Regrets might be a result of the continued consequences of those sins. For example, if your negligence left you or other people with enduring struggles, those reminders are persistent and weighty. Yet regrets can never be left unattended. They are evidence that all things have not yet been made fully new, though they will be. Meanwhile, God forgives fully from all iniquities (Ps. 130:8), for “with him is plentiful redemption” (Ps. 130:7). He forgives completely because He is the forgiver, not because you are forgivable. He washes you clean; He Himself does not see you according to your sins, but you share in how the Father sees the Son as, by faith, you have been joined to the Son. Also notice how the Apostle Peter writes that spiritual malaise can be a result of forgetting that we have been cleansed from “former sins” (2 Peter 1:9). Regrets from past sins are not to be trifled with. Best to give them fully to God as a way to honor the work of Jesus Christ.
Look, too, for sins done against you, especially by those who were responsible to love you. As a general rule, if you have been treated disgracefully, you believe you are a disgrace, and you are left on high alert for when your disgrace will be fully exposed. Peace cannot abide with such shame. That path toward peace is possible only when shame is met by hope that “those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed” (Ps. 34:5).
Things future. Even without resonant guilt and shame, we all have our fears and anxieties, and these likewise compete against peace. Many of those fears are well founded. A very hard event may, indeed, be at hand. And these fears appear against a backdrop of fears and anxieties that are present no matter what the forecast. In my own life, if I simply turn my attention to my children and grandchildren, I find that there might be a passing moment in which everything seems fine, and then I suddenly remember one trouble, then another; one future danger, then another.
All this is to say two things. First, if you feel burdened and anxious, Jesus’ words of peace are directed to you. Second, peace will encounter more resistance than you might expect.
Now the work continues. We all desire peace, but we don’t all pursue it. We might seek peace as an occasional hobby rather than a need that borders on desperation. So we proceed by remembering that this is a promise of God to us, and we can insist that His Spirit lead us on the path of peace.
What should we expect? We expect to walk on the right path, with Jesus and toward Him. On that path we find the usual suspects. Fears persist, shame and guilt still tangle us in lies, and busyness distracts us from our destination. Yet on that path you hear Jesus say, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19). Those are among His first words. He supports those with many evidences and promises, and He gives us His Spirit so that we can pursue those promises. To stay on the path, we must keep following words that sound almost too good to be true.