GIVING THANKS IN ALL THINGS
In addition to abiding in the Lord, we need to give thanks in all things and to pray unceasingly. Here we must first say something about some language problems. Those who read the Bible know that the problems with language come from the tower of Babel. In the Greek text the clause in everything give thanks does not have the notion of blessings as the Chinese translation indicates. The Chinese translators rendered this clause as in everything thank the blessings because, according to its strict sense in Chinese, the word thank is a transitive verb and therefore requires a direct object; there would be no justification for not having a direct object. For this reason the word blessings was added. But such an addition distorts the meaning of this particular clause. In our experience we should not “thank the blessings”; rather, we should thank the Lord Himself. It is not “thanking the blessings”; it is giving thanks.
To pray unceasingly means to use our spirit, to exercise our spirit. For example, we use our feet to walk and our mouth to eat and talk. Likewise, we use our spirit to pray, and when we pray, we use our spirit.
The many years of my speaking for the Lord in serving Him may be divided into several periods. Before 1943 the emphasis of my messages leaned heavily on the truth. I spoke on many truths, such as God’s selection, predestination, sanctification, and justification. Forty-two of the sixty topics in the book entitled Basic Truths in the Bible were written by me in 1943; in the previous year I had spoken on these forty-two topics, resulting in a great revival. When the revival came, I began to suffer persecutions. First, the Japanese put me into prison and tortured me for a month before releasing me. Due to this kind of treatment, after I got out of prison, I became ill with tuberculosis, and I rested in bed for half a year according to my doctor’s charge. At the time of my release the Japanese would not let me go but still required me to report all my movements subsequent to the release. But then when I became sick with tuberculosis, they relented and let me go. After a year my health improved a bit, and I then escaped to Chingtao to rest there for another year and a half until my health was recovered.
During the period of my recuperation, the Lord shined on me, showing me that although my preaching from 1932 to 1942 resulted in a great revival, there was a great shortage of life in my messages. There was much truth but too little life. At that time the Lord showed me the tree of life and that this line runs through the entire Bible. The Bible begins with the tree of life and also ends with the tree of life. The Bible is altogether concerning life. The Lord Jesus said, “I am…the life” (John 14:6); He also said, “I am the true vine” (15:1). Therefore, we can conclude that He is the tree of life. He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly (10:10). This enlightening and seeing caused me to have a great turn.
In 1946 after my health was restored and I was able to travel for the ministry, I went to Nanking. At that time, due to the flow of the revival in Chefoo, Nanking also had a revival. I arrived in Nanking and began to minister, speaking the word of life. I kept speaking from Chefoo and Chingtao to Nanking, then to Shanghai, and eventually to Taiwan and southeast Asia until 1960. For about twenty years I kept speaking on life. But honestly speaking, although I spoke of life there was not much life, because, I feel, I was not that living. Therefore, I prayed, asking the Lord what the problem was and how it could be that I spoke of life yet I was not living.
(Abiding in the Lord to Enjoy His Life, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)