I like that statement. It is very powerful. In the speech he mentioned some of the atrocities Japan was involved in during the war, but never came out and apologized for them. Japan has apologized over and over again for their part, which included the ambush of the United States military in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. I don't think this man has to apologize again for the sins of his forebears.
But think about his statement for a minute...
"History is harsh." That is the reality in a fallen and rebellious world. We all have regrets. We all have scars. We all have lingering hurts. Sometimes we expect too much from history. The people who did those horrible things were just like us. We are all (everyone of us reading this) capable of doing the most horrific thing.
"What is done cannot be undone." Sometimes we tend to expect too much from time. It has been said that time heals all wounds. Others have said that time wounds all heels. But it doesn't. Time only moves us further from the event in a chronological pattern. It separates us from the moment. In one sense, the further from the moment we get, the less it controls our lives. At the same time, the further we move from the event, the less we control the event.
The apostle Paul dealt with victories and regrets of the past, and how that impacts one's present and future. Here's what he had to say...
“Everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith. My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.
Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Therefore, all who are mature should think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this also to you. In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained.” (Philippians 3:7-16)
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is transforming. It changes our future, but it does not change what has already happened. History is harsh. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) What is done cannot be undone. The wages of sin is death... but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
Your history is harsh. My history is harsh. We have done horrible things against God and others. But a million apologies cannot erase those things. What is done cannot be undone. So we must trust in Jesus to take our ashes and turn them into beauty. There is no other way to receive life out of death.
Today you can live in your harsh past. You can live in the harsh past someone gave you. You can spend today trying to change what has been. Or you can live today building what will be. Your past is on the paper, but your future is still in the pen.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.