“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”I Thessalonians 5: 16-18
Dear friends and co-laborers in Christ…
When I hurt so deeply…when there’s so much scar tissue on my heart…when all seems hopeless, is there really any cure? Yes, there is….Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving is one of the five elements that make up the totality of the Christian’s prayer life. It is possibly the most important (I say this about the other four as well) for it is the acknowledgment of a grateful heart that remembers the past mercies of God, His present graces and, by faith, His future blessings. It’s an attitude of gratitude that is energized and sustained by the Spirit of Christ.
I remember vividly Mother Burr visiting us in Florida in the early ‘70’s just after I had become a Christian. She had been in a depressive state of mind, carrying a saddened countenance for several years following the Home-going of Dad Burr in 1963, so I had a doctor friend give her a complete physical exam with blood tests, etc. to determine the extent of her maladies.
After a week or so, the doctor called me to share his findings: “There’s nothing wrong with your mother except for a broken heart—she’s never recovered from the ‘passing’ of your father. I could give her a script for some medicine but what she really needs is much prayer and doses of the Word.”
That evening while doing our devotions, I shared with Mother the doctor’s report without mentioning his solution. Providentially, we were in I Thessalonians 5 focusing on verses 12-28, “Christian Conduct.” As we were reading, praying, and interacting on the application of the above verses, I asked her: “Mother, have you ever thanked God for calling Dad Home?”
After a brief pause, she looked at me with a shocked expression on her face. “Dickie, you don’t know what you’re asking,” she exclaimed. “I loved your father so much and all of this life is so overwhelming for me.” I responded, “Mother, I’ve never walked in your shoes, and I’m very sorry if I’ve been too insensitive, but as I understand this Scripture, we are to give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God for us who are believers. Yes, there will be times of weeping, grieving and mourning, but you’ve been doing this for years, along with taking your medications, and it doesn’t appear that they are improving your wellbeing. Could it be that the solution for your ailing heart is right before us, in God’s Word?”
There was a lengthy pause with much weeping and then she sat up straight and said, “You know, I’ve known these verses since I was a little girl, when I was converted at age 14, but somehow they haven’t come to mind during these dark and depressive years.” There was more sharing. It was getting late, and then we prayed to close out the evening. I’ll never forget Mother’s prayer:
“Lord Jesus, You know I’ve known about these verses for years. However, tonight I want to act upon them by thanking You for the many years You gave me to be with my beloved husband, Howard, and now, and as an act of faith, I thank You for calling him Home. I only ask for grace to grow into Your character and to learn to thank You for all things. In Jesus Name. Amen.”
The next morning, for the first time there was a huge smile across Mother’s face as we sat for breakfast. Her countenance had changed dramatically. A few days later she returned home and was greeted by her 100 year old sister who lived across the street from our homestead: “My, Metta (Mother’s first name) you must have found a good doctor down there in Florida…you look like a new person!
Yes, she was a new person for she had an encounter with our Great Physician who taught her in her latter years of life the power of thanksgiving. In fact, by her own testimony, from that experience in the early ‘70’s until the Lord took her Home (1988), those were the best spiritual years of her life.
You see, thanksgiving lifts us above any and all circumstances of life. And when we live in the context of gratitude, then our lives take on a more winsome and holy fragrance with a peace beyond comprehension. So, what is it that you have not thanked God for?
O Lord, what we know not teach us, what we have not grant us, and what we are not change us.
I was recently diagnosed with a tumor in my bladder, but it was excised successfully, and the pathology report reads: “very favorable…with recurrence unlikely.” Also, a tumor has shown up in the left upper lobe of my lung and will be removed sometime in early December by “radio surgery” commonly referred to as “cyber-knife.” The procedure is non-invasive and will be done on an outpatient basis.
We thank God for our new website in that it will become the principle means for our outreach, since our conferences have been curtailed due to health issues. So, if you haven’t logged on to it yet, you can do so through www.ptam.org. Then send us a note with your thoughts.
In closing we wish you a most blessed Thanksgiving Day (celebrated in the US on 11/28) and are so thankful for your friendship, love, prayers and support over these many years!
To Him be all glory,
Richard A. Burr