We place such a premium on physical health.
We spend money on gym memberships, workout equipment, quality running shoes, and music to run by. We count calories, carbs, and sugars, and worry about choosing the right kinds of fat. We drink green smoothies, research symptoms online until we’re paranoid, and stock up on supplements that promise younger, slimmer, healthier bodies.
Our bodies are king, and they must be appeased.
I’m guilty of thinking that way, too.
I’d like to think I have a valid reason to focus on my health. After all, I have a chronic illness — which includes insomnia, chronic fatigue, weakened immune system, chronic inflammation, migraines, and a little extra weight around my middle. Don’t I have a right to pursue better health?
Perhaps, if I’m thinking like a human (which I am).
But if I try to see it like God sees it, then perhaps not. Perhaps even those of us with “valid excuses” place too much value on trying to feel better.
Note: I’m not talking about avoiding life-saving medical care. PLEASE don’t disregard your doctor’s advice, especially if you suffer from any serious or chronic conditions.
My point is that we regard non-crucial symptoms as devastating and harmful, when they’re really just a little inconvenient.
- I complain if I get hungry and can’t eat right away — even though I don’t have a blood sugar problem, and I know where my next meal is coming from.
- I get grumpy if someone disturbs me while I’m fighting a headache — when I know the pain is only temporary and certainly nothing life-threatening.
- I struggle to be at church on time, because I need just a few minutes more in bed — as though 15 minutes really makes a huge difference in my energy levels.
- I whine when I have to stay up later than I want, or get up early to meet someone else’s needs — because I feel like my sleep time must be protected at all costs.
- I get preoccupied with meeting my needs, on my timetable — thinking my own health is more important than meeting other’s needs.
Yet none of those things are live-or-die problems. Sure, going hungry or losing sleep will increase my fatigue. Sure, I need to use some common sense and not over-extend myself.
But what right do we have to get impatient when our body’s needs aren’t met on our timetable… especially when those needs aren’t life-or-death?
After all, we believe He is in control of everything, right? We verbally acknowledge that He is sovereign. We affirm that He is the Giver and Sustainer of all life. We boldly proclaim that our bodies are created “fearfully and wonderfully,” even with their weaknesses and imperfections.
But what do our actions say?
- We pray for physical healing, rather than spiritual maturity through physical suffering.
- We willingly get up early to go for a run, but complain about getting up early to do ministry.
- We avoid meeting with our local church, because we’d rather spend time relaxing with our family.
- We feel a cold coming on, and complain that we “don’t have time to get sick.”
- We value “me time” above ministry time, and see things (people) as interruptions rather than opportunities.
Let me share something I read recently, that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind. It’s from a book about Job (affiliate link), and it’s considering why God allowed Satan to harm Job physically:
“We assume that personal comfort and physical health in this present life are the greatest good and highest priority. We place the highest premium on what we can see and feel here and now. The very idea that there are greater goods and higher priorities than physical welfare or personal happiness sounds like insulting, hyperpious nonsense. That is because we are shortsighted, self-centered sinners…
Physical life and health are not the greatest good, and death is not the end.”
We’re all going to die sometime (assuming Christ doesn’t return first). We’re all going to end up in the grave. None of us will achieve perfect health here on earth, no matter how hard we try.
I’m not advocating a laissez-faire attitude of what’s the point, why bother trying. I’m not talking about being foolish — trying to pull all-nighters, or visiting the sick room when we’re already fighting a virus, or rejecting sound medical advice, or utterly giving up taking care of our bodies. Our bodies are God’s temples, and we are called to be wise stewards of our physical health.
But that’s the thing — our bodies are GOD’s temples.
And He allows physical discomfort in our bodies, HIS temples, for a reason.
Wouldn’t we be better off focusing less on our bodies, and more on being a part of His body? Less on our physical well-being and more on our spiritual health?
Instead of thinking that health is everything, we should think godliness is everything. tweet this Remember what Paul said?
“Train yourself for godliness;
for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way,
as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
1 Timothy 4:7-8
How can we shift our focus from the physical to the spiritual?
What practical steps would you suggest?
photo credit: Ⅿeagan