Outside of Forgiveness?

Have you ever done anything that has caused you immense shame and guilt?

This happened to me my senior year of college. I was experiencing suicidal ideation and my desire to live was low; the pain I was feeling was building to a point that I did not know how to handle it. I was dating my now wife, I had good grades, I had (and still have) a loving family, but to no one’s fault I felt as if I could not escape this darkness. No matter what anyone said, no matter what distraction I put in front of me, the pain kept coming back.

I began to question God.

How can He be good? How can He love me and let me feel like this? What did I do to deserve this?

I was so sick of the pain and unsure if God was good that I wondered if the devil is even that bad? I knew that Satan and the world could offer things that would bring me pleasure, but then the Holy Spirit that God placed inside of me reminded me that only God is good.

Even so, the fact that I asked the question brought on guilt, shame, and doubt. I felt distant from God and unable to be saved by His grace and mercy. In search of help, I went to my pastor at my church back home and he shared with me this passage of Scripture:

I give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord who has strengthened me, because he considered me faithful, appointing me to the ministry—even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an arrogant man. But I received mercy because I acted out of ignorance in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them. But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate his extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
– 1Timothy 1:12-17 (HCSB)

If you are holding on to shame and guilt, I encourage you to bring it to God, because no matter what it is, no matter what’s causing it… He will forgive you.

He told me to replace each “I” in each verse with my name and to read it over and over again until I believed it.

So that is what I did, and it worked. God showed me all over again that His grace, His love, and His mercy are unfailing and never ending.

If you are holding on to shame and guilt, I encourage you to bring it to God, because no matter what it is, no matter what’s causing it… He will forgive you.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
– 1 John 1:9 (HCSB)

If that guilt, shame, and doubt still linger for you, as it did for me, do the same exercise and substitute each “I” you see in 1 Timothy 1:12-17 with your name and read it over and over again until you believe it for yourself — until you believe that you are forgiven.

Author: Ian Young, Middle School Director
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