God Speaks to Our Regrets

Woman at beach enjoying the sun on her face with her eyes closed

We all have experienced regret. Maybe it was as simple as I wish I hadn’t eaten that cookie or I can’t believe I said that. But there are other situations we would undo if we could that have a greater impact, like getting involved in a toxic relationship or making a poor choice that brought about life-long painful consequences.

“I am suicidal at this point.” These were the words my husband muttered, his mind already taken over by the enemy who came to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). Scripture teaches that our struggle is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12), and unfortunately, I had seen this to be true throughout our marriage. Little did I know, I was on the eve of living the reality of life forever changed because of death.

Suicide was a topic not discussed by many, and it was one of those out-there topics that only happened to “other people.” 

At that time, I believed this certainly would not be my story.

When he confessed that he was suicidal after being confronted with sin, I felt it was a manipulative ploy. One where we would feel sorry for him and turn the focus from his sin to sympathy. I really did not believe he was seriously considering the unimaginable. If only I had known…as I replay that night in my head, a list of should’ve, could’ve, would’ve’s fill my mind. 

For me, rather than allowing Satan further destruction through regrets, I choose to rest in the sovereignty of God who is all-powerful and all-knowing. 

 The Lies Satan Wants Us to Believe

  • If I had done this or that, my children would have had an earthly dad.
  •  If I had been a better wife, my husband would not have sought fulfillment in extramarital relationships.
  •  If I had not been a controller, God wouldn’t have had to launch me into a season where I was completely out of control.

If, if, if… 

Your story might be different, and I pray that it is.

Guilt, and all the ifs, are part of the grieving process, no matter what the situation. 

Even when death comes for a loved one after a long life, we often feel we could have done more to keep them with us longer. Living without a loved one hurts too much. So, often we think and rethink all the should’ve, could’ve, and would’ves. We say we should have found a different doctor or tried a different food regimen. We could have looked for a helpful counselor. Or, had we known we had such little time, we would have conquered that bucket list. Unfortunately, this list goes on and on.

In the case of suicide or unexpected death, friends and well-meaning bystanders are also willing to add to the list with their questions: Did you see this coming? Did you see the signs of depression? Why didn’t you believe his cry for help? Or do you not have insurance? You didn’t travel? And why didn’t you plan for life as a widow? These questions, and more, torment those left behind.

I absolutely would have done anything, and possibly laid down my own life, for the man I had vowed to stay with forever. You probably would have done the same, but God uses the road of suffering for good. 

Some Good in the Pain

  • I have a greater intimacy with the Lord that I never would have had without suffering.
  • I watched and experienced the faithfulness of God in big and small ways.
  • He has heard my cries and has been faithful to me.
  • God has been true to His promises, especially the promise to be a Father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5). Even today there are times that I wish my children had had an earthly father, but we have trusted God with this loss and have experienced His presence.
  •  I have witnessed God’s protection over my family and have watched each one comfort as they have been comforted(2 Corinthians 1:3-5). Thankfully, I can also testify of the miraculous, each one of my children walks with the Lord and have become men and women who trust God and live their lives for His glory. 

Blunders, errors, and mishaps are made by every one of us. They are unavoidable because we are human with a sinful nature. The Bible is full of stories of people who made mistakes.

God Speaks to Our Regrets 

If you regret sinful choices – there is hope!

“For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). 

If the enemy has his way – God will restore what he has destroyed or robbed us of!

 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Genesis 50:20).

If you are consumed with looking back – redirect your focus! 

“Do not call to mind the former things or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:18-19).

 “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” Philippians 3:12-14).

God is and was in complete control. This is true according to His Word and it is the foundation that I have learned to rest on. But there are times that we will never be able to understand, with our finite minds, where Satan, the ruler of this world, has a momentary victory, or so it seems. I willingly would have gone to great expense, to get my husband the help he needed. We did seek counsel, we did pray, and we fought the spiritual battle for years. But we did not win, this side of heaven. At least not from a natural perspective. However, God promises to take what was meant for evil and turn it into good. He promises to work all things together for those who love Him. So even though it appears that Satan was victorious, I believe otherwise.

One of the biggest benefits of past mistakes or regrets is that we can use them to comfort as comforted, challenge others from lessons learned, or even strengthen others. This is my prayer, and it was also God’s admonition to Peter just before he denied Christ,

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers (Luke 22:31-32).