As our Canadian Thanksgiving approaches, I was thinking of something that happened to me years ago when I lived in the north. The story below is from The Spur, my e-mailed devotional column.
A number of years ago I was asked to speak at a women's retreat in Alaska. The church I was attending at the time was tiny - the congregation consisted of about thirty people on a good day. I expected that would be about the size of the group in Alaska. So when I walked into the school where the retreat was being held, I was shocked to find well over two hundred women there. My knees started shaking immediately.
I was scheduled to speak in front of this whole group on the first evening. It was an experience I have never forgotten for many reasons, chief among them the amazing stories I heard from other women that night. A large number of them were native women from small villages scattered throughout the State and into the Yukon Territory. One woman's story has
stayed with me over the years.
I don't remember her name, though I can still see her face. It was round and full of life. Her large dark eyes were earnest, but her smile was broad. She was from a large family, she explained, and she was the sole survivor. Everyone else - her parents, her brothers, her sisters, even a few aunts and uncles, had died of Tuberculosis. When she began showing signs of the disease, she was sent to the sanitarium. She was terrified because in her mind, if you
went there, you did not come out alive.
As her disease progressed, she became too weak to get out of bed alone. The doctors told her she had a severely damaged lung and needed surgery. Everything was scheduled. The night before the operation, she decided to pray. She had been told that God loved her and that He healed the sick. Her prayer was short and to the point. She said she was staring out the window
at big fluffy clouds when God told her, "Give thanks before you receive."
It seemed a strange request. She was bitter about the loss of her family and other things that had happened in her life, but she knew she needed to do what God had said. She began thanking him for everything she could think of - the family she had known so briefly, the people who had taken her in, the doctors and nurses who cared for her now. She fell asleep thanking God.
The next morning she got out of bed to use the washroom. She didn't realize what she had done until the nurse came and chided her for doing it. She realized she was not short of breath. She had no pain. In fact, she felt better than she ever had in her life. She told the nurse she didn't want the surgery. The nurse got the doctor. The doctor took x-rays. Then he took them again. Then he told her the surgery had been cancelled. Her lungs were perfectly healthy.
Give thanks before you receive. A good motto for us all, no matter whether we are healthy or ill; it's a good motto to live by. ===================================================
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