James 5:13-14 – two verses I will never forget
That’s what I did a few weeks ago. My father had a major heart attack, and when they got him stabilized they told him he would need open heart surgery. But there was one big problem: He would have to wait for the blood thinner that kept him safe during his angiogram to get out of his system before they could operate, a total of five additional days in the hospital.
To know my father is to know that he is the one who takes care of us; he is very active and patience is not one of his strong suits. He had never had surgery before. Sitting in a hospital thinking of his operation for five days was not in his game plan. It was Labor Day weekend and he asked the doctor, “Can I just go home from Sunday to Wednesday and come back for surgery?”
The doctor said an emphatic “NO!” Dad’s main artery was one of several that were blocked and the doctor knew that if he left he probably wouldn’t survive.
That was Thursday, and by Friday night we had all hit a wall. He was tired and had decided that he didn’t think he was going to make it to the surgery date.
About a month ago I had spoken at a women’s retreat. I spent the whole weekend with an amazing group of ladies, my sisters in Christ. We worshiped together and theirs was a pure, heartfelt worship that always started with praising God for who He is, what He is and what He is capable of. I know that praising God first in your prayer and worship is always good and right, but they took it to a whole new level.
James 5:13-14, NIV
Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call on the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.
On that Friday night, I was emotionally spent, trying to be strong for the man who was always strong for me, but I was ready to crumble. I decided I needed to call on my fellow believers, especially my sisters in Christ. I went out to the hospital hallway and called Karen. She didn’t answer but I left her a message and just stood in the hallway and quietly sobbed. A wonderful woman who was pushing her mom down the hospital hallway in a wheelchair stopped me and said, “Do you need a hug?” I nodded, we hugged, and she said, “It will be alright, baby girl. Your daddy’s gonna be all right.”
Shortly after that Karen called back. She reminded me of God’s promises, all that He is capable of, the magnitude of His love, and prayed with me over the phone with a heaping dose of praise and specific requests on our family’s behalf. She sent a prayer request to all our other sisters and they prayed. We shared the most difficult prayer you can release to God:
They lifted me up all week. My specific prayer requests to them were sent with the tone that God is good; He is worthy to be praised. There were pastors, friends and family visiting and many others praying near and far. It was so comforting to know I was being held up at a time I didn’t know if I could spiritually stand on my own.
That night ended peacefully. With family visiting, great hospital staff, and the start of football season, the next four days were good. Dad said it turned out better than he expected.
Our daughter had seen a phrase on the Web that she wrote down and put on her door last year. After looking at it day in and day out I didn’t know how literally relevant the phrase would be. It said, “If there are no doors open, praise Him from the hallway”.
Dad came out of surgery just fine after having five bypasses. That night, while he was recovering in ICU, I told him I’d be sitting in the chair near him praying for him. He pulled my hand and I leaned in close. “Do you know that prayer works?” he said. I answered, “I do.”
I am grateful Dad made it through. But sometimes God doesn’t answer our prayers, even of praise, this way. I don’t know if we will ever know why this side of heaven. I do know one thing: When you are in the dark hallway, not knowing where to turn, lean on others to lift you up in prayer. I thank God every day for my sisters in Christ. If asked about their part in our events, all credit will be appropriately given as “Praise God, to Him be the glory! AMEN!”
Tell me in the comments below about a time you were able to praise God in a difficult situation.
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