But Timothy… has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you.
1 Thessalonians 3:6 (NIV)
Hopefully, we all have some, perhaps many, good memories of our journey through life. However, memories aren’t always good or pleasant, are they? Strangely, bad memories can more often come to mind and taunt us; they echo in the chambers of our minds like a reoccurring nightmare. Conversely, joyful memories tend to be more fleeting, even if they do come with a warm feeling.
Troubling memories of experiences best forgotten can affect our emotional wellbeing, our spiritual state, and our relationship with God, who loves us. The apostle Paul must have been confronted by all of the above; the memory of Stephen’s death and persecution of believers detailed in Acts 8:1-3 were actions that Paul had to live with. As we know, Paul endured much as a follower of Christ, including some on-going ‘torment’ that he referred to in 2 Corinthians 12:7.
Paul offers inspired advice regarding the way we should approach our daily lives and the focus of our thinking. In Philippians 4:8 we read: ‘Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.’ Today, there are thousands of books and articles written about positive thinking and well-being but can any of them better the summary of Paul’s words here?
Paul also advises us: ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ (vv.6-7).
These scriptures are worthy of frequent contemplation for Christian believers. Likewise, Paul also writes, ‘…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 3:13-14).
There is no escaping the reality of our lives, past and present, which can derail us emotionally and spiritually, if we are not careful. However, there are words of encouragement, help and support in the pages of our precious Bibles. Let’s read, pray, take note, and hold on to them, so that they become an active part of our memories, which we can bring to instant recall in times of need, as we look forward and not back to the past. God can deal with past troubles, mistakes and regrets – after all, we’re informed in Revelation 21:5 that, “I am making everything new!”
Heavenly, loving Father, and Lord Jesus Christ, guide us with the Holy Spirit, not to get bogged down with bitter memories from past mistakes, but to look to you and our future glory. Amen.
Study by Kevin Harris
About the writer:
Kevin Harris attends the Watford congregation of Grace Communion International.
St. Peter’s Church
61 Westfield Avenue
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