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Good Medicine
Photo: Varina & Jay Patel
Some time back, my husband and I had the opportunity to volunteer at a “Walk for ALS” fundraiser as a project for one of his nursing classes. As we helped set up tables, hand out T-shirts to the walkers, and collect people’s donations, we met a number of individuals who were suffering from this disease, along with their families. A classmate of my husband introduced us to one of these individuals, a lady for whom she had helped provide in-home care. This lady, Tracy*, had been diagnosed with ALS many years ago. But, as my husband’s classmate explained, the disease’s progression had been surprisingly slow. Her condition was excellent, considering how long she had had the disease. Why?

Apparently, doctors attributed it to family care and support. While the fundraiser “teams” representing different individuals with ALS were fairly large, Tracy’s team outnumbered them all. I was captivated as I watched Tracy surrounded by family and friends, from young children and teenagers up to older family members of her own age. A little girl held onto the side of her wheelchair as they took a group photo and teenage boys took turns pushing her as they walked. Family members reached over to give her hugs and listen carefully to her fumbling words.

Cheerful Heart

As I watched, it suddenly came to my mind that I was seeing a Bible verse illustrated before my eyes. Proverbs 17:22 states that “a cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones”. The love and care that Tracy’s family had given her truly had been like medicine. By helping to cheer her spirit, they had extended her life and slowed down the progression of her symptoms.

It made me ponder. Our words and actions have a profound effect not only on our relationships with others, but their physical bodies! While you or I may not have a friend or family member with a serious disease like this one, reaching out to those around us can be “preventative medicine” against physical illness and relational conflict and distance. Even if it’s simply taking the time to listen or telling a friend or family member “I love you”, helping to cheer the hearts of those around us can be good medicine. As you interact with those around you today, remember what a powerful tool God has placed in your hands to impact the people in your life.

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By Damae Schilt. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

*Not her real name.

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