Proverbs 17:22 (New International Version)
"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones".
Jerry is the kind of guy you love to meet in the supermarket. He always has a kind word, a funny joke, or, at the very least, a smile. It doesn't take much to bring on that smile. Jerry's happy if all of the wheels on his grocery cart are going in the same direction. If you ask him how he's doing, he's likely to reply, "If I were doing any better, I'd be twins!"
Not many restaurant managers have waiters follow them from one franchise to the next, but Jerry does. They love his attitude. A natural motivator, Jerry can tell if you're having a tough day. "Look on the bright side," he'll say. "If the sun's in your eyes, you sneeze more. It's good for you."
One day a friend said, "I don't get it, Jerry. You can't be positive all the time. How do you do it?"
Jerry replied, "Each morning I wake up and say to myself, 'Jerry, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood.' I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens. I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complain I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side."
"Yeah, right," the friend protested. "It's not that easy."
"Oh yes, it is," said Jerry. "Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the rest, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people will affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or a bad mood. It's your choice how you live life."
One day ]erry left the back door of his restaurant open, not knowing how his theory would be put to the ultimate test.
Three thieves walked through the door that day and held Jerry up at gunpoint. While trying to open the safe, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped from the combination lock. The robbers panicked. And shot him.
]erry was rushed to the local trauma center. After eighteen hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, he was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body. Later, when his friend asked him how he was doing, ,]erry replied, "If I were am better. I'd be twins ...wanna see my scars?" The friend declined, but asked. "Tell me, what went through your mind during the robbery?"
"The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door." Replied Jerry. "Then, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or I could choose to die. I chose to live."
"Weren't you scared?" Asked the friend.
Yes, Jerry was scared. "But the paramedics were great," he told his friend. "They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the emergency room and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read, 'He's a dead man.' I knew I needed to take action."
"What did you do?"
"Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me. She asked if I was allergic to anything. I said 'Yes!"'
The doctors and nurses stopped working and looked at him with concerned wrinkles on their foreheads.
Jerry took a deep breath and said loudly, "I'm allergic to bullets!"
Over their laughter Jerry told them, "Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead." And they did.
Today Jerry is still in the restaurant business. Waiters and waitresses still follow him around, basking in his encouragement, learning from his positive words of advice. Jerry will tell you without blinking that he's alive today because of the skills of some doctors, nurses, and paramedics. But by the time you finish talking with him, you'll know that he's also alive because of his amazing attitude.
Joni Eareckson Tada, who was paralyzed in a diving accident, would admire ]erry's spirit. I've had the privilege of talking with Joni on several occasions, and once she told me: "With profound potential for good, suffering can also be a destroyer. Suffering can pull families together, uniting them through hardship, or it can rip them apart in selfishness and bitterness.... It all depends. On us. On how we respond."
I'm like Jerry-allergic to bullets (it's called ballistophobia). And like Jerry, I cannot choose when or where they will hit. I would love to. But I can't. The one thing I can control is my reaction. My response. My attitude.
How about you? How are you responding to the bullets that come your way?
Which will you choose today: A happy heart? Or bitter to the bone?
Dear Lord we pray for the strength to handle the things that come our way. Help us give each of our cares over to you. I Jesus’ name, Amen.