Many things are staples of life; cornerstones of subjective human experience. From hunger to the search for existential fulfilment, human beings often have more in common than we would assume. And if high school (and dare I say university?) taught us anything, perhaps it's that regret is the key player in it all.
If you have followed any of my writing, you will soon find that the concept of regret holds significant airtime. Whether that's the calling card of a guilty soul or an innocent preoccupation is really between my therapist and me.
Nevertheless, regret has the potential to both empower and destroy. Or perhaps it does both. And yet, within the fabric of life, regret appears to be intricately woven into redemption.
Think for a moment. Bring to your mind a specific regret. Maybe last night's pizza. Or party. Or both. Maybe it's something that has been clinging to you for some time: a ruined marriage or job failure. What role do these things play in redemption?
Open your Bible and read the first chapter of Matthew. Yes, it's a genealogy. Please. Don't. Snooze. The last time I read this passage I was struck by verse six in the first chapter. Up until this point, the author has been presenting the records of who fathered whom in the lineage of our Lord Jesus. His typical format is as follows. Man fathered son by woman. Fill in with names and continue. Although, when he reaches the account of King David, sometime else occurs.
"And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah" (Matthew chapter 1 verse 1)
Matthew begins his letter announcing Christ as king, by penning scandal into our Saviour's lineage in bold letters.
"And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah"
For those of you who aren't familiar with the story of King David and Uriah, here is a brief snapshot. David is mighty king of Israel. He is considered a man who chases after God's very heart (Acts chapter 13 verse 22). Then one steamy day, he decides to take a stroll on top of his palace. While he trots about, he sees a beautiful woman bathing and all sorts of desires burst about in him after.
Well, since he is king, he takes her. He impregnates her. Ashamed he inquires about her situation. She is married. He inquires more. Her husband is a soldier in the war. Unable to convince the soldier Uriah to have some "R&R" with his wife, David arranges Uriah's wrongful death in battle.
So here we have it. The most glorious king of Israel, one of the ancestors of the God-man Jesus, is an adulterer and murderer. And through this lineage, God the Father deems it proper to bring about the redemption of the entire world.
What then are the implications? Either there was a lapse in the judgement of God, or God intentionally weaves regrets into the very fabric of his redemption. And here we have it, front and centre in the advertisement for the kingdom of God: David fathers a son by another man's wife. The eventual result of this adultery and murder is the very Son of God.
God uses regret for redemption because it empties us. Regretful life choices put our moral bankruptcy front and centre. Like King David realising his whole being needs to be purged (Psalm 51), our failures bring us to God on our knees. So next time you fail, see it as an opportunity to be upheld by the grace of God which abounds amongst our sin (Romans chapter 5 verse 20) and as a stitch in the fabric of your redemption.
Dan Peterson lives near Chicago, Illinois, USA. He enjoys discovering old books, new places, and good coffees. His dream is to summit a mountain on every continent and have a pet pygmy marmoset.
Dan Peterson's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/dan-peterson.html