I was ministering to a dear lady the other day whose husband has been suffering from a debilitating disease the last few years. She shared with me how difficult it has been for her to watch her loved one's health deteriorating, and to bear the burden of having to perform more and more of his daily tasks, as well as her own. I had great compassion for this woman because I had watched my own husband, Joe, suffer with some very serious afflictions over the years. At the age of 51, he suffered a massive heart attack that nearly took his life. Several years later, he needed open-heart surgery to repair a valve that was rapidly failing. Within the last few months, Joe has received two new diagnoses of diseases that initially left us stunned and disheartened. But you know what? I continue to pray and claim God's promises of healing, health, and wholeness for myself and my loved ones daily, with just as much hope and enthusiasm as I ever did.
You see, as I sought the Lord for His wisdom and guidance about my husband's latest health challenges, He reminded me about an experience I had with a friend some years ago. I was lamenting to her how my 4-year-old pet duck, Larry, had been diagnosed with severe arthritis in his legs. He was having trouble walking, and it was heartbreaking watching him trying to keep up with our other ducks. Lameness in a duck can be very serious, even life-threatening, so I knew that this diagnosis of arthritis could be a death sentence for him. As I described my feelings of disappointment and sadness to my friend, she told me, "Enjoy every single day that you have Larry. See him as a precious gift from the Lord, and keep thanking God for him." I am happy to report that I took her words to heart, and that Larry will be celebrating his 15th birthday this summer.
The Lord was reminding me about my friend's "prescription" for adjusting my focus in a difficult situation because He wanted to bring to my remembrance some of the most powerful principles in His Word. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV) I had read these verses of Scripture countless times over the years, but I always seemed to focus more on the "prayer and petition" part, than the "thanksgiving" part. And because of that, I had often continued to fret and worry about something that was troubling me. But since I have learned to have an attitude of gratitude in challenging situations, I have experienced more peace and stability than I ever dreamed possible. I have discovered that the more I give thanks, the more peace I have. And the more peace I have, the more effective my prayers are. In other words, my faith works better when I am at peace.
The Bible says, "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." (James 5:16 NASB) There are effective prayers, and then there are ineffective prayers. The Scripture promises that when our prayers are effective, they can accomplish great things. When our focus and perspective are right when we pray - when we are not fretting, fuming, or fearful when we pray - we can see God Almighty move heaven and earth on our behalf.
Nowadays, whenever I am tempted to worry or think negatively about my husband's health problems, I begin thanking and praising the Lord that Joe is in my life, and I appreciate our time together more and more. Perhaps you or your loved ones are facing some daunting circumstances of your own today, and you are wondering if your life will ever be the same. I believe I know how you feel, dear one. And I tell you now that if you will seek God's face with all your heart, and call on Him with a sense of gratitude and humility, He will sustain you with His perfect peace while you wait on Him to do what only He can do!
Prayer: Lord, teach me how to pray effective prayers for myself and my loved ones. Help me to cooperate with You for the building of my faith. Give me a growing passion for Your presence and Your Word. Show me how to pray and stand on Your promises in every situation. Thank You that as I choose to give thanks for all the good in my life, You will fill me with Your peace, and bring Your promises to pass!
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