Don’t be defined by past hurts

[Notice: I’m on vacation for August. So this month’s devotionals are some favourites from the past few years – and also previews of my upcoming book: “Up! – 313 Devotionals To Help You Start Your Day In A Biblical, Relevant Way.” Enjoy!]

In 1911 a psychologist named Edouard Claparede was treating a woman with no short-term memory. As you can imagine, her life was drastically altered because of this condition.

One day Claparede tried an experiment. At the start of every session they would shake hands. But this time, he hid a small pin inside his hand. When they shook, she got jabbed with the pin. A few minutes later, she didn’t even remember what had happened.

But from that moment on, even though she had no short-term memory, she never again felt comfortable shaking the doctor’s hand.

Somewhere deep within, she had a memory of pain.

Sound familiar?

You’ve been hurt. I’ve been hurt. We’ve all been hurt. Maybe to varying degrees, but it’s true. And sometimes these hurts have a way of defining how we live today. Just like that pin-pricked patient, you may not even know why you’re hesitant when it comes to other people or God, but you still make a habit of pulling back—of being less confident because of something that happened in the past.

I don’t think the answer is to pretend past hurts didn’t happen. But I do think a part of the answer is to name them for what they are, and to move into tomorrow with a steadfast confidence that the God who lifts you up is stronger than the hurts that weigh you down.

What if God’s promise to Joshua many years ago was also God’s promise to you? “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, ESV).

Think about whatever you’re facing in life. As you consider how you’re going to handle it, don’t let past problems define your current life. They’re a part of you. But they’re not all of you.

Instead, be strong and courageous. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

By Matthew Ruttan

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