“An apple a say keeps the doctor away!”
I have always wondered about this expression. In Europe, where doctors often visit their patients in their home, this saying may make sense, but here in North America, where lingering lengthy hours in waiting rooms is the only way to see a doctor, it doesn’t seem as appropriate!
An apple does contain a lot of iron, and it can be very healthy for you; but it certainly isn’t a “sure cure” for disease. I learned this pretty early on. When I was a kid I tried eating apples every day, and I still caught colds and I still got the flu. I learned that an apple makes a healthy projectile, however; and this would, indeed, chase any doctor away! Maybe that’s what the expression is referring to!
There is one thing I learned as a child that DOES make for a healthier, less-prone-to-disease body: Gratitude and laughter! I used to go and visit elderly people in the hospital. I would always give them a big hug, then I would share my own rendition of this famous saying: “A smile a day keeps the doctor away!” It was funny how a big smile would always start to replace the look of fear or worry or pain that had been there when I entered the room . . .
You can’t help but smile when you are grateful for something. But how can you feel grateful all of the time? Especially when you are in the midst of heavy trials?
The answer is simple, friends: we can only feel grateful in times of trouble when we make the effort to notice the mercy God bestows on us! This is a Biblical principle actually: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess 5:16-18 NIV)!
I will always remember my oldest son’s prayer. He was barely two years old at the time. He had a fever and could not go to church, and I had volunteered to stay home with him. It was a nice spring day, and we decided to take a little stroll in our backyard. All of a sudden he dropped to his knees, folded his little hands together and uttered the following prayer: “Thank you Jesus! Amen!”
Have you ever noticed how everything brightens up when we are thankful? The problem is that gratitude is a rare ingredient in our society. But this isn’t unique to our day and age. Even in Jesus’ day people had a gratitude problem! For example, Jesus healed ten people who were suffering from leprosy. They were the outcasts of society, destined to a life of begging and solitude. One would think that all ten would be grateful to Jesus, but only one came back to say thanks! “One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him-and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.'” (Luke 17:15-19 NIV)
Isn’t it interesting that Jesus connects gratitude with faith, and faith with healing? Is it possible that our prayers are falling on deaf ears because we are not inclined to be thankful?
Isn’t it interesting that when Paul and Silas were imprisoned, they were set free by God Himself after praising the Lord? (See Acts 16: 25, 26)
Isn’t it interesting that Jonah was freed from the belly of a huge fish only after he was offering thanksgiving to the Lord? (See Jonah 2:9)
Isn’t it revealing that Jesus’ prayers started by praising God? (See Matthew 6: 9)
Isn’t it amazing that the apostle Paul, in the face of hardship, recommended us to always be thankful? “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph 5:19-20 NIV) The writer of Hebrews tells us the same thing: “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise-the fruit of lips that confess his name.” (Heb 13:15-16 NIV)
Friends, stop in your tracks. Take time to meditate on all the blessings God has bestowed on you. Meditate on the price of your salvation. Reflect on how Jesus suffered so that we could enjoy eternal life. Reflect on how God has made us His sons and daughters! Wonder in awe at the fact that God savors the time we spend with Him, at the fact that He sees our relationship with Him as vital. Contemplate the universe with its multitudes of planets, stars and comets. Meditate on the wonders of the world – the multitude of beautiful flowers, the incredible animals, the many stately waterfalls, the regal mountains, and the powerful oceans. Reflect on your life. Discover the multiple times that God has come through for you! The list could go on and on!
And when you take the time to contemplate all of this, you can’t help but be grateful to the God who cares so much for you! You can’t help but fall head-over-heels in love with the one who is called Jesus Christ!
A few days ago I was sitting in the gymnasium of a public elementary school, watching a talent show. Don’t kids have amazing abilities? What really astonished me, however, was when a nine year old girl took the microphone and started to sing praises to her Heavenly Father. The audience immediately went deathly silent. They didn’t know how to respond! It wasn’t long however, before they joined in by clapping to the rhythm of the song. Soon some began to cheer and others reverently raised their arms. Most of them didn’t realize what they were doing, but unknowingly they were praising God! And as a result, I felt God’s Spirit among us. God was revealed to a gymnasium full of people who didn’t know Him because one nine-year-old girl decided to praise Him in front of her classmates.
There is power in thankfulness! There is power in gratitude! There is power in praising the One who took the time to save us from certain death!
Will you join me and praise Him daily through prayers and actions?
“A praise a day will surely keep the doctor away!”
(To access the entire “Important Elements of Prayer” devotional series, please click here.)