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Today’s Truth

“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).

Friend to Friend

There was a world of hurt in my family growing up. When I became a Christian, there was a world of forgiveness that needed to take place. It took me some time, but I eventually forgave my dad for all the things he did. However, every time I remembered what was done and how it was done, I felt the hurt all over again. I wondered, Have I really forgiven him if I can’t forget the pain? The answer is yes.

We hear the term, forgive and forget, but how can we forget? Don’t you wish there was a delete button for our brains? The key to understanding biblical “forgetting” lies in the way God “forgets our sins and remembers them no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). Have you ever wondered, how does an omniscient God who knows all things all the time “forget” anything or “remember” anything? Consider these verses:

  • “God remembered Noah” (Genesis 8:1).
  • “[God] remembered Abraham” (Genesis 19:29.)
  • “God remembered Rachel” (Genesis 30:22).

In each incident, God remembering someone meant He was about to do something—He was about to act on their behalf.

If God remembering means He is about to act, then God forgetting means that He is not going to act. When He forgets our sins, He chooses not to act on them by punishing us.

The psalmist declared, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).

While we cannot forget the wounds of our past, we can choose not to act on them. We can choose to forgive the person who has hurt us and not allow the memory to control our lives. In that sense, we can forgive and forget.

Paul wrote, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…” (Philippians 3:13). What did Paul have to forget? He had been unjustly beaten with rods, flogged with whips, pelted with stones, locked in prison, persecuted by fellow Jews, and threatened by Gentiles he was trying to help. He often went without food, without clothes, and without a pillow on which to lay his head (2 Corinthians 11:23–29). This is a lot worse than someone hurting your feelings. And yet, Paul essentially said, “I let it go so I can move on to something better.”

When Paul talks about “forgetting what is behind,” he does not mean that he somehow wiped the past from his memory. Instead, he made a conscious refusal to let [the past] absorb his attention and impede his progress. He didn’t allow the past to paralyze his potential for the future. Instead, he used the past to fuel his faith as he moved toward what lie ahead.

Yes, I remember the wounds from my past, but I can honestly say I no longer act on them. When I remember, I don’t feel the resentment, bitterness, or shame of my early years. My past may color my present, but it no longer controls it. Because the memories have so little power over my actions and emotions these days, they come to the surface much less often. This is how I “forget” what is behind and recall how God has redeemed my story at the same time. That’s one way our worst chapters can become our greatest victories.

Let’s Pray

Lord, I know I can’t wipe the hurt from my memory, but I can wipe the bitterness from my heart. Help me to see my pain as an opportunity to grow better rather than bitter.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

What is one hurt or pain you’ve been lugging around like dead weight? What good has it done to hang onto the hurt? What is God telling you today about letting it go?

More From the Girlfriends

What if your worst chapters could become your greatest victories? I know that they can!

Everyone likes a good story, but not everyone likes their own story. My new book, When You Don’t Like Your Story, challenges us to ask: What if God doesn’t want us to rip out our difficult chapters but repurpose them for good?

In fact, the worst parts of your story might just be what God uses the most. 2021 might just be the year to turn your story around and write a different ending. Click here to join Sharon’s FREE online When You Don’t Like Your Story Bible Study running February 15 – March 8.

© 2021 by Sharon Jaynes. All rights reserved.

5 Responses to “How Can I Forgive and Forget?”

  1. Tommy says:

    ..SO GOOD

    “If God remembering means He is about to act, then God forgetting means that He is not going to act….While we cannot forget the wounds of our past, we can choose not to act on them. We can choose to forgive the person who has hurt us and not allow the memory to control our lives. In that sense, we can forgive and forget.”….amen, well shared Sharon.

  2. Tommy says:

    ..SO GOOD

    “If God remembering means He is about to act, then God forgetting means that He is not going to act…While we cannot forget the wounds of our past, we can choose not to act on them. We can choose to forgive the person who has hurt us and not allow the memory to control our lives. In that sense, we can forgive and forget.”…amen, well shared Sharon.

  3. Carolyn says:

    Thank You for sharing this! All too often memories from my past come up – lately more than ever – and they make me shudder in shame. God has flipped my perspective from bring ashamed of what I’ve done to rejoicing in how much He has transformed me – because I am simply not the person I used to be. But when those memories come up, and I can’t forget them, I have to realize that the devil is trowing them in my face as an attack to put my head down. But God is the Lifter of my head! Sharon I’m encouraged by your words, “the memories have so little power over my actions and emotions these days”. This is so true! I feel so beaten down sometimes by these memories, but you’ve lifted the veil! These memories do not have any influence on my life today whatsoever! They have just been making me feel badly about myself – that’s it. Wow, you’ve REALLY helped me today, THANK YOU!!

  4. Angela says:

    I have to admit I thought I was doing good. I thought I could honestly say I wouldnt change a thing in my story because it has made me who I am and I have seen the beautiful things God can do with the ugly. YES ,I can still say that but lately there are some things that I think I just buried to try and forget. Thank you for your book and these devotions! They help remind me of God’s TRUTH. The funny thing is I thought I was buying the book for someone else but when it arrived I realized God intended it for me first.

  5. Cynthia says:

    This was truly amazing because I think about the hurt and pain that I have experienced but I’m so thankful that I am not that same person anymore. The devil has his moment where he throws those things of the pat in my face, but I can say by the Grace and Forgiveness of God they are no longer a distraction. I don’t even give them a second thought because I am striving and thriving on keeping my focus on what’s ahead/ right in front of me and that’s God because He will never leave me nor forsake me. I can definitely say that being in God’s Truth I will always overcome and I know deep in my heart my good days outweigh my bad days. My pain and suffering has taught me alot.

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