do in the future.
Our past records are inevitably a mixture of right and wrong, good and bad. Bring what is obviously wrong to Jesus. As to the other choices we have made, trust that God has woven them into his good purposes for us. We cannot change the past, but we can change how we look at it and so change the way we look at our present and our future.