From the writings of the Rev. Billy Graham

Dear Dr. Graham:

My cousin got heavily involved in drugs some years ago and now suffers from some brain damage. I know there are consequences for our actions but if he were to ask God to forgive him for his bad choices would God restore him?

— D.A.

Dear D.A.: God does not promise that all the consequences of sin will vanish when we come to Him with repentant hearts and submit ourselves to Him, but He does promise to be with us. Sin is a terrible and destructive thing, and sometimes we have to pay the consequences for our foolishness and rebellion against God.

King David sinned greatly when he committed adultery with another man’s wife. God forgave him when he truly repented and asked God for forgiveness — but the child born of that illicit union still died as an act of God’s judgment on David.

Now God does not always respond in the same way to the same circumstances, but He is sovereign and will use things in our lives to teach us about Him. But God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power (Ephesians 3:20). There are times when God works in ways that are beyond our human understanding to bring healing and restoration, although none of us can predict when this will be the case or in what fashion He demonstrates His power.

The best we can do for those who suffer from their past is to tell them about the Savior — Jesus Christ — and show them through Scripture that He is ready to hear their prayer of repentance and receive Him as Lord of their lives. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).