How to Drop the Weight of Past Pain

How to Drop the Weight of Past Pain

Wounds from the past have a way of showing up in our present lives, regardless of the passage of time. But we suppress and hide it, we try to ignore it, we develop tough exteriors to mask it from others’ sight, and often develop elaborate coping mechanisms to co-exist with it. But unless we deal with it, past pain can keep us in a present prison that will prevent us enjoying our promised future!

“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11).

I remember the famous Peanuts cartoon which captures the power of past pain. Charlie Brown is pitching and Lucy is in the outfield. The ball gets popped up to exactly where Lucy is. She gets under it, lines it up, and at the last second it drops at her feet. Defeated, she explains to Charlie Brown, “Sorry I missed that easy fly ball, Manager. I thought I had it, but suddenly I remembered all the others I’ve missed. The past got in my eyes!”

Past pain must be dealt with properly, using the mighty spiritual weapons that destroy strongholds in our lives. If not, past pain can be triggered unexpectedly in our lives, cause damage, and severely hinder us from following the plan and the destiny that God has for each of us.

Esther’s Pain-Filled Past

Esther’s life did not start out well; she experienced much more pain in a few years than many people do their entire lives: 

“In Shushan the citadel there was a certain Jew whose name was Mordecai the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite. Kish had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captives who had been captured with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away. And Mordecai had brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman was lovely and beautiful. When her father and mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter” (Esther 2:5-7).

Esther experienced the loss of both parents, war and enslavement in a foreign land, with a foreign language and culture, even before reaching adulthood. Fortunately, she was adopted by her uncle, Mordecai, and that relationship set her on a destiny path toward the king’s palace. 

You probably know the story of Esther’s turn of fortune. After a national search and beauty contest, Esther was chosen by the king to replace Vashti as Queen of Persia. In a true rags-to-riches Cinderella story, Esther left her pain-filled past behind to enjoy the abundance of palace life. She also became uniquely positioned by her close relationship to the king to intercede on their behalf and save them from impending genocide. 

For Such a Time as This…

“Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14).

Mordecai’s advice must have been life changing for Esther. She needed a new identity to succeed in the palace, especially when it came time to bring about the deliverance of her people from genocide. 

I believe he was, in effect, telling her: Esther, could it be that everything that you have been through has been preparation for this moment in time? Could it be that the pain that should have killed you is being providentially repurposed to work for you instead of against you? Could it be that your life of misfortune is not evidence that God was absent or uncaring or unjust, but rather, because He has chosen you to change history, hell put a target on your back? Could it be that although the pain of your past was preventing you from seeing the reality of God, that the truth is, His fingerprints are all over your life?

The book of Esther is an unusual book in the Bible. Its actual author is unknown. Nowhere does it declare that the Jewish people, who were in captivity in Persia at the time, were the people of God. It doesn’t actually say that Esther or Mordecai were fasting and praying before God. And it never says that God did anything in response. 

This is very unlike the stories about David, where he declared, “the Lord that delivered me from…” And it is unlike the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace, when they declared, “We are not bowing before you oh king, and be it known unto you that the God that we serve is able…” (Daniel 3:18).

The Book of Esther does not specifically give God the credit for the mighty things done in delivering the Jewish people. But even though God is not named, or even mentioned in Esther’s story, the undeniable truth is His fingerprints are all over it.

He is the unseen mastermind manipulating the moving parts. He is the champion chess player, carefully guiding the circumstances in their favor. He is the force that can’t be seen, fighting for His people behind the scenes. He is the one who is guiding the steps of His servants with His sovereign hand. He is the unseen help to those in the story who only appear helpless.

And I believe Mordecai was reminding Esther to drop the weight of her past pain, saying, As you look back on your life, you must recognize that God’s fingerprints have been all over it, and your destiny is about to take shape! 

What are the keys to dropping the weight of past pain? 

See God as Your Author

“…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

When you see God as your “author” it helps you to reframe your past. Reframing is simply taking control of how we perceive what has happened in our past. It is the story you tell yourself; it is the explanation of the events and circumstances that have affected us. We can decide to be a victor, rather than the victim, an overcomer, rather than an injured party, a warrior, rather than the walking wounded. Said another way, if you don’t own your past, your past will own you.

Don’t simply fabricate – look through the lens of faith and choose to see the truth! God is the author of your story! This is what Mordecai was essentially telling Esther to do: remember, you are not in the position that you are in just by accident. 

How else do you explain an orphaned slave girl becoming Queen of the empire? There are just too many hurdles, too many odds to overcome, to be simple coincidence. The existing Queen was removed; a national search of the kingdom was called; she found favor above and beyond hundreds of other girls.

When we make it to the other side and have been “crowned” despite the demonic forces that tried to obstruct and demoralize us – that is the hand of God! It is God who designed you perfectly for your purpose, who is authoring your story and writing you in as a champion, as an overcomer, as more than a conqueror! 

When God moves those who are in your way out of the way, that’s God opening up a door of opportunity, and letting you know that you weren’t forgotten about, overlooked or abandoned. Rather, you’ve been reserved, hidden, and tucked away until it was your time.

Redefine Your Themes

“Every person is composed of a few themes … those themes become the subplots of your life, and they undergird everything you do.” - C.S. Lewis

There are always two themes working in our lives, or two stories vying for pre-eminence in our minds: God’s and the enemy’s. It’s the theme we accept that ultimately determines the story that we experience.

In Esther’s life, the enemy’s theme was, you are an orphan – abandoned, unwanted, unloved. God’s theme was, you are adopted – chosen, pursued and cherished.

The enemy’s theme – you are broken, God’s theme – you are beautiful.

The enemy’s theme – you are a slave, God’s theme – you are royalty. You are an answer, a difference maker, a miracle-worker.

The pain of our past enforces the enemy’s themes in our lives and constructs an inferior identity. Unless we reject the lies, we remain imprisoned to the pain and unfit for our created purpose. In order to get free, we must redefine the themes that “undergird everything we do.” Search for His providence in the midst of the past pain.

When my parents got divorced – one of the most painful moments in my life – God spoke to me and said, “Don’t worry, my son, everything will be alright.” My theme became – God’s voice guides me (John 10:27). 

When my best friend betrayed me and I lost everything, God brought forth a book and songs from the experience that have touched the lives of thousands of people. My theme became – God works all things together for my good (Romans 8:28). 

When the enemy tried to destroy my family, I stood in the gap in intercession and faith, and witnessed a miracle. My theme became – God restores and makes all things new (Job 42:10).

When you begin see God as the author of your life, you can redefine your themes and the pain of the past loses its power!

See God as Your Finisher

Even after many years as Queen of Persia, Esther had never revealed her nationality or her relationship to Mordecai the Jew. One of King Xerxes’ counselors, Haman the Agagite, despised Mordecai because he refused to bow before him and pay tribute. So Haman lied to the king about the Jews and persuaded him to issue an edict to execute all the Jewish captives in the empire.

The date was set to kill the Jews, and Haman had an impaling pole constructed just for his enemy Mordecai. Mordecai sent word to Esther, reminding her that her elevated position came with a price. She must appeal to her husband, the king, for the lives of her people, even though such an act came at great risk. It was unlawful to approach the king without being summoned and she would be risking her own immediate execution.

But God was authoring her story. Esther agreed to the request, called for prayer and fasting, and simply stated… If I die, I die. Esther was declaring that the outcome was not up to her. Indeed, God was not only the author, but also the finisher of her story. 

I have often said that prayer is believing God is not finished, but that God is a finisher. In other words, my current circumstances are not final, my story isn’t over, my pain isn’t the last chapter. God is not finished, so I will pray. And when I pray, the next chapter of God’s plan can unfold! So never get stuck in the pain. Pray for God to finish your story with the outcome He intended. 

Surprise Endings Are God’s Specialty

And as we know, Esther courageously went to the king uninvited. Instead of issuing an order to execute her, He held out the golden scepter to her and invited her to ask for anything she wanted, up to half the kingdom! In a turnaround of epic proportions, she saved Mordecai and her people from destruction, and Haman was executed instead. 

If you see God as your finisher, when you pray, every blessing of God is available to you. His promises are “yes and amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20), and they are more than we could ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).

Don’t get stuck in the weight of past pain. Learn to perceive the Truth: God is not the source of our pain – He is the source of our promises. God is the author of the story, and He’s not finished! He will prepare a table for us in the presence of our enemies and make our cups run over (Psalm 23:5)!

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Olga Strelnikova

Frank SantoraFrank Santora is Lead Pastor of Faith Church, a multi-site church with locations in Connecticut and New York. Pastor Frank hosts a weekly television show, “Destined to Win,” which airs weekly on the Hillsong Channel and TBN. He has authored thirteen books, including the most recent, Modern Day Psalms and Good Good Father. To learn more about Pastor Frank and this ministry, please visit Photo by Michele Roman.