Rediscovering Redemption

Chronicling the work of Redemption in the lives of Followers and Leaders. Articles, research and meditations from the writings of Dr. Joseph J. Bucci. Get blog updates by following Joe on Twitter @Re_Redemption

Joseph J. Bucci

Regrets or Rejoice?

Frank Sinatra famously sang, “Regrets I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention.” I wonder if he felt this way in real life? If we were to ask most people, the perception of missed opportunities, tragic misunderstandings and deflated hopes would jut out of their thinking like the weeds I am fighting off from every corner of my yard. There are times that I see things that happen in other people’s lives, and I am reminded of something through which my wife and I have walked, and so it is easier to step back and observe, and coach and encourage if asked. This tends to happen with your kids, because as parents you have seen some of the same events occur, and you have an idea how they will play out. Of course, as a kid you think your parents don’t know that of which they speak, and you are pretty sure it will turn out differently. Why does this foolishness not skip a generation once in a while? But many time I will view things from up-close and lose the perspective which age and experience can provide: is this a deal-breaking moment? Will this lost opportunity turn out to be a blessing later on? Can it really happen like that?

King David, Isaiah the prophet, Jesus and Paul all spoke about rejoicing in difficulties, which certainly causes people to take notice, since most messages on lost opportunities seem to encourage retribution or self-protection.

David, in the midst of fighting against enemies near and far, after earnest cries for help and frustrations over being let down by those around him said things like this: “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy. For you bless the godly, O LORD; you surround them with your shield of love” (Psalm 5:11-12 NLT).

Isaiah encouraged Israel to hop that God would be faithful, even after their own sin led to defeat and surrender. Isaiah was able to look ahead prophetically and says, “Sing for joy, O heavens! Rejoice, O earth! Burst into song, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted his people, and will have compassion on them in their suffering” (Isaiah 49:13 NLT). The Lord had not forgotten them, as the next verse suggests rhetorically. No, God had a plan in the midst of the chaos, and God saw redemption in the crucible of failure.

The prophet Zephaniah wrote: “For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs” (Zeph 3:17 NLT). According to one source (bible.org) the title of Zephaniah’s book in the Hebrew meant “Yahweh hides.” How about that? Zephaniah’s name meant, “Watchman for the Lord” and he prophesied to encourage the people of Israel in the midst of a time of idolatry and strife that God had not abandoned them, but that the Lord Almighty was there in their midst – how cool is that?

Of course we know that in the midst of a prison-setting (under house arrest, chained to a Roman soldier 24/7) the Apostle Paul wrote these things to the church in Philippi: “But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy” (2:17). Also this: “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (4:4-7, NLT).

And finally, this is what Jesus told us: “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble” (Matthew 5:11-12 MSG).

In this case, the persecution was for living for Christ so completely that the reflection of this kind of life caused people to mock and criticize and discredit the believers. So in the midst of this Jesus encouraged them to “give a cheer!” Could it be that in light of missed opportunities, tragic misunderstandings and deflated hopes, we should instead rejoice, and press in closer to God with a little reckless abandon? For this we could truly rejoice, and not live with regret, knowing that God is at work still in our lives (Philippians 2:12-13), that He has not left us or abandoned us (Hebrews 13:5 and Zephaniah above). He has the broader perspective that we are missing, and He goes with us, and will not fail us (Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT).

One last thing – reread Psalm 23. God has provided, God will lead, and God will bless our efforts as we depend on Him. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” (verse 6). The hard times do not need to be regrets. We cannot see it now, but these times can lead to goodness and mercy as God works out His perfect plan in us and though us. It may only be after the fact that we see some of it, but if this is a verse of promise from God, then let us not regret – but rejoice over the goodness and mercy to come as He walks us through this life. I hope that puts a song on your lips – not about regrets, but about God’s goodness!

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Joseph J. Bucci

Biography link below: https://www.regent.edu/faculty/d-b-a-joseph-j-bucci/
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