"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones"
I have the opportunity to know two men who have two different attitudes. One has a merry heart and the other a broken spirit. The shocking part is that the one with the merry heart actually has it worse then the one with the broken spirit. He is in a wheel chair, has been for 15 or more years, he has a rare form of insulin resistant diabetes which is consuming his body as we speak. He lives with levels of pain none of us can even imagine. He not only is nearly blind, he also has most of his mind damaged by the diabetes. This man has had heart surgery in the past year, and most times I call him, he is in the hospital after passing out and nearly dying for the hundredth time.
He runs his own business selling fishing lures that he handcrafts by himself with eyes that can barely see. Even though he has so much pain, he will confidently say when you ask him how he is doing, "I am doing fantastic! Other than my body trying to kick the bucket, It is well with my soul." The doctors cannot believe this man is still alive. I can't believe he is still alive. I mean, this man has literally been through the wringer. I call him and I hear his voice and I stand in awe that he did not die yet. For the past 2 years, he has been telling me that he is going to die soon. Each time I prepare myself for the bad news, it never comes. He just keeps defying the odds. He says he is ready to go and be with the Lord, but until that happens, he will use every breath he is given to glorify God and to lead others to Him.
Talking to this man, Mike, has taught me to be thankful and joyful no matter what the circumstances are. If he can keep going with a smile on his face even though most of the time he only has his help dog, Parker by his side and a mountain of pain consuming every inch of his body, so can I. He is far more in pain and disabled than I could ever imagine and it is a wonder that he can keep such a calm, sweet, thankful spirit even when he is suffering so completely. Each time I have a problem, I think of him. I think of what Mike would say, "This is no big deal. God is bigger than this." And when I would become afraid, Mike would remind me how much anxiety and fear is talked about in the Bible. How the only fear that we should have is reverence of God, anything else is "nothing compared to God so it is wrong to fear it."
I am convinced that he is alive today because of his merry heart. There is no other way to explain it. His joyful and thankful heart is like medicine. I guess God is not finished with him yet. He still has a mission. I know part of his mission was to knock some sense into me! I met Mike at a seminar about missions that my husband and I were filming. He wheeled in front of me and said, "excuse me." I was hobbling around in pain with my foot and because he looked so happy, I wanted to meet him. Later I discovered that he was one of the speakers. He was an organic farmer who pulled weeds by the seat of his pants! He would sit on the ground each day just dragging his legs around with him as he took care of his farm. Just he and his help dog, Parker. He sold produce to fancy restaurants and made enough money to give it all away to people less fortunate than him.
On the other hand, I also know a man who is of a broken spirit. He complains about everything. He sits down and sighs, "I'm having a bad day." It reminds me of that character in Winnie the Pooh—Eeyore. He is the old blue donkey that is forever saying the same line as this man. It never fails, no matter how much he has, he feels like he has nothing. And what he does have, he wants to guard with his life—no one is going to take his stuff again! You could give him everything you had and his response would be, "Good enough." No thank you, no smile, no real appreciation of anything. He just expects it. His health is horrible and I am convinced it is because of his broken spirit. He can barely walk a short distance. He had a bad life, a bad deal, and things will never cease to disappoint him. When you are around him for too long, you start to feel the oppression, the toxic feeling of depression setting in. He is not thankful that he can see when so many others cannot. He is not thankful for the years that he has been able to walk when others have no legs. He forever dreams of having a better life while the life he has is just slipping through the hour glass of time. Wasted on another day filled with brokenness.
I learned a lot from both men. Sometimes you can learn the most from the most difficult people. They become your teacher. If you allow yourself to get sucked into the poison it will be lessons to your ruin. If you realize how broken and how drying it is to the bones, you will learn to resist your own temptation to complain or become bitter. You see how pitiful and wretched it looks, how annoying and ungrateful it is, and you will chose JOY! I am glad I spent years around Eeyore. He taught me so much. I know I do not want to be like that—ever! When my kids get started on a pity party, I just tell them they might just end up like Eeyore. They get a mental picture in their minds and they stop. All that God did for this man will never be realized, never be known. He only makes known what God did not do. He is the first to shake his fist at God and ask, "Why haven't you come through for me again." I am convinced God wonders why he should bless someone who will never notice it anyhow. Or if he did notice it, he will soon find something else he is lacking. It never fails.
Likewise, I learned a lot from Mike. I learned that I want to smile and be thankful in all circumstances. I want to be known as a woman who was thankful. A woman who trusted in God. A woman who did not complain about her circumstances. When people remember Mike, they will remember a man who never complained, who made the most of his time and appreciated all that he was given. They will know him as a man who served the Lord!
Let us go forth today with a merry heart! It is the cure for the disease of the broken spirit.
Please continue to pray for Michael Hoff. Even though he never complains, I know he is suffering so much. I know he has much to offer others by his words and by his joyful example. He is not ashamed of the gospel and will continue to share the light of Christ until his last breath. To God be the Glory.