Finding Forgiveness—Just in Time for Thanksgiving

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

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Finding Forgiveness—Just in Time for Thanksgiving – Patti Richter on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Patti Richter headshot 2017-1n (2)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?

 “I hate change!”

by Sharon Tedford @61Things

I sat surrounded by piles of full cardboard boxes and wondered what on earth I’d done. I’d agreed to this move. It was a decision my husband and I made in unity, after fifty billion prayers and discussions. Yet in this moment, I questioned our decision to move four thousand miles away to America.

I was home with our youngest son, who was four at the time. There was great delight in his world. He had this empty house to play in, and three enormous cardboard boxes his big brother had built into an airplane, complete with wings and windows.

Everyone else was out, leaving me at home to unpack boxes.  I began to feel overwhelmed by questions which pushed their way to the front of my mind. “Why are you here? Are you crazy? This is too much for you!”

I flopped on the couch. “You’re right! It is too much. What was I thinking?”

Moving across the Atlantic Ocean was an opportunity too good to pass up. It was a good idea, in fact it was a great idea. But today it seemed questionable. You see, the people here drive on the wrong side of the road, and they also walk down the wrong side of corridors and staircases! They use funny money and talk in nonsensical phrases with an unusual cadence. They don’t use “tins” they use “cans”, and I can’t find a single swede, which is my favourite vegetable.

I was alone in the house with my sweet child—whose penchant for intellectual conversation had yet to develop. I had no friends and was cut off from family until our Internet connection was accessible. I couldn’t go to a local coffee shop to check my email because that would mean driving my new American car with a steering wheel on the wrong side!

It took two years before I finally recognized my problem.  We needed to repaint the inside of our home. There were swatches painted on almost every wall, and we’d finally narrowed it down to “greenish.”

So, why couldn’t I call the painters to get the project started? The day came when it dawned on me; what I feared was change.

Change.

Fear of change had been secretly impacting my life for many years.

For too long I’d allowed fear to sidle up to me and whisper nonsense in my ear. I’d let it tell me change was bad, difficult and filled with painful challenges. It was time to send this six-lettered beast on its way!

God says this about change:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2 NIV)

To act on God’s will, I need to have my mind changed. If I want to be more like Jesus, I need to think differently from how I am right now, and He will use that “renewing of my mind” to change me. It became clear to me: change is a beautiful and powerful thing. It enables us to live the way Jesus called us to live. In fact, our life with Him begins with a wonderful change: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

I don’t say, “I hate change” anymore because change has led me further into the freedom only Jesus can give. Change is making me more like my King. How about you?

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 “I hate change!” Honest insight from Sharon Tedford, @61Things, on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Sharon tedfordAbout the author: Sharon Tedford is an experienced British storyteller who uses her gifts as a singer, author, worship leader, and speaker to connect with her listeners, inviting them into a revitalized relationship with God.  Her humorous stories always end with an invitation to action. Mother to three teenagers and the wife of an Irishman, Sharon encourages people to live a God-focused life. You can connect with her at www.61-things.com.

Sharon’s book, Stand, is a devotional based on the stories behind her songs. Readers will be drawn into a deeper personal experience with God and learn how to stand on the truth of a Heavenly Father who loves them. 

Join the conversation: How do you deal with change?