It’s Okay to be Happy

It’s Okay to be Happy

As we drove away from a series of four doctor appointments—all in one week, thoughts flooded my mind. Although emotionally spent, it was a very satisfied feeling. I just couldn’t believe it. This was something that seemed like it would never come: Good news!

But now I had a new, unexpected feeling brewing in my heart… GUILT.  Many know our family has had many years of health challenges with our daughter Taylor. In July, she was finally able to get surgery to repair her severely damaged shoulder.

Recovery is progressing well.  So, why the guilt? In part, it is because I have very dear people around me who are not receiving good news.  One friend is learning to live again without her husband as he went to be with Jesus last Christmas Eve. Another is facing the unknowns of brain cancer. Still another is in the grip of mental illness. These sisters are dear to me and they are suffering. I find it hard to rejoice in my good news in the midst of it all.  My heart is heavy for them but also, I feel like I have somehow betrayed my fellow suffering club members. Perhaps being in a similar position as me, you have felt the same? So, before I share the rest of my good news, I’d like to share some thoughts as I work through this struggle.

First. Press on!—Thankfully.  I am so thankful for the treasures I have found in the dark places of suffering (Is. 45:3). Suffering is part of our sanctification and there is no question that we will face it until we see Jesus face to face. If you find yourself in reprieve, love and give out of a grateful heart. Continue to stay in touch with your fellow sufferer. The walk of faith is like a hospital where the doctors are patients and the patients are doctors.  We press on playing whatever part God has for us. “God is good all the time and all the time, God is good”. That is what Taylor quoted from the movie God’s Not Dead as the nurse rolled her out of the O.R. after her surgery.  It was a rough time. She was feeling sick from the anesthesia and wrapped up with bandages that made her look like a football player. Those words were true then and they are just as true now when she is recovering and feeling much better.

Second, don’t allow yourself to be the victim. It might feel easier to stay in the shadow of hard times, looking for ways that things still are not right. I have been tempted to do this myself. Victim status is not a healthy place to be. When we fall on this side of things, we lose our saltiness. Our hearts end up becoming hard and less pliable. It may be compared to a pie.  When you make a pie, one of the key elements is the crust.  It can be tricky, there is a perfect balance of mixing the ingredients and squeezing them together to make the perfectly light and flaky crust that pie-lovers drool over (trust me on this one, I am married to one such pie-lover). If you knead that dough just a little too long it gets stiff, falls apart and generally frustrates the baker.  Yes, I am speaking from experience! We do well to ensure that our hearts are staying pliable and fresh. We can only do this when we remember the gospel and stay grounded in our identity in Christ no matter what the circumstances are, good or bad.

With that said, I am going to step out in faith and share the rest of some very good news in hopes that you can rejoice with us. We are humbled to be sharing this.

Last week, I took Taylor to her annual eye doctor appointment to check on the cataract she has had since birth. The main point of this annual check-up is to ensure that it does not get bigger. This year, as in previous years, the cataract stayed the same size. But Taylor baffled the doctor by having her best exam yet.  She saw better out of that eye than she ever has her entire life! There is no rhyme or reason for it, other than God’s mercy.

Also last week, we saw the orthopedic doctor who performed her shoulder surgery.  Everything looked good and she will be starting physical therapy in September. Taylor asked the doctor once she is healed what she will not be able to do. His answer was astounding! He said, “Nothing! I expect you to have a full recovery and to be able to do everything.”

Finally, today we met with the neurologist for a follow-up.  Everything is good with her meds. He said this break of five months without any seizures is a good sign and that she may eventually be healed and therefore able to get off of the medication altogether! I am in awe of God’s goodness. Thank you for praying!

Encouragement to Forgive

Forgiveness is not a popular topic these days. We know we should forgive but in our worst moments, we might rather just get even. Forgiveness can seem hard, complicated, and sometimes we rationalize that it is the thing “I just can’t do”. This is especially true in relationships where we have been hurt time and time again by a spouse, child, sibling, or friend. Following are two important points to remember that will help you forgive others.

First, we forgive because we have been forgiven by Christ. Consider Ephesians 4:32. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” To me, this sounds like a model for forgiveness. How does God forgive us? His forgiveness is limitless. He forgives every offense: the big ones and the little ones. His forgiveness is offered and granted in love and is not grudging. He really does forgive and promises never to bring our sin up against us ever again. How do we measure up to his example?

Our ability to forgive others is based on our own experience of being forgiven by God. When we find it difficult to forgive others, instead of mustering will-power, we should ask God for a deeper understanding of our own sin so that we can confess it and receive God’s forgiveness. Are we daily confessing sin? Are we daily receiving his forgiveness? If so, that will go a long way toward empowering us to quickly and eagerly forgive others.

Second, forgiveness restores and builds relationships. Our relationship with God is restored by His forgiveness of us thru Jesus Christ. All relationships depend on and are strengthened by mutually forgiving one another. When we sin against another person, a wedge is driven between us. When we forgive someone we are saying in real terms that they are more important than whatever happened. This also means that we are willing to absorb the cost that real forgiveness requires. This begins with the conscious decision not to hold their sin against them. But this could include other costs such as your own time, inconvenience, absorbing emotional costs or the even the cost to replace something the person cannot afford to replace themselves.

One of the miracles of forgiveness is the restoration it can produce in relationships. When forgiveness is sincerely requested and graciously given, a relationship passes an important test that enables it to grow; actually making the relationship stronger. Of course, there are situations where significant sins or sins that have been a pattern can set relationships back. Forgiveness can be granted, but perhaps trust needs to be restored. This will take time. However, only forgiveness provides the necessary foundation upon which rebuilding can be accomplished.

Working closely in a business can resemble a family; distrust, competition or real cooperation. Harmony builds a team, a family and a business. I’ll never forget a time as work when a senior manager of another department called me at 5 pm to advise me that the next day one of my engineers would report to him! I had a major melt down and stomped out feeling satisfied that my response registered my anger over his stealing one of my best engineers. On the drive home, the Holy Spirit convicted me of my sinful, angry response. Early the next morning I was in the manager’s office and asked him to forgive me for the way I responded. His response: “Ok… if you are sorry”. This presented the opportunity to explain the difference between “sorry – I got caught” and “forgive – a contract to want to work together”. Our personal relationship grew stronger and the new quality control group the engineer developed improved the reputation of our products.

Are you struggling to forgive someone? If so, be encouraged first that God has forgiven you for your sins. The Psalmist tells us as far as the east is from the west, so has God removed our sins from us. This provides a powerful motive for forgiving others. Second, forgiveness provides a foundation upon which restoration of the relationship can take place. Wouldn’t you rather enjoy your relationships? Forgiveness makes that possible; with God and with others.

Lightsey Wallace is Executive Director of The Psalm 119 Project. To receive a FREE e-copy of his Psalm 119 devotional, please email him at jlwallace6@mindspring.com.