Have you ever felt guilty? Have you ever come to the conclusion that because of the guilt you feel you could never be accepted by God and will therefore never be able to live a meaningful life?
Trauma comes into a life for a lot of different reasons. Sometimes it is the result of what we have done and often it is the result of what has been done to us. Unfortunately, whether it is the result of our own actions or the actions of someone else, a very common feeling that traumatic events bring is an overwhelming guilt.
We make statements like:
“If I had not made that decision that never would have happened.”
“If I had not involved them, they would still be with us.”
“I know they hurt me, but I must have done something to cause it.”
This overwhelming guilt brings a condemnation that chains us to the past. We cannot move beyond what has happened because we feel like we should be punished. We become defined by an event in the past with no hope of a productive future. Chained to what happened, was lost, or should have been. Whether or not we are really guilty is not important. The feeling of guilt speaks to us so consistently that it becomes our reality.
Today’s reading confronts the “feeling” of guilt with the “truth” of God’s love. The author of this text, the Apostle Paul, was a man who had much for which to be guilty. Before his conversion he was a blasphemer of God, persecutor of Christians and a crusader against the gospel. But then he experienced the love and forgiveness found through Jesus.
Apparently though, this man who wrote much of the New Testament and started churches around the world still felt guilty for his past. He was so overwhelmed by what he had done that he struggled with whether or not God could love him.
And then he wrote Romans chapter 8. This chapter brings great comfort to the one overwhelmed by condemnation because it opens by declaring that there is no condemnation for those in Christ and ends by telling us that nothing can separate us from His love!
When you are overwhelmed by the past and feel chained by the guilt of what happened, embrace the forgiving, never ending love of God.