By Joanne Highley
Published December 1993
It happened. I was sitting on the subway reading my Bible, on my way to a Messianic Believer’s Seminar in Brooklyn. I had just taken out my pen to underline some terrific truths in Isaiah:
So this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone
For a sure foundation;
The one who trusts will never be dismayed.
You will keep in perfect peace him
whose mind is steadfast,
Because he trusts in You.
Trust in the Lord forever,
For the Lord, the Lord is the Rock Eternal.
Surely this is our God; we trusted in Him
and He saved us.
This is the Lord, we trusted in Him.
Let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation.
Just as I was underlining these glorious words and feeling such warmth of truth and peace flood me, I glanced to my right, and a man swooped down, grabbed my purse, and stepped out the subway door as it closed and the train pulled away. All I could mutter was, “Oh, no!” as I glimpsed the person walk down the subway ramp with my purse.
My thoughts went to the contents of my purse—what credit cards, what important papers, my keys, driver’s license, my watch (a gift from Ron), my silver key chain ( gift from Danuta), my coin purse, my passport (I had applied for aid to pay for Ron’s hospital stay). Such an invasion! What could I do? What would he do with my purse, my beautiful purse?
Let me tell you what this purse meant to me. Part of my problem growing up was a disrespect for my mother. When Daddy died, she took me, her last baby, as her emotional mate. Feeling smothered, I grew to hate many things about her, but I hated her purse most of all. It was always bulging with envelopes, powder puffs, hankies, sticks of chewing gum, photos of grandchildren, band-aids, perfume, paper clips, etc. A very obnoxious purse. It seemed to weigh her down.
So, over the years, I had resisted carrying a purse. Pockets, briefcases, satchels anything but a real purse. In the ministry, it became a “cause” for some people to get me to try a “training purse”. I went through all those phases of getting the truth to prevail over my emotional judgment of my mother. So, I had gone to Macy’s and paid for a beautiful purse—a black leather Stone Mountain shoulder bag that seemed to redeem all that the locusts had eaten. I was thrilled to carry it and be like my mother—and now it was gone.
When I arrived at the seminar Ron and I called the stores, credit card companies, and our bank to stop any transactions and our apartment building to alert them. After all, the thief knew our address and had my keys. But all went well and the only repercussion was two calls to foreign countries for which we were not charged.
But why was my lovely “redemption” purse stolen while I was reading scripture on my way to sing at a Christian seminar? Why didn’t God protect me, His “faithful servant”, especially when He knows how low we are on cash right now?
Trust in the Lord forever,
Trust in Him and You’ll
never be dismayed.
There are ways I could have followed my emotions and they could have led me to a big false concept of God—that He didn’t care, He didn’t protect, He didn’t love. But I knew He did, because I trusted in Him no matter what. So what was He teaching me through this? He was teaching me a great lesson—that we are not as smart as God is. He is all-wise and knows just what we need for the future. All our experiences are “training purses” through His mighty power. I needed to trust Him even more. Yes, the purse had meant a lot to me and I felt invaded, but God was still right there and I could trust that He is good when bad things happen. I learned to be thankful like the famous Biblical scholar, Matthew Henry, when he was robbed:
Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before, second, because, although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.
Ron and I prayed for the thief at the seminar and we desire his salvation and repentance. I praise God that I could witness to the two policemen who took the report. I felt so loved as Ron gave me a beautiful new purse a few days later just like the one that was stolen. Susan gave me a new silver key chain just like the other one. My heart rejoiced at all the blessings of losing my purse. I could praise God for His great working in my heart.
Did someone steal Christmas from you? Did they yell or curse or get drunk? Did the lack of family love and stability make you feel so desperate that you went out to sin for escape? Let God redeem Christmas for you! He is good and He will restore what the locusts have eaten. Let the joy of salvation override the pain of childhood and cancel the power of sin. Jesus is born—rejoice! You’ve been forgiven and cleansed! Plan on rejoicing at His birth—giving gifts, writing letters, singing carols, putting up a string of lights, celebrating His birth no matter how robbed you may feel you were. He came to set the captive free and to give beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning and a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness!
Surely this is our God;
We trusted in Him and He saved us.
This is the Lord, we trust in Him.
Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.