And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.”
Jacob had seen quite a bit in his 130 years of life, and calling those years “evil” was not an exaggeration. By this point in his life, he had:
- Deceived his own father.
- Received a death threat from his brother.
- Fled his home to save his life.
- Spent two decades working for a deceitful uncle.
- Destabilized his family by playing favorites among his wives and children.
- Grieved the death of his favorite child (not knowing he hadn’t actually died).
- Feared the loss of his second favorite child.
God can and will forgive us our sins after our genuine repentance, but that doesn’t mean the consequences of our past actions simply disappear. It’s true that God had spent decades helping Jacob refine his character, but a lifetime of poor decisions resulted in a bitter harvest of “evil years” for Jacob.
The regret Jacob experienced in reviewing his life isn’t what God wants for any of His children. He gives us laws and commandments to follow for our own good (Deuteronomy 10:13). When we stray from His boundaries, we expose ourselves to the kind of bad decisions that filled Jacob’s life with so much regret.
It’s never too late to make the choice to repent and step back inside the safety of God’s law. It won’t erase the natural consequences of our past actions, but it will protect us from causing further damage to ourselves and others in the future. When we do things God’s way, there’s no need for looking back in regret.
Moving forward can be hard if we can’t stop looking back. Read our article “Forgiving Yourself” for advice on repenting, overcoming and letting go of the past.
Tomorrow on the Daily Bible Verse Blog: “A Hungry Nation Meets a Good Steward.”