body — God’s gift
A wise Congolese friend
once responded when asked, “What is health to you?”
by saying, “Health is everything I am.” Though this
article will focus on physical health, there is an interconnection
of the body, spirit and emotions when thinking of health. Even
the World Health Organization recognizes that physical health
is not merely the absence of disease, but an overall state of
well-being — emotionally, spiritually and physically.
All of us desire to
be blessed with good physical health. No one enjoys being in pain.
Many of us dread the possibility of a heart attack or stroke,
and for some the very thought of cancer evokes fear and dismay.
Most Americans today
are well informed about the benefits of healthy behaviors such
as proper diet and exercise. We know those two factors alone can
contribute to reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke and
even some forms of cancer. We also know we should have annual
medical checkups and that there are certain diagnostic age-specific
exams that can detect cancer that we should have routinely or
when our physician orders them.
Many of us, despite
this life-saving knowledge, often find it difficult to put the
knowledge into practice. We postpone or avoid proper eating and
exercise, claiming we just don’t have time. We don’t
schedule checkups and exams because we feel it’s too expensive.
Sometimes we even think that it isn’t necessary to do these
things because “God will protect us and keep us well.”
There is another segment
of our society, even including some within the evangelical community,
who go from avoidance to the opposite extreme. They become obsessed
with fad diets and all sorts of products and supplements that
promise reduction of cancer risk, cures for arthritis, prevention
of colds, increased mental abilities and any number of benefits
that are difficult, if not impossible, to substantiate. In our
“quick-fix” society we are drawn to the idea that
taking a pill or, more usually, multiple pills and supplements
will give us the physical health and well-being that we so desire
without any great effort on our part.
Transforming Power of Fasting and Prayer
Beginner’s Guide to Fasting
Lilian B. Yeomans
here or call
Whether we avoid or
obsess, the question is —why? Why do we care for our spirits
and tend to our emotional needs while neglecting or even abusing
this amazing organism — the body that God has entrusted
The Bible speaks of
the wonder and importance of the physical body in Psalm 139:13,14:
“For You have formed my inward parts; You have covered me
in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully
and wonderfully made” (NKJV). Paul also wrote, “So
husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he
who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own
flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the
church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His
bones” (Ephesians 5:28-30).
These Scriptures give
us the idea there is an expectation that we will take care of
the body that has membership with God himself and that we do and
should love ourselves enough to care for our bodies.
The number one reason
given for lack of attention to our physical health is time. We
often feel we don’t have time for exercise, we don’t
have time to eat properly and we don’t have time or money
to have the checkups and exams that would benefit us.
Statistics show that
Americans are spending millions on so-called health products to
try to make themselves healthier, when, in fact, most of what
is promised by these products could be achieved simply by eating
healthy, balanced diets and participating in regular exercise.
Most of us, however,
do find time and money for the things we enjoy — socializing,
television, recreation, hobbies, etc. Think back over the past
week and look at possibilities when exercise and preparing a balanced
meal might have fit into your lifestyle. Is lack of time or money
really the root issue?
In reality, self-discipline
may be more of a key to the lack of caring for ourselves than
anything else. Eating vegetables and low-fat foods is not nearly
as satisfying as a cheeseburger and a large fries, and those fast
foods are quicker and easier to obtain. After a long day, sitting
in front of the TV is usually more appealing than getting outside
for a brisk walk or going to the pool to swim.
Another factor may
be that we simply do not like our bodies very much. We feel intimidated
by what we see in the mirror and we make all kinds of unfavorable
comparisons with the ideal bodies we see portrayed in the media.
Rather than improving ourselves as best as we reasonably can,
we choose to avoid dealing with our physical health.
How can we take the
knowledge of good health behaviors and put them into practice?
In so doing, as Paul wrote, how can we help to nourish and cherish
our bodies that are a gift from God?
First, do a survey
of your physical status. Are you actively caring for your physical
health as evidenced by good health behaviors? Are the following
practices part of your life?