I have been corresponding with a man who wishes he could believe in God again. He had an awful experience at his lifelong church. The members therein betrayed him (even one of the pastors). He was devastated, wanting to know why God let this happen to him, why He lets His people act that way.
We have discussed going to church for God; not for people, and although we should be able to trust those in our spiritual family, there is no one we can completely trust but God - and even that is hard sometimes.
We are now on the subject of forgiveness. I'm not sure, but I feel like I should share it. Leaving out the personal details, here is one of my recent letters:
I'm sure you have read the bible. In comparison with those who did God's will, how many are there who didn't? Many, many more. Why does He put up with them? He answered that. Love.
Not that He doesn't mind if they hurt others. He does. It's that wants to love them more than he wants to punish them. Because if they let Him love them, they'll automatically start treating poeple better. It takes more time with some people.
There are some things He lets go for the moment because sometimes they would turn even further away otherwise. Like He did with polygamy. The bible says that they were too stiff-necked. He has to deal with people a little at a time.
Like it or not, a lot of people, when they do wrong things, actually think they are doing what's right. Remember the reason Jesus gave on the cross when He asked His Father to forgive those who were crucifying Him? "They don't know what they're doing." They were doing the worst thing, killing the One who made them and gave them everything. He didn't forgive angels because they knew what they were doing and will never repent. There is no saving them.
However, because He is infinite, everything He does is infinite. He cannot but love infinitely. Loving unconconditionally with no limits will make you do things - like come to those who have turned against you so they can crucify you, in the hope that they will repent and be reconciled.
That does not mean that there is no punishment for those who do wrong. But He does ask that you forgive them. Some people don't understand what 'forgiveness' means. It does not mean that they are allowed to get away with wrongdoing. No matter what, sin affects a person. It means that as they can never pay you back (as you know, the people at your church could never make up for your pain. Ever.), it is necessary to forgive them. Because no matter how much they may be punished, it will never, ever get that time back for you. It is unpayable. You will still have had that experience. You can't change it.
The bible talks about that, too. Remember the servant who couldn't pay his debt, so he asked for mercy? He was forgiven his debt.But right after that, he wiped out a man who could not pay him back. When the man who forgave his debt heard about it, he punished that man severely for not showing mercy as he had been shown mercy. Can you pay God back for your sins? Of course not. God can't get back the time He could've had with you or the good you might have done for others. But He knows that you didn't know all the consequences of your actions and that, since we human beings are not completely full of Him (yet), we can't always do what we should. That's the effect of Original Sin.
Let's be honest, isn't what you really want that they recognize what they did wrong and admit it? Once they admit it, you are vindicated publically.
God will not let what happened to you just stay as it is. He'll do something about it. But you've got to let Him. He always gives back to people more than they lost. Remember Job? Of course that doesn't make up for what you lost - nothing can. But He does what He is able to in your life, as you let Him.
I'm not saying that forgiveness is easy. IT'S NOT! I know. I've been through HELL! And they might not repent. But then they can't hurt you anymore. As long as you hold on to it, they're hurting you everyday. You deserve better.