“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thess 5:16-18 NKJV)
After spending a 30 minutes with a patient whose stroke had left him with minimal communication skills and maximal frustration, I was feeling pretty down. As I wheeled him to the waiting area where a porter would take him back to the hospital, I could see my next patient waiting in his wheelchair outside my office. I waved to him before turning back to my stroke patient’s concerned daughter, and I have to admit, my mind was still churning through their problems when I heard the voice of my next patient:
“So where’s your smile today?”
I did a double take. My smile? Why it was right there on my face, same as usual!
But I could see the concern showing through his eyes. He was dead serious!
I did a quick self-check: He was right! No smile! I quickly pasted one on. “It’s right here, see?”
But he wasn’t fooled. “You don’t shine today,” he said. “You’ve lost your smile!”
Patient confidentiality kept me from sharing my immediate concerns for my last patient, but as I contemplated what I was free to tell him, I realized that I had just finished with three depressing patients in a row! No wonder my smile was gone!
But if I was to be perfectly honest with myself, I had to admit that the spring had been lacking from my step from the moment the alarm rang that morning. And when I arrived at work to discover that my son had missed his school bus and had no way to get to school, things had gone downhill from there.
“You know,” said my patient, “when I’m feeling down, I just look over at my roommate who has no legs, and then I am thankful for another day of life! Or I sit in the sunshine in my room and I realize that there is a lot to be happy about!”
As I considered this, the fact that my son had missed his bus suddenly didn’t seem all that important anymore, and I was fighting tears as I thanked my patient for the reality check.
“There,” he said. “Now you have your glow back!” And he pushed himself out of his wheelchair to give me a hug.
It all made me think. Just where had my smile gone?
I woke up tired. Did that mean I was no longer a child of God?
Did the fact that my son missed his bus mean I wasn’t redeemed by the blood of the lamb?
All my patients have problems, sometimes horribly big ones. But how can I show them a picture of God’s love when all I can do is dwell in my own self-pity? What a self-centered person I have become, when I can so easily forget God’s power and blessings over so little!
We all have burdens to bear. Some of them SEEM pretty big, and others really ARE big. But no matter what we find ourselves going through, God is always there. We are still His beloved children. He still pours out His love and blessings upon us. We are still redeemed by the blood of the lamb. We still have that HOPE, that anchor for our souls, the same hope that enters into the sanctuary of God’s presence on our behalf!
“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Heb 6:19-20 NKJV)
The next time you find yourself focused on your own problems, ask yourself: “Just where did my smile go?” And let’s remember that no matter what, we are still blessed by God, and there is still SO much to be thankful for!
Lyn Chaffart , Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org , with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org