Soon after I was admitted to the emergency ward, a nurse came in and was shocked to see me in such a condition. After sometime, I came to know that she is a Christian too, and once I was stabilized, as I was talking to my wife, she came to us, and in mock anger, slapped my hand, castigating for coming to the emergency ward in such a perilous situation. She also scolded, albeit mockingly, my wife for not taking care of me properly.
Later when I was shifter to the ICU, she would visit me twice a day, and with the other Christian nurses there, she showered so much love on me and my wife. Not only that, she even brought more Christian nurses (who were not part of ICU or emergency ward) and they would pray for me and say encouraging words. I was told that they all attend the same church, in a nearby area.
This showering of love continued even after I was shifted to the Special Ward. But the special ward was a little far from the emergency ward where she was working, so slowly the frequencies of the visits reduced. And then for nearly four days, she was unable to visit us, but she would call twice every day to make sure that everything was okay with us. Then four days later, she called us to inform that she was going to bring some more nurses to visit me that evening and if that was okay with us. Of course, we had no problem.
When I got admitted, I was noticeably rotund, especially my face and all my features. But after nearly two weeks, I had lost lots of weight and looked like my normal self. That evening, she came in with few more Christian nurses, and as soon as they saw me, they stopped walking and looked at her with a disappointed look: “He does not look like what you told us”, they told her. Then she told me that I had lost of lots of weight and did not have any resemblance with how I looked on the day I was admitted to emergency ward. Then they stayed for few minutes, and left. There was some sort of disappointment in the way all those nurses talked with me, but I could not understand what was wrong. That was the last time I met that nurse. Though she stayed in touch through phone, she did not visit us after that. So what happened? I finally got that answer on July 24th, 2016, the last Sunday I was there.
By then, I was able to stand up and move freely with little assistance. So, we decided to let the believer brother who accompanied us to the hospital to go to the Sunday service that day. Since he had also become friends with those nurses by that time, he decided to go to the same church where they go; of course, their church sends a minibus to pick up believers from the hospital and drop them off again also helped. When he came back, he told us about the worship and sermon. Then I asked him about the pastor and he hesitated for a moment. Then he said, “Please don’t misunderstand me. He exactly looked like you, when you were admitted to the Emergency Ward. He is quite rotund, and obese – and even the facial features were quite identical. But that was when you were sick.”
It was then I understood why those nurses took care of me so much – they all are attached to their pastor and I reminded them of him. So, they treated me as if they were treating their pastor. That was why so many nurses visited me and prayed for me. And, it was why they were so disappointed when I had lost weight and looked my normal self. We burst out laughing when we realized the reason for their disappointment.
Unfortunately this was not the first time it was happening to me. During the days I was doing my Masters in India, I was a Christian, but I also followed the ways of the world. And it made me very popular and I had many friends. I never had time to read the Bible, or to pray or to spend time with Jesus, because my friends took up lots of my time. Then I hit a rocky road, and one day, I realized that I had gone far away from my Savior. As I started to read my Bible and spend time with our Lord, I noticed that slowly many friends disappeared from my network as they were disappointed to find that I am after all a “Christian.” Then came a day, I suddenly realized that I had no friends left at all. No one to talk to, no one to laugh with. The weird part was I was still spending the same amount of time for them; I was not preaching the Gospel to them. It was my inner spiritual journey, yet they sensed that I am different than before, and some of them openly expressed their disappointment and disappeared from my life.
Isn’t it sad that even our best friends have their own vision of who we are; and the moment they realize that we are not the same person as in their vision, they are disappointed. Some try to change us to that image, but some move on to other better images.
But it also made me think. The Lord does have a vision for each one of us. In His great wisdom, He has chosen us to be His vessels, to show the world His love and grace. I don’t know about you, but I had fallen short of His vision so many times. I had failed our Beloved innumerable times. There were times I failed so miserably, I felt that He would simply forsake me, and go ahead with someone else with His plan.
But God’s love for me has not changed a bit. No matter how many times, His vision for me has tarred by my foolish acts, His love takes hold of me, in the same way He took hold of me when I was a small kid, seeking the love and shoulders of a father. For me, the vision may look blurred, but from the view of God, it is as if nothing has happened to blur that loving image He has carved of me in His forehands.
Yes, there were times I had displeased our Lord greatly; there were times, He was disappointed in me. But, then my Brother and my Friend Jesus, the Son of God, is there at the right hand of my Father; the great Advocate, the High Priest, Who understands my weaknesses, Who is willing to wash away any blemish that I am willing to confess and own up, with His own blood. And, the anger of my Father lasts only for a second, but He loves me with an eternal love. A love that is not disappointed with how I am changing. A love that keeps the glorious vision that the Lord has for me in its sight. A love that transcends all human love and all human understanding. The eternal love of the Eternal God. Oh, I am so blessed!
Last year at this time, August 9th. 2016, 11:30 pm, I was in the hospital, after undergoing a totally unnecessary biopsy, wearing a medical gown; as I was already suffering from severe pain, three sets of doctors left three different instructions on what position I should sleep that night, and was constantly interrupted by one or the other nurse, to change my sleeping position according to which doctor had left the instructions to that particular nurse; so, when I entered August 10th, 2016, my birthday, I was sleep deprived, wearing a medical gown and in severe pain.
So, this year, I did not have any plans for my birthday. Even yesterday, when I was praying for my birthday, I was grateful that this year, I would not be wearing a medical gown, suffering from sleep deprivation and intense pain. I just thanked the Lord for this, and in prayer, asked Him to bless me according to His will, and whatever He does, I will accept it with a grateful heart.
Imagine my surprise then when this morning (August 9th, 2017), as I was getting ready for our morning family prayer, my cousin brother called me to ask if I would join him for a small trip to Pondicherry, a nearby town by the East Coast of India. When I asked him what the occasion was, he told me that his family just wanted to go out and he would be happy if my wife and I could join them for the trip.
So, we went in the morning and I just came back. It was exhausting, but in a good way. We went to the beach, had some delicious food and did some shopping. More importantly I could spend a lot of time with my nieces. Though I became very tired in the evening, the Lord strengthened me soon.
I am too exhausted now. All I want is to sleep. But then my heart is filled with so much gratitude, I don’t know how to thank our Father in Heaven. One thing though. When I was young, I was taught that if you leave anything to the will of God, you will end up suffering a lot – remember the prayer of Jesus at Gethsemane and what happened to Him within 24 hours – is what I was taught. Though over the years I understood the folly of that notion, “according to Your will” had been always associated with severe afflictions and tribulations. But, the death at Calvary is not the end. It is the path leading to the glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ; yes, the will of the Lord is not always to make us suffer, but once we have suffered with Jesus, to make us partakers in His revealed glory.
With a grateful heart, I praise our Father and as I am about to begin a new year, Father, may Your will be done in my life; bless me according to Your Word that You have given Your servant. Through Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.
There used to be a commercial for MasterCard few years back. It is called, “Priceless.” It would show few things in life and what their costs were, then conclude with this: “The smile in your …… face – priceless. There are something that money cannot buy; but for everything else, there is MasterCard.” Recently I had such an experience. No, not MasterCard experience, but a “priceless” experience.
There is a believer in our church; she is a widow and lives with her youngest daughter. They live in abject poverty, so poor that they would attend only Sunday services, not any other prayer meetings. Because for both of them to come to the church, it would cost them (which would be less 50 cents) and they can’t afford to even spare that. Entire week, they have to work so they can have enough money to attend the Sunday services. Because of their poverty, most of the time you see them, there would be sadness in their faces, though they will be smiling all the time.
They became very close to us during this last year, during my sickness. The daughter treated me like an elder brother and whenever they come to the church, they would help my wife by doing all the household works and in taking care of me, especially when I was very sick.
This March, when I was again under severe trauma, she brought me breakfast as I was under severe pain and was unable to move. I could sense that she was more sad that day than usual. When I enquired her, she was initially reluctant to tell me anything, as I was already suffering from intense pain; but then with tears, she opened up.
Her sister, who eloped with someone, wanted to reconcile with her family for the last one year. However, her mom was not ready for reconciliation; not because she had not forgiven her. But because, as per Indian custom, when the girl comes home for the first time after her marriage, especially with a child, they have to provide her with some jewels, snacks and dresses. Since they did not have any money, for last one year, her mother has been desisting the reconciliation process. When they tried to borrow some money from their relatives, they were abused and humiliated for following a “foreign” God, and were thrown out. They were advised to wait for the Lord to give them enough provisions before inviting their eloped daughter back to home – and they had been waiting for the last one year. Now, her sister’s daughter is 3 years old and she really wants to meet her grandmother before going to school. So, they were very upset about all these.
I told her to invite her sister to come home; the LORD would provide whatever they need. I asked her to take the step in simple faith.
They did. Like simple children, they took my word and the LORD did provide with more money than they could have borrowed from their relatives. The daughter who eloped, came to the church, sought our forgiveness for what she did and has been visiting her mother frequently, along with her daughter.
Last Saturday (August 5th, 2017), as I was getting ready to go upstairs, I heard the gate opening and turned to see who was coming. The youngest daughter was coming in, with such a joyful smile in her face, along with her mom and sister. I have never seen such a smile in her face and it was priceless. There was a spring in her walk and she was genuinely happy.
What was surprising me the most was how satisfied I have been since that smile. That priceless smile has been, truly, priceless for me. There is a sense of serenity in my heart, ever since I saw her smile.
Then I remembered something I have read in the Bible about our LORD. Zephaniah 3:17 says thus: The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. (NKJV)
If a true smile in the face of a sister I know only for a year can bring so much joy into my heart, then how glad our Mighty God will be, to see a smile of joy in our faces; HE carried us as we were being formed in the wombs of our mothers; when we were born, His tender hands lifted us up. Ever since He has been a loving Father, Who is taking care of us.
In this world filled with various tribulations and afflictions, there are times when we can’t even force a smile in our faces. So, when His Word is fulfilled in our life, when His promises come true, when we taste His blessings, that smile in our face – brings so much joy to our Father’s heart.
In all the troubles we are facing, He quiets us with His love, through His Son Jesus Christ; and when He sees that joyfulness in our hearts, that genuine smile in our faces, He rejoices over us with singing. Oh, what a great loving God we worship! What a loving Father we have in Heaven! What a wonderful Savior we have in our Lord Jesus Christ! How blessed are we!
And Jesus lifted up His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me” (John 11:41).
This is a very strange and unusual order. Lazarus is still in the grave, and the thanksgiving precedes the miracle of resurrection. I thought that the thanksgiving would have risen when the great deed had been wrought, and Lazarus was restored to life again. But Jesus gives thanks for what He is about to receive. The gratitude breaks forth before the bounty has arrived, in the assurance that it is certainly on the way. The song of victory is sung before the battle has been fought. It is the sower who is singing the song of the harvest home. It is thanksgiving before the miracle!
Who thinks of announcing a victory-psalm when the crusaders are just starting out for the field? Where can we hear the grateful song for the answer which has not yet been received? And after all, there is nothing strange or forced, or unreasonable in the Master’s order. Praise is really the most vital preparatory ministry to the working of the miracles. Miracles are wrought by spiritual power. Spiritual power is always proportioned to our faith.– Dr. Jowett
“O troubled soul, beneath the rod,
Thy Father speaks, be still, be still;
Learn to be silent unto God,
And let Him mould thee to His will.
“O praying soul, be still, be still,
He cannot break His plighted Word;
Sink down into His blessed will,
And wait in patience on the Lord.
“O waiting soul, be still, be strong,
And though He tarry, trust and wait;
Doubt not, He will not wait too long,
Fear not, He will not come too late.”
“Concerning the work of My hands command ye <e” (Isaiah 45:11).
Our Lord spoke in this tone when He said, “Father, I will.” Joshua used it when, in the supreme moment of triumph, he lifted up his spear toward the setting sun, and cried, “Sun, stand thou still!”
Elijah used it when he shut the heavens for three years and six months, and again opened them.
Luther used it when, kneeling by the dying Melanchthon, he forbade death to take his prey.
It is a marvelous relationship into which God bids us enter. We are familiar with words like those which follow in this paragraph: “I, even My hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.” But that God should invite us to command Him, this is a change in relationship which is altogether startling!
What a difference there is between this attitude and the hesitating, halting, unbelieving prayers to which we are accustomed, and which by their perpetual repetition lose edge and point!
How often during His earthly life did Jesus put men into a position to command Him! When entering Jericho, He stood still, and said to the blind beggars:
“What will ye that I shall do unto you?” It was as though He said, “I am yours to command.”
Can we ever forget how He yielded to the Syrophenician woman the key to His resources and told her to help herself even as she would?
What mortal mind can realize the full significance of the position to which our God lovingly raises His little children? He seems to say, “All my resources are at your command.” “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do.” — F. B. Meyer
Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. – 1 Samuel 1:13 (NKJV)
Nowadays, you need to be verbose in prayer for people to realize how much you are suffering. If you remain calm, not talking much about your afflictions, then either you have no problems or you are not suffering enough.
Especially with the latest motivational self-help books asking you to “speak your heart out, tell exactly how you feel, don’t let the emotions remain in your heart”, many Christians are taking this route. Yes, when we tell others aloud about our problems, we feel as if the burden has reduced. But, it is what we feel. In truth, nothing has changed. It is sad that more Christians seek a temporary relief for their problems, when the Prince of peace is waiting to give a permanent solution.
In today’s world, if you even have a headache, you need to post in Facebook; you need to send a tweet about how bad you are feeling; and of course, a photograph on Instagram is a must so that others understand your pain. Then you need to monitor to see how many likes and comments you get, and who gave the first like, and who took time to comment… It is really sad that a generation is wasting their life, instead of spending their time in prayer.
One of the verses about prayers in the Bible is written about Hannah. It says that despite all her sorrows, only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Yet, later she tells Eli that she had poured out her heart before the Lord (v.15). Yes, we can pour our hearts before the Lord without our voices being heard.
This is what our Lord Jesus Christ taught us about prayer. If we read the Sermon of the Mount, in the segment where He deals with prayer, Jesus says to pray in secret so that our Father Who sees in secret will reward us (Matthew 6:6). May the Spirit of God help us to internalize our feelings and pour it out in secret to our loving Father, so that we may receive the rewards He has for us. Amen.
And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last. – Luke 23:46
This is the seventh and the last of the utterances of our Saviour Jesus Christ from the Cross and it is the Word of Rest.
Just like God created the world and its order and finished everything on the Sixth day, Jesus said “It is finished!” as His sixth utterance from the Cross. And God rested on the Seventh day. And the seventh utterance of Jesus is a Word of rest.
Before “It is finished!”, the cry of the Lord is, “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me?” After it is finished, it is “Father”. Yes, dear friend, Jesus Christ has fulfilled the Law and has paid the price in full. Before it was “our God”; before we felt as if He has forsaken us. Not anymore, because God, Who is the Father of Jesus Christ, is also our Father in heaven.
Before “It is finished!”, Jesus felt as if the hands of Father had let Him down. But, once it is done, it is into those same hands, Jesus commits His spirit. We can rest knowing that the eternal God is our Refuge and underneath are His everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27).
Before “It is finished!”, Jesus asked His Father, “Why have You forsaken Me?”. But now, He says, “I commit My spirit.” Dear friend, commit your life to our Father now. Commit your future to Him. Commit your everything to Him. As Paul said, we know Whom we have believed. Believe in our Father Who gave His only Son for us. May that faith bring rest unto our life. Amen.
Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” – Luke 23:34
The first of the seven utterances of our LORD Jesus Christ, when He was on the Cross. We are told to forgive others, because Jesus forgave those who crucified Him. But, Jesus did not forgive them, He prayed for their forgiveness.
On numerous accounts, we see in the Gospels, Jesus forgiving the sins of many sinners. When the Scribes questioned His authority to forgive sins, Jesus clearly tells them that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6). So, why didn’t He forgive the sins of those who crucified Him? Jesus could have simply said, “I forgive you, for you do not know what you do.” Instead, He prays to Father to forgive them.
There could be many reasons for this. But one of the reasons, IMHO, could be that Jesus is setting an example for what He preached in Matthew 5:44-45.
“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.”
In His infinite wisdom, our Lord knows that there will be certain offenses against us, that no matter how much we want to forgive those who offended us, we will not be able to. There will be certain bitterness remaining in our hearts. So, Jesus instructs us to pray for their forgiveness. As a Man, it would have been very difficult for Jesus to forgive those who were crucifying Him. So, He prays to His Father to forgive them. Yes, He is a High Priest Who understands our weaknesses.
Dear friend, there may be some who have hurt you so much, that your life has become bitter. You have tried your best to forgive them, but it is of no use. So, now is the example that the Saviour has set before us. Let us pray for them. Let us ask the Father our God to forgive them. If He forgives them, then He will surely pour His abundant grace into our hearts, that we will be able to forgive too.