On December 9, 1991, I was facing the first of 32 radiation treatments for vocal chord cancer. I had preached for 37 years since feeling God's call on my life in March, 1954. Before I answered God's call to preach, I taught and coached for 2 yrs. so my voice was very important to me in my calling.
I wrote the following before my first radiation treatment:
"Lord, I'm having trouble with this and I'm scared. I know what I've preached, but now I'm trying to practice what I preached. As I took a walk this morning down by the lake,
I marveled at the beauty of your creation.
You reminded me of several things and I list only two:
1) In Gethsemane, You suffered so very much for a purpose.
God's Will is not always easy, but it is always best!
2) You are the Creator and You have a wonderful plan for Your creation.
The Scripture that I read today (Romans 8:28-29) says that 'all things are working together for good, to conform us unto the likeness of Jesus'. I know that You saved me and called me and if this is what it takes to conform me to Christ, I'm ready."
All the way through the 'radiation journey', we tried to stay positive and to give 'Thanks' that we were in God's Hands!
After the last treatment on January 24, 1992, I wrote the following:
'I was encouraged by II Cor. 2:14:
"Now, thanks be unto God Who always causes us to triumph in Christ."
My study of Joseph was encouraging as I read about all he went through.
His conviction expressed to his brothers was:
'You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.'
God weaved and worked all that happened to Joseph into a beautiful life!
I realized that my body, soul and spirit needed a retreat and rest.
There is no music in a 'rest' in our hymns, but there is the 'making of music' in it.
This was a time of rest for me.
Psalm 37:23 also spoke to me:
"The steps of a good person are ordered by the Lord."
The cancer team said that though my neck was still quite red and swollen (inside and out), all had gone well.
Dr. Cobb who found the cancer and recommended treatment said,
"Everything looks great and there is no sign of the cancer."
Praise the Lord and all Glory to God!
We came away with these thoughts from very 'Thankful Hearts':
1) God is still the Great Physician and sometimes He heals directly from His Throne in response to Prayer and Faith.
Other times, He chooses to work His miracles through humans and their God-given skills and dedications.
2) Attitude is extremely important for whatever is happening in our lives!
Otherwise why did Jesus begin His Sermon on the Mount with the 'Blessed Attitudes'?
3) One day at a time....and make the most of each day!
Look for the Glory of God in creation and in other things...and in people.
4) Pray as if everything depends on God....and get the best help you can get from modern medicine.
One of the things that helped during this 'journey' was knowing that my Dr. also believed in Prayer.
5) A network of support was VERY precious, from family, friends and church families!
We rec'd over 600 cards, with 300 of them being from our church family...
First Baptist Church of Quanah, Texas where I was pastoring at that time.
If God prompts you to phone or send a card to someone, please do it as it means SO much. (You may have experienced it yourself)
6) 'Comfort-Comparison' was one of the first thoughts that God gave me when I was told that it was cancer.
I was so much better off than many others and the cancer was in a place where complete radiation could take place.
Also, the cancer was caught in the early part of the 2nd stage, for which we were MOST thankful.
I realized how fortunate I was to have spiritual healing from salvation and the love of family and friends!
Whatever your situation might be, you are probably better off with it in the USA than many other places in the world.
Truly God is our Jehovah-Jireh, our Provider!
For the balance of this paper, let me share 'Gratitude - Attitude' with thoughts from Thanks-Living EVERY day.
1) Paul wrote a book on 'Joy' (Philippians) while in prison and chapter 4:4 and 6 says:
"Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say, Rejoice! Don't be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, WITH THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God."
I'll not list all that Paul went through, but here are a few:
a) In prison without his freedom
b) In winter, without his coat
c) In court without friends
d) In poverty without aid
Yet in his heart, he ALWAYS had a hymn of Thanksgiving.
In the end, he was killed, but they never killed his 'gratitude' or the effects of his memory and his writings.
Please don't let anyone....nor anything....kill your joy and your gratefulness!
Paul identified with the following attitude (and so should we):
When Bill Bray heard someone telling a long story of troubles endured and sorrows suffered, he exclaimed,
"Bless the Lord! I've had my trials and troubles. The Lord has given me both vinegar and honey, but he has given me vinegar with a teaspoon and honey with a dipper."
2) The finest test of character is seen in the amount (and power) of gratitude we have.
Every virtue divorced from Thankfulness is 'crippled' and limps along the spiritual road.
3) Because of 'thankless-ness', a mother's phone may never ring...nor her mailbox frequented by letters!!
Two of my brothers came to visit us when I pastored in Kona, Hawaii. La Moyne said that there was one special moment that remains in her memory of that time. She recalled seeing us (3 grown men) sitting around our kitchen table as we looked through picture postcards, choosing which card each would send to our Mom.
La Moyne commented about how faithful I had always been to write my Mom every Monday morning! That was a habit that I started while I was in the Army and looking back, I am SO thankful that I did, as my Mom died in 1990.
4) Shakespeare wrote:
"I hate ingratitude more in mankind than lying, vainness, babbling, drunkenness or any trait or vice whose corruption inhabits our frail blood."
and....."How sharper than a serpent's tooth is an ungrateful spirit."
Another poet wrote:
"Blow, blow thou winter wind....thou are so unkind as man's ingratitude."
To express Gratitude and Thankfulness is the heart's highest duty....
and the first response of Love.
Also, unless the vast 'Music of Gratitude' rolls through your years, life will become a mournful monotony...or jangling discord...and you will miss life's central melody.
My favorite hymn at Thanksgiving is:
'Count Your Blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done."
Please read the following Scriptures:
I Thess. 5:16-22
These will help you to have Gratitude in your heart and life.
Have a thoughtful, thankful life as you enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas EVERY day...because of Jesus!
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