“So David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away, and David rescued his two wives. And nothing of theirs was lacking, either small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything which they had taken from them; David recovered all” (1 Samuel 30: 1-8, 18-19).
Four years ago I went through a very trying time in my faith. My spiritual family and I were hurt very deeply during this time. My godparents were falsely accused of many terrible things. Through much prayer, I eventually made the decision to leave that church and within a few days my god-parents were asked to leave as well. By the end of that year I had lost several close friends.
One of these was a dear friend to me that I had defended repeatedly in her time of trouble. Yet when my time of trouble came, she turned her back on me. She sent me disparaging emails, unfriended me on facebook, and disconnected from me socially and spiritually. I was heart-broken.
“Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me” (Psalm 41:9).
All communication between us stopped – with one exception. Every year on her birthday I sent her a one line email wishing her a good year and a happy birthday. Occasionally, I also tried to encourage her in other more subtle ways; for example, leaving uplifting comments on a mutual friend’s post in reply to one of her comments. We were no longer “friends”, but by way of mutual contacts I knew that she could see some of those things. For the most part, my efforts were ignored.
I admit it was difficult for me. I was hurt that she rejected me. I was angry that she was judging me without knowing or understanding what had really happened at the church. I was sad that we were no longer friends. I missed her.
It took me some time, but eventually I forgave her. She was doing what she felt she had to. In shunning me, she was following the direction of her leadership. I understood that to go against the church leadership is rebellion; she was trying to do the right thing. Yes, I had defended her vehemently to that same leadership when they were falsely accusing her of things, but she never knew that. Yes, she believed the false reports spoken about us, but they were constructed in such a way as to be very convincing. In the end I felt badly for her that she was still in that situation when I had found my way to freedom.
Indeed, while that was the most difficult time I have had to endure since becoming a Christian, it was also the catalyst for helping me to grow in Christ and to dig deeper into Him. I have been incredibly blessed in this last four years. I now attend a wonderfully loving church with very supportive leadership. I have been able to attend Bible College, coach the youth in Bible Quizzing, be involved in a Chinese Home Church and meet many wonderful new friends. Everything that I lost was restored to me and then some! Is the church I attend now a perfect church? No, of course not. But it is exactly what I need in my life and it has afforded me many opportunities that would have been closed to me at my old church.
“For I will restore health to you, and heal you of your wounds, says the Lord, because they called you an outcast saying: This is Zion; No one seeks her.” (Jeremiah 30:17).
I have learned that truly all things work together for good (Romans 8:28) and that going through that time helped to bring me to where I am now. I also have a greater love and appreciation for those around me because I understand that things can change at any time and I know what a blessing it is to have them in my life.
Today, my dear friend that I lost four years ago sent me a friend request on Facebook. This may seem like a small thing, but I assure you, this is no small thing! Tears instantly welled behind my eyes when I saw it. Perhaps we will never be able to recover a friendship like the one we used to have, but I gladly welcome her back into my life. I pray she is well and that God is blessing her.
We truly serve a God of restoration!
In His Love,