Can God Forgive Even Me?
Many people struggle with this question and this topic came up at bible study one day. Pastor was talking about forgiveness and someone, I’ll call him Steve, raised his hand. When called on he started to say in a shaky voice, “I know God forgives us, but I have trouble believing it. How can a holy, perfect, righteous God forgive someone as sinful as me? I know it’s true because the bible says it is, but I just can’t believe it.”
The Pastor and everyone in class tried to comfort him with their words and explanations. These were some of them:
“Jesus loves you. He died on the cross to pay for your sins.”
“Aww Steve. You’re not that bad. If he forgives us, he’ll forgive you.”
“He forgave the man on the cross. He will surely forgive you too.”
“The bible says he forgives believers, so it must be true.”
“His blood covers all sins.”
“I know. I know,” Steve said, “I know it’s true, but I just can’t believe it.”
The next week, when I got to church, I saw Steve and he was already sitting in a pew. Most people hadn’t gone in yet. I went in and sat next to him. He looked shook up and he started talking about forgiveness again.
“After I leave church,” he said, “I can’t even make it home without getting mad at someone or having a bad thought. I’m such a bad sinner! How can God forgive me?”
I was trying to think of what to say that would get through to him, but I knew I couldn’t. Many Pastors and Christians had tried before. This was something he struggled with and no one seemed to be able to tear that wall down that was in his way.
Frustrated, I gave up on even trying to get through to him and finally did what I should have done a long time ago. I prayed. I prayed several times that day that God would somehow get through to him, so he would truly know God’s peace and forgiveness. By the end of the day, I was confident that God had it under control and I never thought about it again. Until… next Sunday.
I was surprised to find Steve sitting in the pew and he was still worried about forgiveness. I was so confident that God had taken care of it that I didn’t know what to say. Why didn’t God answer my prayer? If only I knew what to say…
Out of nowhere, a name popped into my head. Jill. Jill was Steve’s only child whom he loved more than anything in this world; more than even himself. I knew, without a doubt, that if he had to throw himself in front of a semi to save his little girl, he wouldn’t hesitate and he would never regret doing it, no matter what happened. He would gladly suffer severe injury or give his life to save his daughter.
I looked at Steve. He had his head bowed down. “Steve,” I said, “What about Jill?”
At the mention of her name, he jerked his head up. He looked and sounded angry. “What about Jill?” he asked defensively.
“Is there anything, anything,” I asked, “that she could do that would be so bad, so awful, that you would never forgive her? You would hate her.”
He stared at me, saying nothing, but I could tell he was giving it much thought and running every possible scenario through his mind.
“No,” he finally said, “There’s nothing.”
“Well, Steve,” I said, “God is your father.”
At that point, the sermon was about to start, so he never responded to me. He was very quiet so I never knew if it got through to him or not. All I know is that the next Sunday he wasn’t in the pew. He was out in the narthex laughing and talking to people.
I said a silent prayer of thanks to God because I believe that my words helped him, but they weren’t really my words. I know I wouldn’t have thought of mentioning Jill on my own. God put the idea into my mind. I had prayed to God asking him to help Steve with this struggle. He answered my prayer and used me to do it. Isn’t our God an awesome God? He truly amazes me.
There’s two points that I wanted to make by telling this story. 1). If you need help with anything, pray to God and ask for help. I should have asked for his help on this a long time ago. 2). God’s forgiveness. Yes, God loves and forgives even me and even you. Don’t ever forget that! He loves you! He’s your father.