Today’s post by Lynda Alsford tackles an important, but often ignored, subject – how we forgive God. That is, how can we let God off the hook? Sound heretical? Read on.
You may think I’m being heretical even to talk about forgiving God, so let me say I’m totally convinced that God is completely without sin. He doesn’t need forgiving in the true sense of the word. Rather this relates to my perception of what has happened in my life. I’m talking about those times when we don’t understand why God has allowed something desperately painful to happen in our lives. We may blame him for it, and be intensely angry with him. Although I know in my head that God doesn’t sin, in my heart I thought he had done wrong by me.
As I grew up, all I wanted to do was get married and have children. In my twenties and thirties this became what I thought was a desperate need. However, many of my friends had weddings and became parents but I never did. The older I got the harder it was that I was single and childless.
By 2009 I was in my mid-forties and working as a successful Church Army evangelist at a Church in West London. But the pain of unwanted singleness and childlessness was indescribable. It was a knife going through me, a knife that was twisted every time I saw young women with their babies in Church. I couldn’t connect the intense pain I felt with a God of Love. Eventually it caused me to doubt the existence of God. It was easier than dealing with a God who had apparently betrayed me.
Being unable to deal with being an evangelist who no longer believed in God, I left the Christian ministry I enjoyed so much. I thought I was an atheist but I didn’t count on missing the God in whom I no longer believed. Eventually, after much searching and study, I came to a vital realisation. Faith is a choice. I would never be able to prove God. I would never be able to figure him out completely. I simply had to accept that God is there and he knows best even though I can’t understand it. I made a prayer of recommitment and felt immense peace. I realise now my faith has been through the fire described in 1 Peter 1:7:
These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. (NLT)
I know now that my faith is far more valuable than pure gold. It is the most precious thing in my life. Faith is what God is looking for. We are told in Genesis 15:6, “And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.” (NLT) Likewise Jesus says in John 6:29,“The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (NIV)
If we could understand everything now we would not require faith. Having faith means we may not understand everything but still trust God anyway. It means saying with the writer of Hebrews 11:1, “To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.” (GNB)
Acceptance of never having children didn’t come overnight. It took a long time, time which was filled with pouring out my pain to God and choosing to praise him as an act of my will. It isn’t an easy journey but it is so worth it. In the words of R.T. Kendall in his book Totally Forgiving God,
Totally forgiving God means setting him free, letting him off the hook and affirming him – even though he let some horrible things happen to you.
As an act of my will I let God off the hook. I went from feeling totally betrayed by him to accepting that he knows best. ‘Forgiving’ God has brought me through to a far deeper faith and consequently more peace.
My prayer is that you will be able to let God off the hook and affirm him despite any of the suffering you may have been through.
Lynda Alsford is a sea-loving, cat-loving GP administrator, who writes in her spare time. She has written two books: He Never Let Go describes her journey through a major crisis of faith whilst working as an evangelist at a lively Church in Chiswick, West London. Being Known describes how God set her free from food addiction. Both books are available in paperback and on kindle on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. She writes a newsletter, Seeking the Healer, and is starting a new blog in the coming months. In both she shares the spiritual insights she has gained on her journey. The newsletter (and her blog in time) is found at her website www.lyndaalsford.com.