Feeling sorry for ourselves won’t change one thing for the good, but will most likely change things for the worse. So the choice is yours to make: Will your outlook on life be positive or will it be negative? But remember Proverbs 17:22 when making your decision: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
Craig DeMartino falls over 100 feet at a speed of 120 mph at impact, and is miraculously alive. Now is the time for recovery. Any Cyndy, Craig’s wife, says he has “broken all the rules as far as recovery.” His doctors credit that amazing recovery to his outlook, saying he did better than average. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, Craig rejoices in his second chance at life. He’s focused on one day at a time and has kept his sense of humor.
When you think of what Craig has been through, does his attitude surprise you? Does it impress you? Could you have had the same attitude?
And a person’s attitude is contagious. Think about it. What happens to your attitude when you’re around others who have a positive attitude? A negative attitude?
These are some questions God would have us look at today to see how a person’s attitude affects him/her as well as the others around them.
Now, when I watch Craig’s testimony on DVD, I find myself wondering how Craig continued to keep his positive attitude when he had to do treatments and therapy five days a week for months upon months. Obviously, a testimony on DVD doesn’t show us if he had bad days, nor the pain and agony he certainly dealt with on a daily basis. But, I’m pretty sure the experience was not a bed of roses, and that reality is important for us to see.
I know of no one who stays positive all the time. Can you imagine someone saying when he gets the results from his doctor that he has a brain tumor, “Thank you Jesus for letting me have a brain tumor,” or someone else saying, “I’m so glad I was in that accident that totaled my car!”
What we need to understand is that a positive outlook does not have to occur 100% of the time in order for you and me to be called positive. Having a positive outlook is not how we feel immediately when a crisis occurs, but how we perceive the overall experience. In other words, do we view things negatively all the time, or do we take things in stride and find the positive in them?
So what helped Craig to achieve his positive outlook on his crisis? He kept a sense of humor, and He learned to live each day for that day – He quit looking into the futureand began living in the present.
Hum? Doesn’t that sound familiar? Sounds like some sound advice that Jesus gave His disciples, which we are if we are followers of Him. Matthew 6: 34 states, “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
So God’s Big Idea is this: Live fully in the present to achieve the positive outlook He desires for your future.
Don’t try to figure out the future. Be wise in the day you’re in and make the most of it.
Jesus gave us Matthew 6:34 for a couple reasons: 1) for us to really ponder on whether we trust the God we call god to take care of us, and 2) for us to understand that worry won’t add hours to our lives.
In fact, medicine today shows us that worry has the opposite affect – it shortens life. And to put it bluntly, worry does not equate to a positive attitude. Worry tends to reflect on what we can do for ourselves, and thus when we begin to realize our shortcomings, we begin to worry even more about the situation or circumstance we are facing. Hope on the other hand tends to rely upon the promises that God has given to His children – those who have asked Jesus to come into their heart. Thefocus is on God, which allows us to place our yoke upon His strong shoulders making our burden light.
So worry causes a negative outlook on things, whereas hope causes a positive one.
Read this testimony about Brenda. She too was rock climbing when this happened to her. And some of you are thinking, “There’s no way I’m going rock climbing. There are too many stories of bad things happening. God can get my attention some other way.”
Brenda was almost halfway to the top of the tremendous granite cliff. She was standing on the ledge where she was taking a breather during this, her first rock climb. As she rested there, the safety rope snapped against her eye and knocked out her contact lens. “Great”, she thought. “Here I am on a rock ledge, hundreds of feet from the bottom and hundreds of feet to the top of this cliff, and now my sight is blurry.” She looked and looked, hoping that somehow it had landed on the ledge. But it just wasn’t there.
She felt the panic rising in her, so she began praying. She prayed for calm, and she prayed that she may find her contact lens. When she got to the top, a friend examined her eye and her clothing for the lens, but it was not to be found. Although she was calm now that she was at the top, she was saddened because she could not clearly see across the range of mountains. She thought of the Bible verse “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth.” She thought, “Lord, You can see all these mountains. You know every stone and leaf, and You know exactly where my contact lens is. Please help me.”
Later, when they had hiked down the trail to the bottom of the cliff they met another party of climbers just starting up the face of the cliff. One of them shouted out, “Hey, you guys! Anybody lose a contact lens?”
Well, that would be startling enough, but you know why the climber saw it? An ant was moving slowly across a twig on the face of the rock, carrying it!
Brenda almost let panic and worry set in when she lost her contact lens. If she doesn’t pray, what happens to her rock climbing experience that day? Can’t you see her on the ledge grumbling because she can’t find her lens? Saying things like, “I can’t believe this! Now I won’t get to see what I came here to see,“ or “Man, that was my last pair of lenses. Now I have to go back to the doctor and get another prescription, and I don’t have the money.”
These sound like comments I would make, but thank God she doesn’t stay there. She senses the panic setting in. So she prays – she places the burden on God’s shoulders. And what happens to her attitude? It becomes positive, allowing her to enjoy the rest of the day. Yes, she was disappointed that she could not see clearly the mountain ranges she had so wanted to see, but she knew God was in control and could find her contact lens.
I have told my boys many times that God’s word says that we reap what we sow. Basically, if you do good things, your life will be good. And if you do bad things, your life will be bad. But let me warn you that this is not a guaranteed equation to a life of prosperity, happiness, joy, and peace as some teach. We’re guaranteed that at times in our lives, no matter how good we are that we’re going to face struggle and pain. After all the Jesus we call Savior did everything good, yet his life experienced great catastrophe.
“We reap what we sow” also applies to our attitude and outlook. If we have a negative one, should we expect anything goodto come out of it?
So Brenda caught herself being negative and changed direction. We too need to listen to ourselves as the Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts. We don’t have to be negative. It’s a choice we make; and because Brenda was able to look at this positively, God was able to miraculously answer her prayer by sending an ant to recover the lens.
When I taught at Grace Academy in Hagerstown, I had an 8th grade homeroom.
My first group of 8th grader’s did nothing but moan and complain about their parents, about the school, about everything. I knew that this class was not a cooperative one coming to me, but just like God, I tried to give them a clean slate – to give them the benefit of the doubt. They complained so much that it really started to weigh on me. Yea, they respected me. They liked me. They did what I asked. But, they always complained about something.
One day, God gave me some wisdom on how to deal with their negativity. He said, “Have them write a one page paper of their gripes and complaints about the school.” When I told them this, they were very excited. It was the first positive expression that I had seen out of them the whole year:)
But, I had to stop them, because God put a BUT on the end of the statement. I had to tell them that God also said, “You can gripe and complain about the school in your paper, but you must back it with scripture.” And their faces went from smiles to frowns, and some of them began to say, “Mr. Cardwell, how are we going to do that?”
And that was the point. They all still had to write the paper and they tried to make scripture take on the context of their complaints. But it didn’t happen.
So too is true for us. We are not going to find anything in the scripture that reinforces our negativity. So why try? God knows that a positive outlook far outweighs a negative one. He knows that a positive outlook brings lifeand a negative one, despair.
Proverbs 17:22 states, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
Looking at the first part of that verse, “A cheerful heart is good medicine” we know this to be true because the burden we have is now on the shoulders of God. Having a positive outlook will allow your body to function and heal, just like it did Craig’s. But if you want to hold onto the burdens – to have a negative outlook – you get the latter part of the verse “a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” And what that means is this: over time, your body will be stressed and begin to wear down.
Having a positive outlook on the crisis you may be facing now or in the future will bring you peace and a will to make the most out of the circumstances you are in. It will help you to heal spiritually and physically, when in those situations. It will help you to stay healthier now.
A positive outlook will also benefit those who are around you. It will encourage them to remain positive themselves. And it just might be the seed, through your example, that God plants in their hearts to use the next time they face a crisis.
Craig could have felt sorry for himself. But he didn’t, and the proof to his healing is in the testimony.