Sunday, March 25, 2018

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - A Cheerful Heart

While I was in the hospital, I was blessed by all of the wonderful nurses, housekeeping personnel, room and food services. The list of those around me who did their absolute best to look after me goes on and on. I cannot count the number of people who not only did their job but also did it with a passion and love that was very contagious. Yes, their passion and love for what they did on a daily basis came through each time. It was very difficult for me to give up some of my independence to others and rely on them to help me do the basic things that I had taken for granted. If you have never been hospitalized, and I pray that you never are, it is a little difficult to give up your independence to other people. The most basic of activities like showering and brushing my teeth became a choreographed event. Nurses and nurse technicians had to plan and time each moment of me getting up from my hospital bed and moving to the sink and then to the bathing area. Each monitoring and watching me closely. I truly felt helpless, but they made me feel that all of this was momentary. It was going to pass and be a memory for the holidays. My family and I would be sitting at the Thanksgiving table reminiscing about the time I was in the hospital with a life-threatening illness. 

There were two things that struck me the most during all of this. First was that each person, no matter what they did in the hospital, gave me the gift of a smile and conversation. I so enjoyed speaking to each of them and sharing a moment. They told me of their lives and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about their dreams, thoughts and aspirations. I loved hearing about their families and especially loved hearing about why they worked in the hospital. It certainly wasn't the money that drew them to healthcare. It was the fact that they were making a difference in people's lives. There were nights when I cried myself to sleep after enduring one intravenous bag of medication after another. My arms hurt from the lab technicians drawing blood. I felt alone. When I felt that I was in darkness all alone, a nurse, technician, housekeeper or food service representative would come into my room and they would pick up my spirits by talking to me and letting me know that things would get better. They would also let me know that this was just a momentary blip in my life. The astronauts would say, "This is a glitch or technical malfunction and there is a solution or workaround for it"

The other thing was what the nurses said about me. When I had the opportunity, I, too, passed along my joy and laughter. I would be cheerful and they, in turn, returned that cheerfulness a thousandfold. When shift change came, I could hear them outside my door talking about me, each nurse would say the same thing, "Jesse is a great patient. He is cheerful, upbeat and loves to help." That made me feel like I was giving back. While I was in one hospital, I helped one of the nurses with the hospital unit bulletin board. She was very grateful and asked me why I was helping. I simply said, "I have to earn my keep." We both laughed. But, it was true. Just as they had helped me, I desired to help and give back to them wherever I could and to the best of my ability at the time.

Proverbs 17 has a wonderful verse that tells us of the virtue of a cheerful heart. Let us look at verse 22. "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person's strength." When we have a cheerful heart, we have the ability of making the biggest differences in people's lives. You, by being cheerful and helpful, can impact the life of another person in the profoundest way. Mother Teresa said it best, "Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love." Smiling is truly the beginning of love. It shows that we care enough for others to spread cheer and warmth to another.

When I faced some of the most difficult of moments, a nurse or technician would smile and encourage me. I am not talking about a small, forced smile. I am talking about a big, toothy smile that beams across a room and lights it up. When I saw that smile, I found the strength to continue when I just couldn't. I found the courage to go on when I just wanted to give up. If they had not done that and just stood there, it would have broken my spirit even further and I would no longer have the strength to do anything.

It is sad that society sees more value in basketball, football and baseball players by lavishing them with millions of dollars while the true heroes like fire fighters, police officers, nurses and so many others are not valued. They do their jobs, because they love what they do. Once again, looking at Proverbs, we see the heart's ability to give. Let us look at Proverbs 15:13. "A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit.

By having a glad heart that wants to give to the world, it manifests itself in a happy face and that happy face brings joy, courage and love to those around them. If they just do their jobs with no heart at all, that too will manifest itself in their faces and crush not only their spirits but also those around them.

Each of us have so many opportunities to give to other through a very simple act of smiling. Mother Teresa is absolutely correct. That one smile is the beginning of something so very wonderful. It is the beginning of love and that love, when shared with others, is contagious and will engulf the whole world. 

The love we show one another comes without strings or bows. It comes without contracts or restrictions. It is freely given to all those around us. It is unconditional and open to all to accept it. It exemplifies the love of our Heavenly Father. His love is unfailing and lasts forever. His love was shown through the sacrifice of His one and only son over two thousand years ago. Men who had broken spirits and dried up hearts crucified an innocent man who was and is forever the son of God. Jesus came into this world to show us the love of the Father and as Paul, in Philippians 2:7-9, tells us, "7 Instead, he (being Jesus) gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. 9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names." Yes, Jesus died a criminal's death, because he loved us enough to suffer on a cross and die for our sins. 

I challenge each of you to go out and have that cheerful heart and share it with the world by giving others the gift of a smile. Give them something that will change their lives forever. By doing this, we know we are sharing God's love with others and by doing so, we can stand firm in His grace.

May God richly bless you each and every day of your lives and protect and guide you.

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