Reading time: 3 minutes
Focusing on your past can help you trust God with your future. Many people discount the past. They say things like:
- “It’s already done.”
- “I can’t change the past.”
- “Dwelling on the past is a waste of time.”
Faith is normally thought of as forward-looking. Faith involves trusting during times of uncertainty. Do you know what is going to happen next in your life? The future might be more uncertain than the past, but the past can also instill doubt. Therefore, the past is as much alive as the future but in its own way.
Faith is Required for The Future
The future is mostly hidden and unknown. Even though the Bible is clear about the ultimate future of all believers (in heaven), no one knows for sure when that will happen. Only God fully knows the past and the future because only He is in complete control.
Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.Isaiah 46:9-10 NLT
These verses address the past (remember it), the future (God knows it), and sovereignty (God can do whatever He wants). These two verses, then, are sufficient reasons to trust God, or at least to fear Him. So, we have no choice really. We must trust God with the future. But what about the past?
Faith is Required for the Past
If the past is a done deal, why would trust be necessary at all? Consider this: Which has more influence over your present behavior, the past or the future?
The past provides much stronger clues about your identity, the identity of the world, and even God. The past is alive because you are alive. You can remember experiences, draw from their reality, and make decisions in the present. If you have been through an overwhelmingly (or any) negative (or positive) event, it is still likely influencing your understanding of the world and ultimately your behavior.
One can make an argument that we also need to trust God with the past. Experience can remain as unreconciled mysteries. You can be certain that an event has taken place, but what about the meaning of the event? Can you be certain you understand historical events?
The past is fully visible and fully known to you, but does it make any sense? It certainly raises many challenging questions such as:
- Why did such and such happen? What is the purpose of it?
- Why does God allow so many bad things to happen?
- What can I learn from it? How is it relevant to me?
Your Testimony is Your Past
How has God been working in your life? What is He doing? What has He brought you through? When you can look back and feel confidence rather than doubt, something powerful has happened.
These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.1 Peter 1:7 NLT
God wants you to focus on the past, so you can remember who He is. This can fuel your faith in Him, allowing you to make faithful decisions in the present. The future might remain elusive, but based on your experiences you can let God worry about the future.
The longer you have lived, the more past you will have to go on, and the less future to worry about. That’s not to say anyone should wish they were older, but to enjoy the present because we are making memories today that will benefit us later.
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. Matt and Georgette have been married since 1999 and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.