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Thanks Living

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By Femi Aribisala

God asked me to go and pray for a man called Kehinde who was dying of cancer. I automatically assumed he would get up from his deathbed immediately I prayed for him. But he did not.

However, the man was convinced he was healed. So convinced, in fact, that he decided to rise up and walk there and then; only to discover he could not.

Two weeks later, his parents sent for me again. They claimed Kehinde seemed to get better after I prayed for him. But now, he had become much worse. Could I come and pray for him again.

I raised objections with God: “Why did you not heal him the first time you sent me? What is the point of my going back there again? Why do you even need me to go and pray for him? You are God; you can heal him without anybody having to pray for him?”

“Give him this message from me,” says the Lord. “If Satan can’t steal his joy, he cannot keep his goods.”

Rejoicing in the Lord

I gave this strange message to the cancer patient, then spent the next two hours singing praise songs to God with him and the members of his family. Two weeks later, the message came that Kehinde had gone to be with the Lord.

After this, God addressed the flagging issue of my faith. “Femi,” he said, “sing this song:” “I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart, I will enter his courts with praise, I will say this is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice for he has made me glad.”

The message became crystal clear. I was not sent to tell Kehinde to rise up and walk. I was sent to prepare him to meet the Lord face-to-face. Even though on the outside he was still riddled with cancer, on the inside the Lord had made him every whit whole. Therefore, he should enter the Lord’s gate with thanksgiving, and enter his courts with praise.

How was I to know, if the Lord had not instructed me, that even a physically dying cancer-ridden patient should be loud in giving thanks to the Lord? But of course, we are so instructed in the scriptures: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Take note, however, we don’t give thanks for everything. Nobody should give thanks for having cancer. But we are required to give thanks in everything. This means we should not stop giving thanks if faced with the ordeal of cancer. We should continue to give thanks because we have already received something that cannot be diminished or eradicated by cancer.

What can that possibly be?

Jesus says: “These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

The joy of the Lord

God did something so wonderful in my life. Even now, I cannot remember exactly what it was. So, I thanked him and praised him profusely for it. I thanked him and praised him and thanked him and praised him. I got up in the middle of the night and thanked him some more. And suddenly, the Holy Spirit spoke to me: “Femi,” he said, “what are you thanking me for? “What is it that I have done to elicit such an outpouring of thanksgiving from you?”

Immediately, my fire went out because God poured cold water on it. Whatever I was thanking him for so effusively was insignificant relative to what I should be thanking him for. I was thanking him for something of temporal significance that he had done for me on earth. But the great work he had done for me was eternal in the heavens. (2 Corinthians 5:1).

The eternal, and not the temporal, must be the subject of our thanks. That means we must always rejoice and be thankful for the salvation of Jesus Christ. Accordingly, Paul says: “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4).

Jesus himself was at pains to explain this to his disciples who were so excited at having authority over demons. He said to them: “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:19-20).

Nothing compares to salvation. Everything else is rubbish; insignificant. Paul used to boast of his zeal in obeying the law of Moses, But Jesus gave him a new understanding.

He says: “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him.” (Philippians 3:7-9).

The joy of the Lord is the joy of salvation. Jesus says: “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10). The joy of salvation is the only thing worth rejoicing for. It is the one thing for which we shall forever give thanks. Not for a new car, or for a new house, or even for a new baby. Nothing comes anywhere close to salvation,

Thus, after David sinned with Bathsheba, he pleaded with God in his prayer of repentance: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” (Psalm 51:12).

Confidence in the spirit
Likewise, Paul writes about the redeemed of the Lord: “We are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” (Philippians 3:3).

We have no confidence in our weight, our beauty, our intelligence or our wealth. Moreover, we have no confidence in anything man-made or in any work of man. We rejoice only in Christ Jesus and in nothing else and no one else because Christ is all and in all. (Colossians 3:11).

So, I expected Kehinde to be healed temporally in the body, but God healed him eternally in the spirit. He must rejoice because the eternal is far superior to the temporal. To realise the eternal, he must have no confidence in the flesh. To realise the eternal, he must ignore the cancer in his flesh and be thankful for his spiritual healing.

Jesus healed ten lepers, but only one leper came back to give thanks. Then he said something pregnant with meaning: “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?’ And he said to him, ‘Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:17-19).

The other nine lepers were only healed in the flesh. Only the one who came back to give thanks was healed spiritually and eternally.

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