Elusive Happiness – Persistent Regret

His head was bowed low as he sat in the pew on Sunday morning. He reflected on life. Sorrow and regret brought a tear to his eye. Consumed with sadness, he wondered, “Where is this Christian joy that everyone talks about?” He anxiously pondered the thought, “Has Jesus really set me free from my sins?”  Please read more.

In the quiet corners of our minds, there exists a chamber where memories of our transgressions reside. We recall the moments when we strayed from the path of virtue, when our choices bore the weight of consequence. Regret, our relentless companion, whispers to us in the dead of night, reminding us of our fallibility.

We cannot turn back the calendar. The wonder of each passing sunrise and sunset fuse together into the monotony of time. Minutes gave way to hours, hours to days, and days to years.  Before we knew it, there were more years in our rearview mirror than ones still ahead. These bygone years are often filled with deep regrets. The eventuality of death and judgement can fill us with fear.

The combined weight of regret, shame, and guilt acts like an anchor, dragging us down. We replay our mistakes like a broken record, analyzing every note, every missed beat. We search for the delete button to erase those moments when our judgment faltered.

Weighed down by unrelenting regret, the mercy of Jesus becomes a mere theological construct stuck in our head that has failed to travel the long distance to our heart. We know that Jesus paid the price for our sins on Good Friday, but saddled with regret, we often fail to find the joy of His Easter resurrection. Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Our past sins are as varied as the colors of autumn leaves, each has left its mark upon our souls. However, no amount of regret can save us. Our good works cannot save us. Acts 4:12 makes clear, that salvation is found in no one, and nowhere, other than Jesus Christ. Titus 3:5 tells us we are saved, not because of any righteous deeds we have done but rather by the mercy of Jesus Christ!

The human condition with its propensity to sin can take a toll on us. Despite hearing and reading the words of John 3:17 a thousand times, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him,” we fail to feel forgiven.  Notwithstanding our memorization of Psalm 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our sins from us,” our past sins still haunt us.

Regret can be debilitating. We see this with Judas in Matthew 27:3-5. After betraying Jesus, Judas had regret. He admitted his mistake, he returned the thirty pieces of silver, but he was unable to turn to Jesus for forgiveness. Instead, in a moment of despair, he went off and hung himself.

There should be no doubt that Christ has pardoned our sins. That said, the wounds caused by those sins remain. Sins leave scars long after they have been forgiven. Perhaps the scars of our sins will stay with us into eternity, just like the scars remained on Jesus after His resurrection. Can these scars, with their corresponding regret, have value? Can the sorrow of past sins be beneficial? Can we learn to embrace our regrets as teachers, rather than tormentors.

Like Judas, Peter also betrayed Jesus. Both of these men regretted their mistakes. Matthew 26:75 states, “He went out and began to weep bitterly.” Unlike Judas, Peter never gave in to despair. Instead, he repented and repeatedly told Jesus he loved Him (John 21:15-19). The difference between Judas’ regret and Peter’s regret is summed up in 2 Corinthians 7:10 which states, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”

We can learn a great deal about how to handle sorrow and regret from the story in Numbers 21:4-9. After the people had sinned by complaining against the Lord, they prayed to Moses to save them from the poisonous serpents. The Lord said to Moses: “Make a seraph and mount it on a pole, and everyone who has been bitten will look at it and recover.”

You see, God gave us an important lesson about facing our fears and regrets long before modern psychology discovered it. He taught us to look our fears in the eye. By looking upon the serpent hung on a pole, those who had been bitten were saved. Those sins that we deeply regret have also been hung on a pole. Jesus bore the messiness of humanity when He was nailed to the cross. He took upon himself our sins, our shame, our pain, our embarrassment, and our regrets. Beaten, mocked, stripped naked, and hung on a cross, Jesus endured excruciating pain, pain to the point of death, so that we did not have to endure these things.

In His anguish, Jesus taught us one final important lesson. He looked up! In what seemed like a final moment of despair, after taking wine from a sprig of hyssop He said, “It is finished.” Bowing his head, not in despair, but in the fulfillment of His Father’s will, Jesus died, And when He died, He took our sins away!

Like the Jews in the desert who looked upon the bronze serpent to be saved, we must now look up to the cross and let go of our regrets! Jesus tells us in John 12:32, “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” After confessing our sins, we can have the certainty, through faith, that our sins no longer exist in the eyes of God. God forgives our sins and forgets them, wiping them away with His divine mercy. His mercy and forgiveness lead to a jubilee of the heart. If we trust and believe in His forgiveness, we can finally experience a profound joy that only God can give.

Now, during Holy Week, we have the opportunity to allow our regrets to have a purgative and purifying effect on us. Christian growth is not found in erasing the past but in learning from it. Learning to forgive ourselves is not an easy task. It requires compassion, acceptance of God’s mercy, and the courage to hand our burdens and sorrows over to the Lord. The transformation of regret to joy only comes about when we truly trust in the redemptive power of Jesus Christ.

Heavenly Father, I know in my head that Jesus bore the weight of the guilt and shame caused by my sins when He died on the cross. Help me to move this knowledge from my head to my heart. Grant me the ability to accept His forgiveness, and the trust to believe that through my faith in your Son, I will be saved. Amen!


As always, I love to hear from you. You can email me by clicking here.

Please take a moment to share your thoughts about today’s message below.

Brian Pusateri
Latest posts by Brian Pusateri (see all)


  1. Lee on March 26, 2024 at 4:29 pm

    Are you sure one of your Protestant friends didn’t write this week’s letter? Love you, buddy. Great message! Now, if we can just get Bob to buy lunch…

    • Brian Pusateri on March 26, 2024 at 5:22 pm

      Thanks for your post. You and the church you pastor have always been great supporters of this ministry. Although I am Catholic, it has always been my goal, as you know, to write about things all of us Christians share in common. Regret can be a universal struggle. Thanks for your support!


  2. Paul on March 26, 2024 at 12:43 pm

    What a powerful Tuesday letter Brian. I think Joy happens in the soul of a person when the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of our heart to really see the Glory of the God and all the grace that Jesus gave us in our lives. We feel great graititude comforted by His everlasting arms. Of course when the suffering and hardship then comes, I pray that I can rejoice even in the suffering but in all honesty I don’t always get there. Of course it’s by His grace that I can hope to do any of this.

  3. Ernest N. Martello on March 26, 2024 at 11:45 am

    This is a fantastic letter, Brian. Thank you!

  4. Jean on March 26, 2024 at 11:20 am

    Thank you for this – I have been stuck in the past, and unforgiving of myself.
    I have confessed my sins but still and believe that God as forgiven me, but have
    a hard time to forgive myself.

    • Brian Pusateri on March 26, 2024 at 12:27 pm


      Sometimes accepting God’s forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do. It requires radical trust. His mercy excedes our biggest sins. May you find joy in Easter!


  5. Jim Nolan on March 26, 2024 at 8:54 am

    What a powerful message! I have searched for that erase button many times. Thanks for your guidance. May you have a blessed Easter. Jim

    • Brian Pusateri on March 26, 2024 at 10:42 am


      We have all searched for it. It does not exist. Therefore we NEED JESUS!

  6. Dave Fechtman on March 26, 2024 at 8:16 am

    Great message today, Brian. Happy Easter, my friend!

  7. Dave on March 26, 2024 at 7:10 am

    These words are so true.

    Joy is received thru true regret and forgiveness from Jesus.

    I have experienced this joy in my heart many times. And when I fall to sin, I go to The Lord
    with a contrite heart to have my sins washed away. It’s the most joyful experience I have had.
    If Jesus didn’t “finish” God’s plan, this joy would not be possible for me to receive.

    The overwhelming reality of this may be hard to believe. But witnessing this in my personal lifetime many times gives me no choice but to believe in my Savior. If I wasn’t a sinner, I wouldn’t need a Savior.

    May we all find this Savior this Easter season.

    • Brian Pusateri on March 26, 2024 at 7:33 am


      What a beautiful testimony. Thank you for your open, honest sharing.


Leave a Comment