Sovereignty, Forgiveness, and Hope

Author: Joyce Yearsley


Thirty years ago, I was pregnant with our third child, Elizabeth. Near Christmas, we went to the church we were involved with at the time for a Christmas play that our kids were in. A visitor with two children came in and I made my way over to meet her. We shook hands and chatted briefly, and then she introduced her young children. I’m not a medical professional, but it was evident that her children both had Chicken Pox. I asked the woman, but she denied that they were infected, though it was very clear that they were. After that brief encounter, we sat at a distance.


Several days later, I delivered a healthy baby girl, but within a day or two, I was very ill and in fact, I almost died. Elizabeth (and our other two kids) all contracted Chicken Pox. All of us were extremely sick and Elizabeth almost died.


As a result of a very brief encounter, Elizabeth has cerebral palsy and now, at the age of 29, has the mental capacity of about a 5 month old baby. To this day, I still struggle with the after effects of my own bout with the disease. Three things stand out in these experiences:

1. The sovereignty of God—did God know what would happen? Obviously, yes He did. He knew, He allowed it and He will use it somehow to His own purposes and glory. That said, the Lord who allowed this still feels compassion toward our family and toward Elizabeth. He has been abundantly gracious to us, in many, many ways. His love to us as a family is nothing short of amazing.

“The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions

never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”

Lamentations 3:22-23

2. The forgiveness of God—I have never seen the woman of whom I spoke since that night, I have no idea if she is a believer or not. But one thing I know: the Lord would forgive her in a heartbeat if she would ask for it. How do I know this? Because as a young teen with a heart full of rebellion and hate, I asked for forgiveness, and received it in a heartbeat. As I have received forgiveness for an abundance of sin, I have forgiven that woman for the pain she caused, whether knowingly or unknowingly. In my heart, she stands forgiven.

“Bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a

complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also

should you.” Colossians 3:13

3. Our hope in God—Tomorrow we celebrate the day Jesus Christ rose in power from the grave. On that day, He brought hope to those who dwelt in the darkness of agony and those who dwelt as prisoners of sin. (All of us)! This life and all of its ills, sorrows and brokenness will soon be past and eternity will come. This life is but a breath compared to eternity. In eternity Elizabeth will be whole (and I as well). She will struggle no more. Our hope is not in a miracle cure for the current disease that plagues our nation, nor is it in our sufficient distancing efforts (though I would beg you for the sake of all the “Elizabeths” out there to please do so).


Our hope is in the love of our God, His perfect sovereignty, forgiveness for our sin and His great promises of life eternal.


Yes, friends, we still struggle on a daily basis with the effects of living in a fallen world. Every day of my life is molded around the care and concerns of Elizabeth’s life. Some days are difficult, some are honestly, awful. No day is easy. But in the Lord’s perfect planning, He is my hope, my strength and my fortress.

“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the

fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order

that I might attain to the resurrection from the dead.”



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