Editorial: Thank God before you see
A friend of mine had just given a precious testimony of the Lord’s miracle healing power in her life in answer to so many prayers. This was a great testimony, but one point of it was said in such a way that I knew it would offend some people if repeated in the same way. I determined to gently mention it if I had the opportunity.
A few days later, as we talked on the phone, I shared how beautiful her overall testimony had been and how so many of us were praising the Lord. Then I gently mentioned my “small” concern. She didn’t take it very well, to say the least, and proceeded to tell me several things I had done that she didn’t appreciate.
At first I was surprised because I was only trying to help. Then, because I felt she was wrong, I became somewhat defensive. We had an “intense” conversation, even though neither of us lost control or became outwardly angry. We weren’t really “of one accord” as we hung up.
The Lord convicted me that I had been too defensive and needed to apologize the next time we talked. I did so, but rather than offer any responding apology, she asked me if I’d confessed my sin of “pride” in that situation. That really shocked me, but I decided not to respond negatively. As the call ended, we, again, were not really reconciled.
This continued for a couple of weeks until I learned that my friend had reported her side of how I had supposedly treated her badly to a leader in another conference that I deeply respect. That really seemed unfair and upset me.
I woke up very early the next morning and found myself struggling with the Lord. I had been asked to lead in an anointing service for an ill friend and wanted my heart to be clean before God. I confessed the self and pride that was troubling me and sought Jesus for peace and forgiveness. But I did not feel peace and continued to struggle.
Finally, I put my hand on several Bible promises about forgiveness, cleansing, and peace, like Philippians 4:6, 7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (NKJV).
I decided to follow the “ABCs of prayer” by asking, believing, and claiming the answer in advance of seeing or feeling it. So I thanked the Lord in faith that I had been forgiven and that I already had peace because He had promised. As I waited in silence I still didn’t “feel” peace but kept thanking Him that I had it.
At that very moment (before 6:30 a.m.), my phone rang. It was the other person calling me. The Lord had awakened her very early, too and convicted her to call me, ask forgiveness, and truly reconcile. I, too, apologized, and what joyful reconciliation. We were really “of one accord.”
I love this quote; it is so true: “For the pardon of sin, for the Holy Spirit, for a Christlike temper, for wisdom and strength to do His work, for any gift He has promised, we may ask; then we are to believe that we receive, and return thanks to God that we have received.
“We need look for no outward evidence of the blessing. The gift is in the promise, and we may go about our work assured that what God has promised He is able to perform, and that the gift, which we already possess, will be realized when we need it most.”*
As we begin this New Year, we need to enter the “upper room experience” in the book of Acts that led to and fol- lowed the Day of Pentecost. We all need the power and wholeness those early believers discovered. Prayer, the Word, forgiveness, assurance, being of one accord, joy, praise, and a focus on His mission by the Spirit took the gospel to the whole world in one generation. As leaders we need to share this kind of comprehensive health ministry that includes the spiritual, mental, physical, and social aspects of our being.
Don MackIntosh leads off this month’s Ministry, discussing excellent research that has demonstrated the great benefits of forgiving and being forgiven. Other authors focus on different aspects of this comprehensive health ministry. John said, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2, NKJV). Whatever your challenges or needs, claim His promises and thank Him before you see!
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* Ellen G. White, Education (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1952), 258.