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Thanksgiving before the miracle!

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

Give Thanks

Silent prayer

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.

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Lessons from ICU. 16. The LORD knows our pain

As I was admitted to the ICU, the nurses there had a “big” problem – literally. Due to the severity of edema, I was really huge. So, it was very difficult for them to do their regular duties as far as I was concerned. Especially, they had a problem finding one of my veins to draw blood for the various tests the physicians had ordered.

On the very first day, for nearly two hours, two nurses exerted themselves to the point of exhaustion, just pressing down my arms to find a vein. Finally in my left arm, they were able to find something to draw blood from – but it was not a vein, it was an artery. Inserting a needle and drawing blood from an artery is a painful thing even in ordinary circumstances. To hold my arm in such a strong grip and then to draw blood from the artery – it really was painful. Anyway, I was just happy that the pain was over. But then I was so wrong.

Everyday they had to withdraw blood 5-6 times, especially twice in the early mornings. Once the other nurses found out that it was so difficult to find a vein in my arms, they all went with this artery that was “discovered”. So, the needle was stuck at the same place again and again. In the early morning, it would be cold and the pain was become a little too intense for me. By the fourth day, my left arm was so sore, when one of the believers who visited me, took hold of my arm to comfort me and I cried out in pain – it was really severe and intense.

By fifth day, the pain had become intolerable, and I was scared to go to sleep, because I knew that in the morning, I would wake up in pain. On sixth morning, it was a trainee who came to collect the blood and she had trouble finding the artery. So, she held my sore arm very tight and inserted the needle thrice to get the artery, and the pain was excruciating. I winced in severe pain, and was seeking the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. There was a Christian nurse there, who called me “Anna” which means “Elder brother” in our language. She saw that I was in real pain and told the trainee that she would take my blood. However, even she had trouble locating my artery and I had to close my mouth with my right arm, to avoid screaming in pain. So, she stopped trying to take the blood and went to ask the staff nurse, if she had any other suggestions to take blood in a less painful manner. The staff nurse bluntly told her that she had to do what she had to do, and should not be worried about the reactions of the patient.

On hearing this, I prayed a small prayer, seeking the strength of our Lord and as my wont, started to meditate on Calvary. After receiving the grace of our Lord, I asked the nurse to take blood from me. She was still skeptical, but realizing that I was ready, she came to take the blood. As I winced in pain yet again when she touched my arm, she offered a little prayer. She said, “God, may this be the last time, the blood has to be taken from my brother. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.” The staff nurse who overheard the prayer, laughed out, saying that they had scheduled to take my blood two more times in the next 6 hours, and hence the Christian nurse should not be wasting her prayer on things that God Himself won’t be changing. Of course, the staff nurse was not a believer. The Christian nurse said, “Sister, you have no idea what our God can do.” With that, she took blood from me.

Yes, the staff nurse was right as there was an order to withdraw my blood two more times before noon. But the Christian nurse was more right, as no one knows what a Living God, Who hears the prayers of His children can do. Within an hour, the staff nurse was given instructions that no more blood samples were needed from me, and that I be transferred to general ward from ICU. Praise the LORD! HE heard my voice and the Christian sister’s voice during my distress and He delivered me.

Yes, dear friend, when we call on Him in our distress, we will be surprised to find that He is never far away from us; but right there next to you, waiting to deliver you. May this Christmas season be filled with the joy of knowing that our Lord Jesus Christ is Emmanuel – God is with us. Amen.

Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me free. – Psalm 118:5 (RSV)

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Lessons from ICU. 8. What you do everyday, counts

One morning, when a physician had come into the ICU with his entourage of students, mostly interns doing MD, an aged patient next to me, went into some kind of shock. His vitals went down and like they show in movies and serials, the instrument panel to which he was connected sounded the alarm.

The physician asked the interns what would be the best possible treatment that they could administer to that patient, since they already knew his history. Some of the interns are old-class, so they went back to their notes; the others are modernized, so they took their smartphones and went looking for their notes. Then someone would suggest one treatment, and another would tell why that treatment would not work on this patient. This went on for nearly 8 minutes, after which they had a consensus about the treatment that could be given to the patient.

I was watching all these in amazement, because 8 minutes is a very long time for an aged patient at ICU, who was going into some shock. But fortunately, the staff nurses there were in a different league. As soon as the patient went into the shock, they called out to the head staff nurse, who gave the instructions to be followed and the treatment to be given (it took less than a minute for the staff nurses to decide on the same treatment for which the MD interns took nearly 8 minutes). In unison, they worked and in less than 2 minutes, they had stabilized the patient. By the time, the interns had decided on the right treatment, the patient was sleeping peacefully in his bed – thanks to the quick action of the nurses.

The physician-in-charge saw that I was observing all these things, looked at me and with a wry smile, said, “Thank God, you are depending on those nurses; not on these medical interns.”

So what happened there? The interns had knowledge about so many things, yet they lacked first –hand experience that the nurses had. When the time came for them to act, their inexperience showed. But then look at the nurses. They obviously know less than the students who are studying to be MD. And it is not like they face an emergency situation every day. It is not that they have drills everyday to prepare them for such emergencies. Yet, when things went wrong, they went about their job in a very calm and professional manner. How was that possible?

Because the staff nurses were doing the small, routine things everyday in a calm and professional manner. For them, this emergency situation is just an extension of what they have been doing all the time; except time and the severity of the position, everything else was the same. And they could face it with such a serenity that the interns who are trying to be MDs have to be ashamed. Though the interns know a lot more, they were not doing this on regular basis and hence when the situation demanded, they were found wanting.

Sometimes, we Christians are also like those interns. We know the importance of prayer. We read a lot about prayer and how effective it is. We hear people talking about how our prayer changes the course of history and we believe it. But, we have little experience praying. We always felt that when the time comes, we will be able to pray because we know everything about prayer. But then the day of evil arrives. Temptation comes like a thief and before we realize, we are enslaved into sin. All because we did not pray every single day.

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But then there are some Christians who pray everyday. Probably not big prayers, but they pray everyday. Everyday morning, they have to spend few minutes in the presence of the LORD. Before doing anything, eating, drinking, dressing, anything at all, they have to pray. Prayer for the smallest things. Prayer for the biggest needs. For everything, they offer prayer. When we look at them, it looks like their Christian life is devoid of temptations and sins. But it is not true. They are tempted just like we are. Except that because they are praying everyday, when the temptation comes, their spirit is willing; though their flesh may be weak, their short prayers have become so powerful, they drive the temptations away just like that.

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Dear child of God, let us pray continually. Let us always offer prayers to our Father in heaven, so that He may not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Let prayer be something that we do every single day with humility.

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