Sometimes We Must Remember the Pain
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world . . . Ephesians 2:1-2
I haven’t practiced obstetric medicine for years, but back in residency, I had the opportunity to deliver many babies. Epidural anesthesia wasn’t used much in the population I worked with and so, for many first-time mothers, delivery was traumatic. I remember being impressed at how painful it must be and I remember wondering why any woman would ever want to have another child after going through that. I became convinced that, perhaps due to the joy of having a child, women are blessed with forgetfulness. Maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about, but it seems to me, that for a woman to want to have a second child, she must not really be able to recall the misery of delivering the first one. Sometimes, it’s a blessing to forget the pain.
Other times though, it’s necessary to remember. Those of us who’ve suffered some self-inflicted misery often vow to never go back. We stop the destructive behavior, and we change our ways. Sometime down the road though, after life has returned to normal, we may begin to look back with some fondness. We did those things for a reason. They provided us with some pleasure, relief, or gratification. The memory of the pain we caused fades as we begin to reminisce about the good times. In this corrupt mindset, we can even begin to think that maybe we could go back. I’ll be smarter this time, avoiding the mistakes and consequences.
In this state of mind, we must be reminded of the misery, and we must remember the pain of the past. This seems to be Paul’s tone in today’s passage. In it, he reminded the Ephesians of what they once were. He told them that they were once dead in their sin. Like everyone, they followed themselves and turned from God. In this condition, they were lost until they met Christ, finding forgiveness and life. To go back to the old ways would be to return to death and destruction.
There are those who continue to drown in the failures of the past. Often, they need to be reminded that they are forgiven and free. Many of us though, need to carry a little memory of the pain of the past. We don’t need to wallow in guilt and shame, but when we look back at the supposed good times, we must be reminded of the utter disaster we caused. We were once dead in our sins but now we’ve been given a new life in Christ. Why would we ever want to go back?