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“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

Hearing that Dad had been re-admitted to ICU with pneumonia and fluid on his lungs six days after having open heart surgery did not seem like a time to rejoice as the verse above instructs – especially when I lived far away and could not  be there with him during this set-back. Time to pray without ceasing? Yes. Definitely. Time to give thanks in all these circumstances? Actually, yes, and as I considered the many reasons I had to be thankful, I realized that, actually, it was a time to rejoice, too. 

 

I was thankful Dad had been able to have surgery and especially thankful he survived the procedure. Surgery had been risky for him. I was thankful I could go to Indiana and spend time with Dad before surgery. Neither of us said it, but we both knew it could have been the last time we saw each other on this side of heaven. I was thankful for his faith and acceptance of God’s will for his life. 

 

As Dad strives to recover, I’m thankful  that Carolyn loves him and takes good care of him; and I am very thankful for the doctors, nurses and caregivers at Community North Heart Hospital in Indianapolis. They’re skills, care and treatment have been excellent!

 

I’m also thankful for everyone who has prayed, encouraged, cared and offered support for Dad. I am beyond blessed to know so many kind and caring people! 

 

With all those reasons to be thankful, how could I not also feel like rejoicing? 

 

In times like these, when we worry about loved ones or go through personal struggles, our greatest reason to rejoice is for the love, hope and joy we have in Jesus Christ. 

 

We can also rejoice that each day is a new day, a God-given gift, bringing new mercies, new opportunities, new possibilities, and new hope. Sometimes it’s hard to feel those things in tough times, but these are truths – promises from God – that we can hold onto.

 

Today I have a new reason to rejoice and give thanks. It’s Day 19 after open heart surgery, and Dad seems to have finally stabilized. (Thank You, Lord!)  He is being moved to rehab today.  Dad is 85, still weak, and not completely “his old self” yet, so rehab and recovery will take some time, but in response to prayers of many, it appears that God has blessed Dad with the time he needs. I can certainly give thanks and rejoice about that!   

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Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  – Romans 12:12

My 85-year old dad had open heart surgery six days ago.  The procedure went well – praise the Lord – but he has been in constant pain since.  Consequently, he has been on various pain medicines, some that cause him to be in a “drug fog.”  He becomes groggy, slow to speak, wants to communicate but can’t think of the words he needs to say, and sometimes becomes confused and agitated.  When he is awake, Dad pleads for us to help him with the pain, then he seeks God’s help saying, “Lord, help me.  Help me, Lord.”  He does the same when he is asleep and in a “drug fog,” saying  aloud, “Lord, help me.”

Did you catch what I just said?  Dad calls upon the Lord when he’s awake, and he also speaks aloud to God when he’s sleeping and even when his mind is altered by medication.   Dad’s default is prayer!

It’s not unusual to cry out to God for help when we are desperate or struggling.  Even those who don’t keep a relationship with God will do that at times, but to call upon the name of the Lord in one’s sleep and when one is not able to have conscious thoughts is inspiring.

I thought about this as I drove home to Charlotte from Indianapolis.  Would I be the same way?  I pray when I am awake and conscious, but where do my subconscious thoughts go?  If I were crying out in my sleep or under the effects of medications, what would I say?  Do I keep such a close and constant relationship with God that I would call upon the Lord to help me?

Jesus prayed.   The Bible tells of many times when Jesus prayed – often separating himself from the crowds, and even the disciples, to pray.  He needed to connect with the Father.  Jesus prayed to honor God, intercede on behalf of others, and seek discernment and strength.  He pleaded with God, agonized with God, and cried out to God in pain and suffering.  His default was prayer.

Luke 3:21 (Jesus prays after His baptism during which time the Holy Spirit descended upon Him), Mark 1:35 (Jesus rose early, while it was still dark, and departed from the others to pray, spending time with God before preaching to the crowds), Luke 11:1-4 (while Jesus prayed, the disciples approached and asked Him to teach them to pray, and Jesus taught them The Lord’s prayer), Luke 9:18 (Jesus was praying alone),  John 17 – The High Priestly Prayer (Jesus honors the Father, prays for Himself, His disciples, and all believers).

Perhaps the most well known prayer of Jesus is recorded in the Gospel writings of Matthew 26:36-56, Mark 14:32-52, Luke 22:39-53 and John 18:1-11 when Jesus went to Garden of Gethsemane to pray (“as it was his custom to do”). After their Passover meal (The Last Supper), Jesus took the disciples with him to the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed in preparation for his arrest and crucifixion, when He would bear the sins of all mankind by allowing Himself to be a sacrifice for the sins of all.  At times Jesus was in such agony while praying that he was sweating drops of blood.

Luke 23:34 Jesus prays to ask the Father for forgiveness for those who mock and crucify Him.

Each Gospel records that Jesus’ final words were to the Father before taking His last breath.  Even in death, His default was prayer.

In Mark 10:30 Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.”     He remained one with the Father through prayer.

My dad went into open heart surgery weak and frail.  His surgeon said he was “very fragile” so they would take him through recovery “slow and easy.”   Because of this, his teams of caregivers were amazed when Dad became ahead of schedule in recovery!  They couldn’t explain it, but I could.  I knew it was because of his faith and prayers, and the prayers of many others on his behalf (thank you Facebook family and friends who prayed for him!).

Dad has a long road of recovery ahead of him, so prayers are still appreciated.  I am thankful for my dad’s faith and the opportunity I had to observe that his default is prayer.  The Bible says that Jesus is still praying for us, sitting at the right hand of God the Father, Almighty, interceding on our behalf. (Romans 8:34, Mark 16:19, Acts 7:55, Hebrews 12:2) We can all be encouraged and have hope through Jesus because His default is still prayer.  Praise be to God, and thank You, Jesus!

Lord Jesus, thank You for teaching us to pray and for defaulting to prayer on our behalf.  Please help me set my default to prayer, too.  In Your precious name I pray, Amen.  

UPDATE ON MY DAD (May 2, 2018):  Dad was taken by ambulance  from rehab back to hospital with pneumonia and possible blood clot in his lung.  Dad is at peace with God and accepting of God’s will for his life, but those of us who love him pray that it be God’s will to grant him healthy days on this side of heaven.

Want to read the referenced verses, learn more about Jesus, or read other Books of the Bible?   Go to http://www.BibleGateway.com    You can look up scripture by verse or topic (I searched “Jesus prayed”), do research, and even hear the Bible read to you!

 

 

 

 

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