“Nature always wears the colors of the spirit”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Like a stormy sea

The waves smash into me

And I feel like I am drowning

If only…

No more terrible words than these

Because the suffering you bring on yourself

Is so much worse than the suffering you could not avoid

The email that should not have been sent

The word that should not have been spoken

The action that should have been taken and wasn’t

I’ve read that regret is the most common negative human emotion

Disappointment over our own foolish decisions and the consequences they cause

Regret like a sour fruit, shriveled and acidic

The bitter aftertaste of sin

“The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.” 

-Genesis 6:5-6

In Hebrew, this word regret means “to sigh”

As God cannot regret his actions the way we do

For he has never sinned

He has nothing to wish he had done differently

His regret the sorrow and sadness of deep disappointment

Even knowing what men were capable of, still being saddened by it

Jesus experienced physical pain

He felt the surging emptiness of loss

He asked that his cup be taken even knowing he would drink it to the last dregs

But he didn’t experience regret

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

– 2 Corinthians 7:10

Repentance I know is the cure for regret

A turning from sin

A learning from our mistakes instead of stubbornly clinging to them

Our fists clenched

Defensive and willful

Yet how often is my sorrow merely over the consequences of my actions

Not the actions themselves?

Did David repent because he realized his murder of Bathsheba’s husband

Was utterly abhorrent to God?

Or did he repent because he lost a child as a consequence of that sin?

The prophet Nathan confronted David

And David’s immediate response was to repent

As his clench fists opened

“I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13)

The child still died

Despite David’s impassioned prayer and fasting

The consequence remained

Yet in God’s hard-to-be-imagined grace

He had another child by Bathsheba

And his name was Solomon

Who would become the wisest man to ever live

And who would build the temple

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

– Romans 8:1-2

There are those who chose not to repent when faced with regret

Esau who gave up his birthright

And Judas who gave up his Savior to those who would kill him

They drowned in their regrets

Judas killing himself rather than facing the depth of his wrong

Why would we choose to swim in this murky, noxious water

When the crystal clear water of God’s forgiveness beckons

When there is no condemnation

The consequences may remain

They often do

Broken relationships, missed opportunities, and loss

But freedom is available despite the circumstances

The condemned man can still be free

The grieving woman can still find joy

“Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

– Psalm 51:10-12

So how to hang on to the lesson learned

Without hanging on to the grief

How do we find joy in the midst of regret?

The same man who sinned so terribly against his God

Called a man after God’s own heart

The one who penned so many of the psalms

Because even though God himself has never experienced the regret caused by sin

So many of the men and women he chose did

And when Jesus hung on that cross

He felt the weight of those regrets

Heavier than all the stones in all the world

Create in me a pure heart, O God

If David can pray it, then I can too

Restore to me the years the locusts have eaten

Draw my roots deep

So that no wind of sorrow or regret

Can steal the joy of a heart at peace with you

“In repentance and rest is your salvation,

In quietness and trust is your strength.”

– Isaiah 30:15b

Lord, grant me a heart of repentance

Help me choose to stop and rest in you

Still my mouth, so quick to defend

And teach me to trust in You alone.

“For his anger lasts only a moment,
    but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
    but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

– Psalm 30:5

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