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Remembering days gone by can be welcome or not welcome. Depending upon certain memories of people, places, and experiences, mental visits to times gone by are an emotional balm or an emotional challenge. God knows this. He knows all the thoughts and memories housed in your heart and in mine. He was with us when every memory was created. He will be with us when we opt to recall those memories—and resist them.

Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:10) assures us that He is the One who is defining our walk of faith. He is the One who is present throughout each creation of a memory, and is the One who can redeem it if need be. A good memory speaks for itself. A difficult memory requires the holiness of Jesus to make a memory refined by His grace. Only Jesus can do this. Only Jesus has the capacity of love to do this. Give Jesus your memories.

Lord, for those who call You Saviour and Lord, You grant the precious covering of Your Spirit that stores memories in accordance with Your value of us. Out of sheer love, You link yesterdays with today and tomorrow to make them spiritually profitable. Lord Jesus, You make all life worthwhile and promising, and for this praise and thanksgiving belong to You, Amen.

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When the prodigal son returned home, it was after a stint of wayward living, squandering resources, and living against the truths his father taught him. He expected to be relegated to clean the pig pen. Instead, his father noticed him from far off and ran to greet him. He was so thrilled that his son had come home. All was forgiven. A fine robe and ring were placed on him and the father called for a great banquet to be prepared in his honor. Quite a homecoming. Quite an acceptance, one this son knew he did not deserve.

God forgives that way. Fully. Intentionally. Lovingly. He forgives through His Son, Jesus Christ, the only One endowed with the holiness to forgive and cleanse sin—completely and forever. Whatever you are experiencing today that is painful due to sin, it is time for a trade. Trade your pain and shame for yesterday’s disappointments and give them to Jesus. In exchange, He will give to you a new heart and a new hope. That is what a loving Father does. This is what God wants to do for every one of his sons and daughters on earth.

Lord Jesus, You gave yourself fully on the cross so that Your shed blood would cover the sins of all persons for all time. Lord, we have no way of being covered by sin except for Your blood. Thank you, Jesus, for all you did at Calvary, and for all You continue to do by Your Spirit so persons will come to believe in You and receive Your gift of cleansing. Father God, thank You for making a way for all people to be accepted by You—no matter what. In Christ’s Name, Amen.

Did you ever want the opportunity to relive a moment? Specifically, a regrettable moment? Each of us can recall times in our lives when we said or did something we regret and as a result how a moment was recorded in our memory. That memory can haunt and rob peace, motivation, and joy. Thoughts of Jesus change that.

In order to know relief from regret, one must give that moment, that matter, over to the Lord Jesus. He wants to make it better. He wants to restore peace. This is done by a deliberate surrender of a matter, a memory. This can be difficult to do because holding on to regret can be its own form of comfort and punishment. Comfort because of connection to someone/something meaningful even if it produced a negative outcome; punishment because the guilt and shame associated with regret can seem deserving. Jesus Christ does not want you to live with guilt or shame. Not for one moment. At Calvary, Jesus took all that away from you and from me. Complete surrender to Jesus means that times of regret are in His hands—His nail-scarred hands. He will blanket you and your memory with peace if you give to Him the memory. This is what Calvary was for—your peace and your future.

Lord Jesus, You have the power to cloak memories with Thy grace so they do not overpower hearts and minds. Thank You, Lord, for taking what we give to you that we regret. Help us by Thy touch to relinquish memories into Thy loving care. In Thee, Amen.

Goodbyes are to be expected in life. They will come. Sometimes they are planned. Other times they are not. When there is ample time for preparation, a goodbye may be emotional yet not overwhelming. When a goodbye is abrupt, it can be devastating. Life can seem hopeless.

Seem is the key word.

When one lets Jesus into a goodbye, hope has presence. Life may not feel as though hope still abides; only the power and presence of Jesus allows for continued hope. Do not wait for feelings to be in balance. Feelings ebb and flow like the tides when goodbyes come into our lives. Jesus overrides feelings so that the certainty of His presence is all that is required to keep taking steps of hope.

Lord Jesus, You are our very present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46). Thank You, Lord, for being our hope when goodbyes come. Thank You for being our strength in our time of weakness. Oh, how we love You, Lord Jesus, Amen.

GRIEF AND SPECIAL OCCASIONS

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.   Ecclesiastes 3:4

If you have ever known a time in your life when marking a special occasion was especially difficult, then you are not alone. Meeting up with certain dates on the calendar can be particularly trying when they mean that the heart has to meet up with them. Grief is a primary reason for such difficult encounters with time, place, and season. Grief is a barometer that directs the heart.

Grief is a universal experience yet a most personal journey. Grief comes into our lives due to losses of loved ones due to deaths, expected or unexpected, divorce, fires, hurricanes, tornados, accidents, terrorism, and suicide. Loss comes because of empty nest, retirement, and relocation. Even the joy of marriage, a new job or a new home can prompt grief; sadness may come because even though there is a new excitement ahead, it means leaving certain people and places in order to begin something new.

When birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, holidays, and graduations come about, they may be too difficult to face by participating in a gathering or even acknowledging it. The heart registers the acknowledgement. Depending upon when and what the event is, a heart will begin to steer as to how to meet that given date/occasion. Perhaps it is best to acknowledge it alone without others present or with a few close individuals who will be sensitive to your feelings. Maybe it is best not to give a date attention at all so that it can pass without too much emotional tension. There may come a time in the future when grief lessens and that day can be faced with greater strength.

Another way to address special occasions is to do something for someone anonymously. If a child or spouse has died, it may be helpful to contact a local church or charity to see if you can make a donation in memory of a loved one. If a soldier has died, you may contact the respective branch of the military to see if you can make a donation to a special fund in his or her memory. If doing something other than giving money is more meaningful to you, ask these same organizations if you can volunteer your time to help them. Ask them what their needs are and see if there is a need that corresponds to meeting the emotional need inside of you. The point is not so much what you do as it is doing something that makes you feel as though your act of giving of self makes a contribution to a broader cause and blesses the memory of your loved one. Take the time to consider how you can best meet those needs inside of yourself and the Lord will guide you as to where to offer your time, talent or treasure.

The heart directs us as to whether we move with caution or readiness in a given situation. Sometimes grief can be so raw that our hearts sound the alarm and we are not to move to invest ourselves at all for a time. The heart is our guide and it is a reservoir for our love, strength, and courage. Because grief depletes energy and momentum, there are times when it is valuable to sit and surrender to sadness in order to be filled again with hope. Giving what we do not have within ourselves is futile. Being kind to ourselves and mindful of a season of acute grief is an act that actually aids in replenishing energy and potential. Do not berate yourself for not being able to participate in certain days as you once did. Do not let others berate you either nor coax you into something for which your heart is not ready. Grief is personal. Listen to your heart.

No one—no one—knows you better than Jesus does. Trust the Lord to be with you and to direct your needs at this time. By the presence of the Holy Spirit, He will guide, help, and comfort you. Let Him. When you do, you will come to find that although life will not be as it was before, it will still have meaning and hope. Let Jesus carry you through times of goodbye. Let Jesus be your companion through all days, stages, and places in your life. Jesus understands the human challenges we face. He is the One who gave His life in the interest of traveling with us through them all.

Lord Jesus, You know those sad and unwanted places that hearts must navigate through when grief comes into our lives. You promised to be with us—no matter what. In matters that mark the calendar and mark our eyes with tears and longing, be our peace. Help us, Jesus, to settle ourselves in Your care and promises so that we can live with Your supernatural equilibrium. Your love knows no end. Throughout all the endings of our lives, Your love remains our steadiness and the reason for our every beginning. In Thee, Lord Christ, Amen.