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Can You Tell which Lizard has a Stomachache?

Grandpa Madison for many years told his grandkids stories during the summer evenings while they spent time with him. One evening this past summer, he decided to do something different. He gave his ten grandkids, who gathered around in the front of the country house, a quiz. Grandpa Madison asked his grandchildren a question to stimulate their thought processes. He asked them, "Can you tell which lizard has a stomachache because they all crawl on their bellies?" The grandkids, who were from five to twelve years old, were confused. On their way back to their respective homes after they had spent the weekend with their grandparents, they asked their parents the answer to the question. Their parents were not only puzzled by the question, they were also confused, and neither of the six parents, fathers nor mothers, knew the answer to the question either.

The following weekend, Grandpa Madison put a $100 bill on the table and asked his question again. Nobody seemed to know the answer. In a round table in the presence of the parents and the grandkids, he told them a story.

Grandpa's Story

A man had an accident at work in which one of his fingers was severed. He started to bleed and was rushed to the hospital. He felt so sorry for himself losing one finger and started to cry while waiting for the physician at the emergency room. His finger was put back together, and he was sent home the following day. On his way out of the hospital, he saw a man being rushed into the emergency room from an automobile accident. His arm was chopped off with blood gushing out all over the ambulance driver, paramedics, and the stretcher. The guy with the severed finger thanked God for it was only his finger, and happy it wasn't his arm.

The guy in the car accident was quickly rushed to surgery, and his hand was reconnected. When he came out of surgery, he stayed in the recovery room where he felt depressed about his accident. While being wheeled to his hospital room, he saw another patient covered with a white sheet soaked in blood being brought into the emergency room. He was in a plane crash, and his head was chopped off. Emergency room referred to him as DOA, meaning dead-on-arrival. The guy in the car accident thanked God for being alive.

Richard in Despair

Three month later, Richard, the guy with the severed finger was layed off from his job. He was so angry with his manager, himself, his wife, and everybody around him. He started to wonder how horrible his life was. In emotional pain, he started to curse God for letting bad things happen to him. Months later while in depression, he called Digma, his guardian angel, and asked him for the easiest way to die. Digma, appeared and said, "Look, I'm not in the business of killing people. I'm supposed to guide you through life. Call those guys from the other side in hell, may be they will help you." Then the guardian angel disappeared.

Although Richard wanted to die, he also wanted to go to heaven. Realizing he could not raise hell to get to heaven, he decided to try something different. A few days later was the beginning of deer hunting season. The thought came to Richard to go sit in the woods while hunters were shooting their guns, and maybe by accident, he might be hit by a stray bullet.

Convinced he was ready to die, Richard went into the thickest part of the woods in a thick forest. He sat with his back resting on a tree and fell asleep. The sound of a man crashing through the woods woke him up. Right in front of him was a vicious-looking man covered in blood, holding a raised axe and running towards Richard. The vicious-looking man appeared ready to attack Richard. Suddenly on seeing this, Richard got up as quickly as he could and started running away from the wicked-looking man. Seeing that Richard was running away, the axe man chased him while Richard ran faster than he had ever run in his life. The more he ran, the faster the man chased him.

A few yards from his house, Richard looked back and saw that the axe man had disappeared. Despite this Richard kept running till he got to his house. In front of his house, he took out his key and sat down to catch his breath. While Richard was sitting on his house step, Digma, his guardian angel reappeared laughing. "I thought you said you wanted to die, Richard?" asked Digma, as he continued laughing.

Richard turned around, still trying to catch his breath, his eyes bulging out, and said, "Not really in that way! What a way to die!"

Then the guardian angel lectured Richard by telling him about many people with problems, some who are suffering, but learn to cope with their problems. The angel opened Richard's eyes to see many good things he had and did not appreciate, such as his attractive wife, Nancy, two healthy children, a good college education, a house, over ten thousand dollars in his savings deposit, good relatives, friends, good health, and much more. "Do you want God to be angry with you and take all these good things from you, and you may become homeless?" asked the guardian angel.

"No! No! No!" said Richard.

"You know, many guys like Nancy where she works; do you want any of them to snatch her away from you?" asked Digma.

At that time, Richard realized he had been very selfish, and consequently asked God for forgiveness.

A couple of months later, Richard found a new job paying two times his original salary from his old job. Eight months into his new job, Richard was sitting in his new office when Digma, appeared to him again. "Do you think you would ever have been able to get this job if I had allowed the angels of death to take you as you had requested?" asked the angel.

Smiling, Richard answered, "No! And thanks for not sending me to hell."

Then the guardian angel smiled and departed.

Great Lesson

"What is the lesson of this story?" Grandpa asked one of the grandkids as all the parents looked on smiling. The gray-headed man answered with a smile, "Whenever you think you have a problem so bad and you feel so miserable because you lose your finger, arm, your job, house or close relative, always remember, somebody has it worse than you do. While you are busy drowning in depression, you may never see the new horizon ahead of you. So, the answer to the question, How can you tell which lizard has a stomachache is - - 'You really can't tell because they all crawl on their stomachs.' Similarly, you can't tell the type of problems others are nursing in their lives. If you think you have it that bad, check with others, or visit a morgue. You will definitely be inspired to praise God."

story by Victor Vidal

Lara Publications, St. Louis MO. 314-653-0467