by Patti Richter
A depressed soul and a holiday make a poor pair. So, I sat down to pray about my unhappy condition one morning in November.
I could have written a turkey-size list of things to be thankful for, including: good health; loving family; beautiful home. Instead, complaints ran through my mind like newsfeed in bold type, obstructing the bigger picture.
We had recently moved to another state for my husband’s job. Throughout this adventure, I sensed God’s help in all of the challenges: selling our house, getting our daughter off to college, resettling our sons into school, and house-hunting. But my confidence in God suffered a blow on the day we moved in to our new home. My wallet disappeared.
Such a loss on this big day left me reeling. I’d stuffed the oversized wallet with move-related receipts, cash, credit cards, and my wedding ring—tucked inside an envelope until I could find a jeweler to fix the loose diamond. A thief would have my driver license too, perhaps to steal my identity!
Two men had arrived unexpectedly to finish electrical work on the house while my husband and I directed the incoming boxes and furniture. I noticed one of the two had a strange look on his face as they left. When I reached into an empty kitchen cabinet to retrieve my purse and discovered my wallet was gone, I abandoned the move-in effort to head back to our hotel, in case I’d left it there. Disappointed and exhausted, I sat down to make phone calls to cancel credit cards.
Unpacking in the following days kept me too busy to let anger take over. But at night my bitterness came out like air from a pin-pricked balloon, and I woke up deflated each morning. I began second-guessing our decision to move, and I worried about everything. After too many sleepless nights, I fell into depression.
With Thanksgiving coming, I anticipated our daughter’s first time with us in our new home, but I needed the Lord to revive me. When I sat down that morning to ask for his help, those angry thoughts sprang up instead. And I blamed my poor outlook on the man I believed had robbed me.
Such bitter meditations made me realize I’d lost more than a wallet. I could live without getting all those items back, but I couldn’t go on without joy and peace. Paul warns against refusing to forgive in Ephesians 4:31: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice…” (NASB) Holding on to bitterness was stealing my joy and peace. I realized what I needed to do: ask the Lord to help me forgive, and pray that He would help the thief see his need for a Savior.
By the time I finished praying, I felt sincere forgiveness toward the man. As the day went by, I realized my anger had somehow dissolved in the transaction. That night, my sleep returned to normal—just in time for Thanksgiving.
When the holiday arrived, I relished having my family together again. After dinner, while washing dishes with my daughter beside me, I noticed my husband stretched out on the floor of the guest bathroom. He wanted to examine the plumbing beneath the pedestal sink. Suddenly, with a smile on his face, he held out my wallet—as thick as the day it went missing. Except for thirty dollars of cash missing, everything remained inside, including my wedding ring!
Though I felt so thankful to have my wallet restored, I realized the Lord had allowed it to stay hidden for weeks. Perhaps he wanted me to discover something more valuable first.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14 NIV
About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She writes and edits global resourcing stories for The Gospel Coalition, and her Good Faith column appears at BlueRibbonNews.com. She is the co-author of Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering (2019).
Luann Mire faced overwhelming circumstances when her godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Signs of His Presence is the story of her experiences, as God proved Himself faithful to His promises. Signs of His presence came at timely moments–often in astonishing ways.
Join the conversation: Have you ever felt the relief of finally forgiving?