Pastoral Relief and Retreat

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Wethersfield, CT, United States
I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Thankful Life



James 5:13-20 ESV
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
            My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

You will forgive me a little foolishness this morning, but I have great reason to give thanks to the Lord today.  Two days ago I had Jama take me to Elliot Hospital in Manchester, NH because I was having a pain in my abdomen that pointed to gallbladder.  I have truly never had pain as severe as this.  Yesterday they took the gall bladder out, and I’m going home today.  Pretty awesome that medical science can do such things.

This experience gives me a whole new appreciation of James 5:13-20. 

Is anyone among you suffering?  Let him pray.  When I arrived at the hospital, the woman checking me in asked if I wanted the chaplain to visit.   “I AM the chaplain<” I said,  And then I explained that I’m a minister and could easily call the entire spiritual leadership of Rockingham County, and they would come.  Of course, I didn’t want the chaplain to come.  Why?   Because I don’t know the chaplain.  I wouldn’t know what to say.  It would be awkward.  Right?  But passage says, “Let him pray.”  I sure could have used someone to pray with.

Is anyone cheerful?  Let him sing praise.  I certainly was not cheerful through most of Tuesday and Wednesday.  Our Thanksgiving plans had been ruined.  I wasn’t going to get to see my sister-in-law and her family.  I had such a terrible pain in my side that I told the nurse in no uncertain terms that I was going to continue to yell “Ow” until they scheduled the operation.  I was annoying the staff and the patients, she said.  I told her I didn’t care, and they were going to simply have to put up with the noise.  It HURT.  So how was I to sing praise? 

Three things happened that confirmed it is possible in the midst of suffering to sing praise.  The first was that each time I screamed out, “O God!  Help me!”  it seemed that was when the folks came with the drugs.  Pretty awesome.  Then there was the loving care I’ve gotten from Jama.  She had to be at work Wednesday morning at 10, and didn’t leave the hospital until after 3 AM.  Then, yesterday afternoon I got a visit from Bill, Graham, and Jason.  They are three generations of the same family.  Bill is “my Elder” from when we served the same church together.  They came and we chatted for a while.  Then, before they left, I asked Bill to pray for me.  It was role reversal to the max, since I’ve been going to a series of hospitals and hospices to pray with his wife.  She died just three weeks ago today.  Yes, I certainly sang praises as these dear ones just decided to stop by and pray with me.  Then, today I was cleaning up the room in anticipation of heading home at 1 pm.  There on the night table was a message from a dear saint I probably haven’t seen in 5 years.  He was part of my youth ministry back in the 1980s, and now lives in Hampton, NH.  He just stopped by to see how I was doing.  More to praise God for.

 About the only thing I haven’t done is call the Elders to come and anoint me with oil.  But that’s alright.  Through their prayers and yours, and through the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, this is turning out for my deliverance.  God is so faithful.  My son and daughter-in-law have come up from Boston to spend thanksgiving with us.  I’ve had many friends enquire after my health on email and IM.  I even commiserated with my 92 year old mother about what it feels like to have a gall bladder attacck.  What a blessed life I lead.

May the Lord lead you to the Thankful Life.  I don’t think there is a better way to live. 

Jon

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