Sometimes, after experiencing sorrow involved in sincere and complete repentance, feelings of guilt and regret remain. And regardless of the conscious belief that God has forgiven, and put all as far away from Him as East is from West (Psalm 103:10-12), somehow it has not been put that far away from our hearts. The sorrow of true repentance remains - and it still hurts.
We must realize first of all, that the hurting is good. Not good in itself, but good in the sense that it has accomplished and is accomplishing the purpose for which Jesus has been allowing it. Nothing in our lives, including our experiences of repentance are without eternal purposes, if we belong to Him. He is ever caring, ever aware and solicitous of our good. We may look upon how we feel as similar to a bodily injury or infection that must have a painful medicine or other procedure applied before healing will come. However, understanding the reason why does not always eliminate the pain in our hearts. Although we trust Him, we must also trust in the midst of the painful aftermath of what was for our eternal good.
Here, knowledge does not necessarily overcome present experience. Along with this total experience can come doubt. Doubt about how God really feels about us, what we did that brought about our need for the pain, and most importantly how He REALLY sees us now. In spite of all positive evidence and biblical assertions and guarantees to the contrary, we cannot feel right - right within, and right with Him. If others have been involved, perhaps they have not forgiven or been forgiven. Then the sorrow and sadness is compounded (2 Corinthians 2:7-11).
Somehow, we just cannot find peace.
The first pragmatic advice that is sometimes offered is, "don't go by your feelings." This can be tantamount to saying to a wound soldier, "don't bleed". Besides, a mental affirmation is hardly effective in dealing with issues of the heart. Knowing from our heart is knowing at a deeper level than our minds. And this is an issue of the heart. With the heart, we believe Jesus died for us, and believe unto salvation (Romans 1:18). Although difficult to see during this time our guilt and regret has also been nailed to His cross. His forgiveness which is God's gift to us, He has placed in our hearts, and we know this just because of one thing: God says so.
We also should ask ourselves if we have forgiven someone else - really forgiven, from our heart (Matthew 18:21-22l 34-35). If we have not fully forgiven, it will be difficult to feel that we have been forgiven by God. Even after we are sure that we have forgiven others, these nagging feelings of regret and guilt are sometimes allowed - by God - to remain. But only for a little while. They are part of our memory base, which has collected everything that has ever happened to us since we were born - and perhaps even before, if medical science is correct. There is a purpose for all of this, a special purpose for allowing some of the aftermath of genuine repentance to remain. These feelings are a kind of residue or fallout resulting from genuine sorrowing unto repentance. Sometimes, it can be a kind of exclamation mark after experience of repentance. Jesus wants us to remember some things; things indigenous only to the issues involved in our repentance, and our relationship to Him. So many times those who have experienced this have exclaimed that “no one can understand how I feel”.
This is true. But not true with Jesus. Every one of us, has a unique relationship with Him - different from all others - known only between each of us and Him. Since all of God's children are different, each relationship with God will be different. Not different in quality, but...just different. Because all circumstances are different. This utter uniqueness and at the same time alikeness was expressed some years ago by a TV commercial: "No one else in the whole human race, has your kind of style and your kind of grace”. An adequate commentary on the uniqueness of each of us. Talk to Jesus about it. Ask Him why, if you wish. He will never be offended, or angry with you over these things! How can He be? You are clean again through His blood. He will hear your request. Sooner or later, the lingering feelings will be removed.
Until that wonderful time, be sure you are forgiving others (Matthew 5:12), and walk in humble submission. “It will not rain always...the sun will come shining through”. The clouds will disappear. The feelings of assurance and peace will soon follow the fact - and finally be replaced with the comfort of the forgiveness you already have, but have not yet known. Your heart will finally confirm the reality...
You are forgiven.
“Little children let us not love [merely] in theory or in speech but in deed and in truth (in practice and in sincerity). By this we shall come to know (perceive, recognize, and understand) that we are of the Truth, and can reassure (quiet, conciliate, and pacify) our hearts in His presence, whenever our hearts in [tormenting] self-accusation make us feel guilty and condemn us. [For]we are in God's hands.] For He is above and greater than our consciences (our hearts), and He knows (perceives and understands) everything [nothing is hidden from Him]. And, beloved, if our consciences (our hearts) do not accuse us [if they do not make us feel guilty and condemn us], we have confidence (complete assurance and boldness) before God, And we receive from Him whatever we ask, because we [watchfully] obey His orders [observe His suggestions and injunctions, follow His plan for us] and habitually] practice what is pleasing to Him.” - 1 John 3:19-22