In 1997, Missy Jenkins was a 15-year-old student at Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky. On December 1 of that year, Missy was part of a group of students that had gathered in the lobby of the school building to pray before classes started.
As they prayed, 14-year-old Michael Carneal entered the lobby. He was well-armed and intent on doing evil. As the group finished their prayers, Carneal started shooting.
Three students died that day. Five teenagers, including Missy Jenkins, were wounded. Missy learned that day that she would be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. That’s difficult news for anyone to hear, especially a teenager with her whole life ahead of her.
Missy could have allowed this tragedy to make her bitter, but being a Christian, she chose to maintain a positive outlook. After all, the Bible does say, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2-3).
So Missy persevered in her joy. She visited Michael Carneal in prison and forgave him. She married Josh Smith and they had a son named Logan. Missy became a counselor at a school for troubled teenagers. She has had many opportunities to speak to groups about her story. Eleven years after the shooting, Missy Jenkins Smith released a book about her life titled “I Choose to Be Happy”.
Each one of us has our own unique set of trials to face in life. How much better off we are when we decide to face those trials with joy! In this way we honor God, bless those around us and set a wonderful example of Christian living for the world to see.
So, no matter what life brings your way, choose joy!