Lewis Bayly: A Thanksgiving to be said of one that is recovered from Sickness

10/8/15, by Clement Pulaski

I recently recovered from a rather nasty cold. While I was sick I was reading the excellent devotional The Practice of Piety by Lewis Bayly. Even though my sickness was far from life threatening, any health trouble or physical discomfort is an opportunity for the devil to put thoughts of ingratitude into our minds. As such, it is a time to be especially on our guard and especially mindful of the grace that we have received.

From The Practice of Piety:

O gracious and merciful father, who art the Lord of health and sickness, of life and of death; who killest and makest alive; who bringest down to the grave and raiseth up again; who art the only preserver of all those that trust in thee, I, thy poor and unworthy servant, having now, by experience of my painful sickness, felt the grievousness of misery due unto sin, and the greatness of thy mercy in forgiving sinners, and perceiving with what a fatherly compassion thou hast heard my prayers and restored me to my health and strength again, do here, upon the bended knees of my heart, return, with the thankful leper, to acknowledge thee alone to be the God of my health and salvation; and to give thee praise and glory for my strength and deliverance out of that grievous disease and malady; and for thus turning my mourning into mirth, my sickness into health, and my death into life. My sins deserved punishment, and thou hast corrected me, but hast not given me over unto death. I looked from the day to the night when thou wouldst make an end of me. I did chatter like a crane or a swallow; I mourned as a dove when the bitterness of sickness oppressed me; I lifted up mine eyes unto thee, O Lord, and thou didst comfort me, for thou didst cast all my sins behind thy back, and didst deliver my soul from the pit of corruption; and when I found no help in myself nor in any other creature, saying, I am deprived of the residue of my years, I shall see man no more among the inhabitants of the world, then didst thou restore me to health again, and gavest life unto me; I found thee, O Lord, ready to save me.

And now, Lord, I confess that I can never yield unto thee such a measure of thanks as thou hast for this benefit deserved at my hands. And seeing that I can never be able to repay thy goodness with acceptable works, O that I could with Mary Magdalene testify the love and thankfulness of my heart with abounding tears! O what shall I be able to render unto thee, O Lord, for all these benefits which thou hast bestowed upon my soul! Surely, as in my sickness, when I had nothing else to give thee, I offered Christ and his merits unto thee as a ransom for my sins; so being now restored by thy grace to my health and strength, and having no better thing to give, behold, O Lord, I do here offer up myself unto thee (Rom. xii. 1), beseeching thee so to assist me with thy Holy Spirit, that the remainder of my life may be wholly spent in setting forth thy praise and glory.

O Lord, forgive me my former follies and unthankfulness, that I was no more careful to love thee according to thy goodness, nor to serve thee according to thy will, nor to obey thee according to thy benefits. And seeing thou knowest that of myself I am not sufficient so much as to think a good thought, much less to do that which is good and acceptable in thy sight, assist me with thy grace and Holy Spirit, that I may, in my prosperity as devoutly spend my health in thy service, as I was earnest in my sickness to beg it at thy hands. And suffer me never to forget either this thy mercy in restoring me to my health, or those vows and promises which I have made unto thee in- my sickness. With my new health renew in me, O Lord, a right spirit, which may free me from the slavery of sin, and establish my heart in the service of grace. Work in me a great detestation of all sins which were the causes of thy anger and my sickness; and increase my faith in Jesus Christ, who is the author of my health and salvation. Let thy good Spirit lead me in the way that I should walk; and teach me to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this world, that others, by my example, may think better of thy truth. And sith this time which I have yet to live is but a little respite and small remnant of days which cannot long continue, teach me, O my God, so to number my days that I may apply my heart to that spiritual wisdom which directeth to salvation. And to this end make me more zealous than I have been in religion, more devout in prayer, more fervent in spirit, more careful to hear and profit by the preaching of thy gospel, more helpful to my poor brethren, more watchful over my ways, more faithful in my calling, and every way more abundant in all good works. Let me, in the joyful time of prosperity, fear the evil day of affliction; in the time of health, think on sickness; in the time of sickness, make myself ready for death; and when death approacheth, prepare myself for judgment. Let my whole life be an expression of thankfulness unto thee for thy grace and mercy. And therefore, O Lord, I do here from the very bottom of my heart, together with the thousand thousands of angels, the four beasts, and twenty-four elders, and all the creatures in heaven and on the earth, acknowledge to be due unto thee, O Father, which sittest upon the throne, and to the Lamb, thy Son, who sitteth at thy right hand, and to the Holy Spirit which proceedeth from both, the holy Trinity of persons in Unity of substance, all praise, honour, glory, and power, from this time forth and for evermore. Amen.

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