17
Mar
2017
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Forgiveness Fridays: Betrayal, Faith and Forgiving God by Lynda Alsford

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)

Photo: Aaron Burden

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.

 

14 Responses

  1. Chris

    This was a difficult one to read, I’ve never blamed God for things which have gone wrong in my life, I’ve been more aware of him during the difficult times.

    1. For most things in my life that has often been the case, Chris, In fact it is my normal experience. But this dream was so deeply held, and went to the core of who I thought I was as a person, that I sunk in the pain when it didn’t happen. As is so often the way with Father God though, It has worked for my immense good – it has deepened enormously my relationship with Father God.

      I pray you continue to be aware of him even more in the difficult times of your life.

  2. PJ

    Thanks for this post. So many nuggets. The concepts of “faith” and “forgiving God” seem like polar opposites to me. To me, if I believe in God as who He is, faith is my response, though it isn’t always easy. I will be thinking on your post for a while.

    1. I know what you mean PJ. Faith and forgiving God seemed like polar opposites to me too before I went through this myself. I was so shocked to be going through it. I never ever imagined in a million years I would react to a difficult situation like this. However, i have to say that my faith now is so much deeper and richer.

  3. Jane

    Thank you for this… I went through a time recently where I felt I hated God for what He was allowing me to go through. I thought He had left me. Of course He hadn’t and that difficult time has been for good in the end. I feel He understands our mis-understanding of Him through difficult times. I don’t believe He is cross with us about this, He holds onto us while we have our fits, while we rail at Him (and I really DID RAIL AWAY), and even when we believe we have lost faith. After all, this is a real relationship with a real God and we are messy people… But He loves us and Is committed to us through it all 🙂

    1. Absolutely, he does keep hold of us. I knew when I returned to faith that he had never let go = just like that Matt Redmond song called You Never Let Go. I had a picture just before I really lost my faith. It was of me sat in the hand of God and felt strongly I was being told that what I thought didn’t change the fact that I was still in God’s hand. He is indeed a real God and I am very much a messy person!!

      1. Jane

        Thank you for your reply Linda, I just had to add this – when I read your comment I asked God, why didn’t you give me a picture to hold onto right before my darkest time, another more difficult time that I went through in 2010/11 – And He reminded me of an ornament a friend had bought me a month or so before I began the plummet into depression – it was an ornament of a small child leaning into the big hand of God and resting there. I had to share. God is so cool how He does stuff like this. Thank you for taking time to reply, God bless you and Amy, thank YOU too x

  4. Philippa

    Thank you SO much for this, Lynda. As a single, childless woman in my mid-50s, I very much relate!!!! There are a lot of losses we have to face up to, and it can really hurt. I think it’s tough for non-Christian single women too, in somewhat different ways perhaps, but still very tough. But our Christian communities don’t help when they (even unwittingly) promote unhelpful, stifling stereotypes about womanhood.

    I never got angry at God. But I have often shut him out, and now I think that’s probably just as bad, or even worse, than anger. I suspect the Lord prefers our raw anger to our spiritual apathy. At least we’re being honest with him then! I am encouraged by the rawness and honesty of the Psalms, where the writers often really wrestle with God and demand why he doesn’t answer them. At the same time, they also affirm a deep, vigrous faith in him that isn’t afraid to ask those questions.

    Thank you, and God bless you!

    1. It is very hard for those of us who are in our 50s and still childless and single but wish we were not. I did let out some anger to God, but mostly I was asking why before I lost my faith. Had I let out the depth of my anger I may not have lost my faith. I am now quite happy being childless. I have learned to see the good side of it.

      I agree about our Christian communities. I feel they don’t know quite what to do with us. I tried to get help from various Christian communities/ministries but the answers boiled down to telling me to pray harder for a husband and I would be given one – which is simply not true. I was also told frequently to let marriage go as I was idolising it, which may or may not have been true. There was no room or space given to simply pour out my pain until just before I lost my faith when one lady at my church did give me that space. But it was too much pain – I had held it in too long and I lost my faith anyway. What I needed was space to grieve.

      But the good that comes from it is knowing God far better and now being far more secure in his love. I love the Psalms for just those reasons you said.

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