Micah 7:18 (New International Version)
Who is a God like you,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.
A man lay crying in his bed at night. He was in deep despair because, through his own sins, he had lost his marriage, family and job. He was carrying on what he thought was a quiet affair with another employee, but was not as private a matter as he perceived. When his wife found out, she left him. When the children heard the news, they lost respect for him, and weren't sure they ever could trust their dad again. Lastly, the man was given his termination of employment papers.
That night, in his hands he sobbed the most heartbreaking tears of anguish and remorse. "Oh God!" he cried out, "What have I done? What have I done?" It was ironic the man had called out to God, since, after all, he was a self-proclaimed atheist. Since he had not seen enough proof of God's existence, he simply went about his life, not giving further thought to the matter.
That night, in his broken and pitiful state, the man called out to God. He didn't know why he felt compelled to cry out, but he simply followed what seemed to be the right thing to do. "Please forgive me, God," he whimpered in humility. "I have been so selfish; only thinking of my own needs, and not concerned with how my actions could affect others. In fact, what I thought was a need, turned out to be simple lust. The lady I was sneaking around with just seemed so pretty, and I enjoyed the attention she gave me. I guess I was just flattering my own ego, and feeding my own selfish desires. Can you ever forgive me, God? Can you ever?"
The man was desperate to repair the damage he had done, but he didn't know if it was possible. Once his tears has dried, he spoke to God again, "I have acted despicably, and I want to be a better man. I don't want to be selfish and uncaring anymore. I want my wife back. I need my children in my life. I love them so much! Please God, help me! Please forgive my past sins, and help me be that better man."
Seven years after the above scene, this same man sat in a cafe talking to the pastor of his church. "You know, Pastor," he said, "It wasn't easy to repair all the damage I caused, and it was most definitely an uphill struggle, but God was merciful, and thankfully, so were my wife and children. It took us a long time and many small steps to get where we are today, and the broken trust and pain did not disappear overnight, but I can only thank God that we are a family again. If I didn't believe God was real and had the ability to show mercy, I don't know if I would be here today. He has been so good to me when He didn't have to be. I spit on God and turned my back on Him so many times in the past, and yet, when I cried out to Him, He still came to my rescue and showed me mercy and love."
"Pastor," he continued, "It is my honor and joy to be able to share my story with the rest of the congregation this Sunday. I don't want anyone else to ever endure what I went through. I want all people to know that God IS real, and DOES forgive when we genuinely hunger for a better way."
The pastor smiled and nodded his head, and the two finished their lunch; the afternoon sun shining upon them both.
Dear Lord we thank You for being a God of forgiving and restoring. We pray that we would not put ourselves in the position to fail. In Jesus’ name, Amen.