“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22 (NIV)
We sat in an empty waiting room for hours, anxious for an update on my sister’s surgery. When the doctor finally entered the room, the news wasn’t good.
He explained how her medical situation was worse than expected, and the surgery more extensive than originally thought. He then proceeded to explain a difficult, lengthy recovery and how her life would be changed forever.
You could’ve heard a pin drop under the weight of silence and sorrow. As the doctor walked away, my family and I just sat there — our eyes filled with tears, and our hearts filled with worry.
But the silence came to an abrupt halt when another group entered the room with lots of talking and chaos. I tried to tune them out, immersed in my negative feelings … until I heard the name of Jesus spoken several times. In that moment, when fear and anxiety hung heavy in the air, the mention of Jesus’ name seemed like music to my ears.
As I lifted my head to see who had spoken His name, I saw a beautiful elderly woman with snow-white hair across the room. She was sitting in a wheelchair praying aloud for her husband. Despite the fact that she, too, was in this hospital waiting room, waiting to receive uncertain news about a loved one, she glowed with optimism and had a spirit of encouragement. Joy and positivity dripped from each of her words.
She eventually looked up and noticed me staring at her. I quickly averted my eyes, hoping to avoid any interaction. But to my dismay, she immediately hollered across the room, “Hey, honey! How are you?” I had no choice but to acknowledge her and manage a pitiful smile. “I’m fine, thank you.” I hoped that would be the end of our conversation, but she had other plans.
Before I knew it, she’d rolled her wheelchair across the room and stopped right at my feet. I tried to gather what was left of my personal space by sliding my chair back, but it was already against the wall. I was stuck.
She leaned in and began telling me all about her husband in surgery, but I wasn’t in the mood for small talk. Honestly, these details about someone I didn’t know felt kind of bothersome, but soon, something strange began to happen — her joy and optimism began to feel contagious.
Her smile stretched ear to ear while happiness exuded from her face. She shared what a wonderful man her husband was. I found myself hanging on her every word, secretly wishing I could write down each hopeful, uplifting comment and holy promise she spoke. Her faith-inspired, cheery disposition was like a soothing balm pouring out of her heart right into the empty spaces of mine.
But then, she said something that took my breath away. Something I will never, ever forget as long as I live.
“Honey, I hope God blesses your sister. And if He can only save one person today, I hope it is her. My husband is 85 years old and has lived a long and fruitful life.”
Huge tears began to slide down my face. How could she even consider the thought of putting a total stranger’s life ahead of the life of her precious husband? And without even hesitating? I was stunned and speechless.
She then took my hands, wrapped her cold, thin, frail fingers around mine and began to pray out loud for my sister. Suddenly, it felt as if we were the only two people in the waiting room, and we had an audience of only One. Tears dripped from my eyes onto my lap as she prayed. After she said amen I thanked her and prayed for her husband in return. Then, she disappeared as quickly as she had appeared.
In today’s key verse, Solomon assures us a cheerful heart is good medicine for the soul, the mind and the body. Positive thoughts lead to a positive outlook which leads to a positive heart and a positive life. Negative thoughts lead to a broken spirit which impacts our minds, emotions and our lives.
You see, negativity holds the power to drain our strength and crush our spirits like dried up bones. Optimism has the power to do just the opposite … positive thinking leads to positive living.
This amazing woman whose name I’ll never know was living proof of the value tucked into Solomon’s wisdom. She intentionally filled her heart with joy in Christ, instead of sadness in circumstances. This equipped her to have cheerful thoughts, a positive outlook and an unsinkable faith, no matter what.
That day, I walked out of the hospital with a changed heart and a more cheerful spirit. I’d seen a glimpse of Jesus in the face of a frail woman. Her optimism and joy kept her heart cheerful and brought healing to the heavy hearts of others. Including mine.
Lord, help me have the strength to choose to be cheerful and full of joy, despite negative circumstances. Heal my heart and outlook with Your joy, and use me as a cheerful light in this world filled with negativity. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 15:13, “A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.” (NASB)
If you long to develop a more cheerful heart even in the face of negative circumstances, purchase Tracie Miles’ new book, Unsinkable Faith: God-Filled Strategies for Transforming the Way You Think, Feel and Live.
Sign up for Tracie’s free, “5 Day Optimist Challenge!” Visit her blog for more information on how to jump start your life of faith-based optimism today!
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
How would your heart change if you were intentionally more cheerful despite your circumstances?
How might your cheer — based on joy from Christ — be contagious to those around you?
© 2017 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.