Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ.
A Painful Memory Can be a Blessing
Have you ever had a memory from your past that’s so painful you close your eyes and cringe whenever you think about it? For some, such memories are so powerful that they fill themselves with anything to deaden the hurt: alcohol, pills, pleasure, TV, mindless busyness. Do you have such a memory? Perhaps something from your past is haunting you right now.
If so, sit down for a moment next to the apostle Paul. It seems that Paul grappled with the same thing. In spite of all that the Lord did through Paul’s amazing ministry, Paul still considered himself “the least of all God’s people.” Let’s be clear: Paul did not say this just so he could appear gracious or humble before his readers. Elsewhere in his writings, Paul said the same thing. And he also explained why. You see, through the years Paul had never shaken the searing memories of what he had done before becoming a Christian. For that reason, the reality of his own sinfulness never left his side.
But there was the beauty that because Paul was now forgiven in Christ, even his painful memories were a blessing. Whenever they haunted him, they also served to highlight God’s grace in Paul’s life. It was God’s undeserved love for a sinner like Paul that continually filled him with gratitude and peace. And it was this gratitude and peace that helped inspire Paul to follow his Lord for the rest of his life.
Do you have a memory from your past that can sometimes paralyze you with pain and regret? Join the club. But consider what else that memory does. In Christ, that memory spotlights the Lord’s grace, his undeserved love, in your life. In him, you are forgiven. In him, you possess a peace that no bad memory can ever take away.
Remember that as you begin this new year. And thank your Lord that he can turn even your painful memory into a blessing.
Lord Jesus, forgive me for the times I have allowed painful memories to prevent me from seeing you. Use my painful memories to remind me of your grace in my life. Amen.