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God Is Not Punishing You for Your Past Sins


The other day I was mindlessly scrolling my Facebook feed when a headline caught my eye: “Toni Braxton Once Believed God Gave Her Son Autism Because Of Her Past Abortion.” My heart clenched as I read that—not only because of Toni’s pain and shame, but because of my own.

As a fifteen-year-old young woman I found myself pregnant. Overwhelmed with despair and seeking advice, I went to a Planned Parenthood clinic. The “counselor” looked across the table and focused on my eyes. “You’re young. You have your whole life ahead of you. An abortion is the best choice.”

“But . . . what about the baby?” I’d asked.

“It’s not a baby,” she told me. “Right now it’s just a few cells. The doctor’s just scraping them out.”

I bought into her lie, and I scheduled an abortion, even though deep down I knew it was a baby. I knew if I didn’t intervene I’d be holding a child in my arms in seven months. And that scared me, too.

Later, I was horrified to find out that not only did those “few cells” have a beating heart, but little arms and legs and lips and tiny ears. Knowing that, the shame pressed down even more, and I walked through life feeling numb, unable to face the truth of my decision.

Then I found myself pregnant again at age seventeen. This time I was determined to carry my child. (I found out later that many young women who’ve had an abortion have another baby within a few years. It’s an “atonement child” of sorts.)

It was during this second pregnancy that I turned my life over to God. I prayed, “God, if you can do anything with my life, please do.” God has done amazing things. He gave me a beautiful son, and later brought me a wonderful Christian husband. Everything was going well in my life, but I still was ashamed of my past. Few people knew about my abortion, and I was sure they’d hate me if they found out.

A few years after John and I were married, I found out I was pregnant. I was so excited to have a baby with my husband. Finally, I’m doing things right. Yet a couple of months later I woke up in a pool of blood, and I knew two things:

First, I’d lost my baby.

And second, God was punishing me for my abortion.

Looking back, my heart aches for the young me, a woman who still didn’t understand God’s complete forgiveness. I saw God as a stern judge who was weighing all my deeds and found me wanting.

For years I felt my abortion was too much for God to forgive. I had a hard time forgiving myself. It was only when I attended a Bible study and worked through the book Forgiven and Set Free that I realized Jesus’ death covered all my sins. Who was I to say my sin was greater than His sacrifice?

The freedom I’m walking in today comes from understanding who God is. My sin was horrible, yes. I’ll always regret not having that child, discovering who he or she is and spending this life together.

Yet, I’m thankful for the eternity to come. I’m thankful that in God’s eyes I stand clean before Him, as white as snow. God is not a God who punishes us for our sin. There are natural consequences for our sins—pain and shame and regret were some of the consequences I faced—yet God offers forgiveness and grace. These are not dependent on who we are but on who He is.

As Romans 8:1-2 says, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”

Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you are carrying around the pain and shame from past sin. And maybe you’re thinking God is punishing you for mistakes in your past. If so, then do two things.

  1. In your mind’s eye, go back to that moment of your sin. See your sin, and then look to your right hand. Picture Jesus standing there. There’s isn’t a look of anger in his gaze, but one of compassion. He is there waiting for you to turn to Him and find Him so you’ll have real, abundant life. He’s been there all along, and He’s waiting for you to give Him your whole heart.
  2. Picture Jesus on the cross. See Him there. Know His sacrifice is enough. Pray and thank Him for that.

My prayer for you today, friend, is that you will find a freedom in Jesus Christ that you’ve never known before. I pray you will begin to understand the breadth and length and height and depth of God’s love . . . not only for mankind, but also for you. Trust Him in that. Discover that truth for yourself today.

It’s my prayer for Toni Braxton, too. That Jesus will meet her wherever she is, just as He met me.


Tricia Goyer

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  1. What a beautiful post! Thank you so much for opening up your heart to us and for sharing the truth of God’s complete forgiveness through the perfect blood of His precious Son. This truly touched my heart as no matter what our past sins, many times we can get caught in a pit of despair – full of doubt that God would forgive whatever sin has so pained our heart. But like you said, when we truly come to know and trust Christ, we can be assured that His perfect sacrifice is sufficient to cover all our sin. And we can rest in the peace of knowing God loves us so much, His Son paid the ultimate price for us. I can’t help but think of the Apostle Paul who felt he was the “chief of sinners” and it’s easy to understand the burden he must has felt as he realized the enormity of his sin in putting to death Christians, but his life is such an amazing example of how God can transform lives – He can use our lives to bring Him glory no matter what our pasts may have held. Because when we receive Christ we become a new creation in Him. Praise be to God!!

  2. Love this. For years I struggled with feeling that my infertility was a punishment for past sins– since finding freedom and redemption, I’ve found that many women face the same roller coaster of emotions (anger at God for the infertility, and in the same breath feeling that they don’t deserve a baby somehow). Forgiveness, grace, redemption– these are the things of God.

  3. Tricia, I agree that this is a beautiful post. Two things, a question and a statement, really stood out to me: “Who was I to say my sin was greater than His sacrifice?” and “Know His sacrifice is enough.” Those are powerful! It is so easy to let sins — big or small — enslave us, hold us back from what God has for us. Thank you for sharing such freeing thoughts!

  4. So thankful for this today, Tricia! I needed to hear these very words. Thank you for your faithfulness and encouragement in Christ!

    1. I’m so glad that it’s an encouragement to you, Sissy! God is so faithful. There is nothing we can do that will separate us from the love of Christ. Bask in that love!

  5. Thank you for this. And for the tips on what to do. My past sin isn’t abortion, but just as “bad”. It’s funny that I can easily see that you’re forgiven, and I’d tell you that in a second, and believe it. But I can’t seem do the same whenever it’s my own sin.

  6. Wonderful post!! I am a fellow blogger and I recently wrote an article called ‘Punishment for the Crime.’ My crime was not an abortion, but infidelity. I thought God was punishing me by not allowing me to have children. It sure is freeing when we accept God’s grace and the power of His forgiveness and understand that he loves us. I invite you and your readers to come and check our my post. I’ve included a link to my post here: http://www.restoredthroughgrace.com/2013/05/21/punishment-for-the-crime/

  7. i have been suffering from aniexty and depression on and off from the past 2-3yrs now . But recently sinice about March 2014 I’ve been suffering hard this is the longest espiode that I have experience in my life . From reading this has opened my eyes about my past sins . Your excactly right “Who am I to say my sin is great her than Him” I have no right for it I all His . Thank you so much for the bottom of my heart for sharing this !

  8. Thank you for sharing your story. I find it no accident that I am reading this just 3 days after I decided to get baptised. (Its thoughts like these that almost prevented me from doing so.) This is wonderful that you can share your story that is so similar to many of us.! Thank you

  9. I became a Christian three years ago, at 61 years old , was born again , last November, and have learned more about our savior than I could ever imagine.
    I love my church, my life group and new family.
    Thank you Jesus
    Getting back to this story at hand is a beautiful story of God’s plan for each of us ,
    And his endless love and forgiving heart for his family.
    Like the praise says “he’s living on the inside , roaring like a lion”
    Thank you Jesus for your endless grace and love .

  10. I am guilty, ashamed. I can’t imagine Jesus there. I can’t even imagine my boyfriend there, and it was a bad decision on both of our parts.
    But I am forgiven. My boyfriend is forgiven. He and I are closer now than before, and we have turned back to Christ with a renewed purpose to follow his example.
    I am so blessed to be dating a man like JJ. That shameful decision turned him around, and it set me back on the path I should never have left. And we are hopeful for our future. And God has been affirming our decision to maintain a pure relationship from here on out in so many ways.

  11. Thank you so much for writing this post. God has placed issues like this so heavily on my heart. I am currently writing a book that has to do with this subject. To be honest, I don’t know what I’m doing, but I know God will lead me to where I need to be- just as he lead me to this post. Your story was beautiful and SO inspiring. God bless you! <3

  12. Beautiful post! Thank you for opening up your heart and sharing your story. I used to think God was punishing me when “bad” things were happening in my life. Only to find out, He is testing my faith through adversities. When you are going through something in life, remember He has something bigger plan for you. Everything happens for a reason!

    I am currently dealing with a situation and truly believe God’s plan is to bring me back to Him. I am Catholic and finished reading the Divine Mercy of My Soul: Dairy of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska. This book has inspired me to understand that God has a merciful heart and it comes along with a powerful prayer.

    God Bless!

  13. Thank you so much….I believe God has put you in my life to help me realize that my sins are truly forgiven. I had the same situation as you and have struggled with it since and now reading your story has truly helped me. Thank you!

  14. Thank you for this post! I needed to read they today!! You’re an angel in my life! Thank you! Maybe God bless you and your family!

  15. i felt really moved because I have done exactly the same . But God is our Redeemer and when you know He has forgiven us , He has done so. Do not look back but when we trust n believe in Him our Father in heaven, He is our alpha n omega. I do ask you n anyone who reads this, my prayer request is “pls pray for my hubby who does not believe in our Holy Father n my strength to persevere in prayer only comes from God our Saviour . His plans are the best we can experience with Him.
    Speak to me oh Lord, open my eyes n I am ready to walk with you wherever You lead me.
    May the Lord bless you n guide you Tricia in everything you do to the glory of Him.

  16. God has punished many of us with Singleness which i will Never understand why, especially when so many others were Blessed with a family. What about us?

  17. I wish I could get to the place where you are. Thank you for your message. I have an eating disorder and can’t beat it. I believe God must hate me for it. Every single hour of the day I disobey him by choosing food as my idol. I don’t think il ever be free or forgiven. Not because it is an going sin. At least your abortion was a ‘one off’ . Please help.

  18. Thank you so much for that. It definitely helped me to start forgiving myself of my past. It’s one thing to ask for God’s forgiveness, but it’s a completely different thing to forgive yourself. Again, Thank you for that!

  19. Thank you. Sometimes I think my wife’s unforgiving and jealous character (even though you won’t find anyone more faithful than me) is God’s way to keep me in line. I KNOW it’s not like that, but sometimes it FEELS like it is. I’m not perfect, but since I married, I’m even better than I was before, but in not small measure it is out of fear of her bad temper. Every morning we pray together and I know the most difficult part for her is to pray for those who have wronged us. But, when things go sour, I try to keep my mouth shut as much as I can and I silently pray and ask God to protect her, enlighten her and show her want HE wants, not necessarily what I want. However, there’s this nagging feeling deep inside that makes me think “God, whatever wrong I’ve done before, I’ve already paid you back tenfold. Please, stop. Please have mercy”. I know god is not asking me to pay anything as if he was a debt collector. Oh… thank you for your beautiful and brave article. I’ll keep it in made next time I feel the way I described.

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