Question from a reader:
I am a Christian living in past darkness I cannot shake because of an abortion thirty years ago. I was devastated and just blacked it all out. When I sleep, I have had three decades of nightmares that I secretly murdered someone all to wake up and realize it was the abortion…on my conscience.
In your honest opinion, is this something I can be forgiven for? I totally understand the cost of the cross and in my head I understand Jesus died to forgive, but I cannot get past the uncertainty of such an awful choice and deed. I was hoping for your (Randy’s) honest perspective. Yes, I ask all the time for forgiveness. God knows my suffering on this. Is there anything left I can do?
Answer from Stephanie Anderson, EPM staff:
I’m responding on Randy’s behalf. My heart went out to you as I read your message, and when you asked, “Is this something I can be forgiven for?” I thought, yes, yes, yes! Yes, you can be and are forgiven, if you have accepted Christ’s work on your behalf. That is the good news of the gospel of Jesus!
Randy writes, “You may think, ‘But I don’t deserve forgiveness after all I’ve done.’ That’s exactly right. None of us deserves forgiveness. If we deserved it, we wouldn’t need it. That’s the point of grace.”
I think of the Apostle Paul, one of the great heroes of the early church. Here was a man who had presided over the murder of Christians, and yet God made him a trophy of His grace. Paul writes, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:15-16). The thought of this makes him break into a burst of praise: “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (v. 18).
Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” A dear friend of mine wrote, “It doesn’t say ‘very little’ or ‘not much at all’ but it says NO condemnation.”
It sounds like you have accepted Jesus and know the gospel, but we all need gospel reminders. I would encourage you to read through Randy’s article and let the truths of God’s forgiveness soak into your heart.
The enemy knows exactly what buttons to push in our lives to keep us, as you said, living in past darkness, and doubting God’s forgiveness and love. He wants to derail us from experiencing all that God has for us. He’s remarkably good at this, but the wonderful news is that “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Randy’s former assistant, a wise and godly woman I have learned so much from, wrote this to someone struggling with guilt and feeling stuck: “If God doesn’t condemn you, then why do you think you have the right and power to condemn yourself?"
She goes on to quote Psalm 103:10-12: “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
She then writes, “How far is the east from the west? Far enough that you can’t find them! …Satan loves to keep you stuck. He doesn’t want you free from guilt, because then God could use you for kingdom purposes.”
At the end of his article on finding forgiveness after abortion, Randy writes this: “A healthy step you can take is to reach out to women experiencing unwelcome pregnancies. God can eventually use your experience to equip you to help others and to share with them God’s love. My wife and I have a number of good friends who’ve had abortions. Through their caring prolife efforts they’ve given to other women the help they wish someone had given them. Telling their stories has not only saved children’s lives, and mothers from the pain of abortion, but has helped bring healing to them. It can do the same for you.”
Here are a few more suggestions.
See Randy’s article “What If You Struggle to Forgive Yourself for a Past Sin?”
I listened to this podcast episode a few months ago and was touched by Victoria’s story. I encourage you to listen. She says, “I want women everywhere to know that God forgives everything, even abortion.”
Here is a link to Option Line’s information on support and healing from abortion. You might consider reaching out to them—at the end of that article they offer several options to get in touch.
Finally, I would encourage you to consider finding a Christian counselor to help you work through this and the nightmares you are experiencing. I’m a big believer in good counseling and mental health help—it has certainly helped me so much and many others I know as well.
Here are some options for finding help:
Focus on the Family: Counseling Consultation and Referrals – “The consultation is available at no cost to you due to generous donor support and will be with one of our licensed or pastoral counseling specialists.”
God bless you. I’m praying you would truly know and experience His grace and forgiveness, and that your heart and mind would find true rest in Him. “I waited patiently for the Lord, and he turned to me and heard my cry for help. He brought me up from a desolate pit, out of the muddy clay, and set my feet on a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and they will trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:1-3, CSB).