restoring our biblical and constitutional foundations


In Pursuit of Health

Becky Lynn Black  

Many people these days are searching for health…familial, physical, and financial. A high divorce rate, domestic violence, and rebellious children are regular features in the news. In response, many Christian families have circled their wagons and developed ingrown, defensive postures that breed new forms of illness. With the economic downturn, the financial vulnerability of the average American family comes into sharp focus: debt, overspending, runaway charge cards. The number of financial “doctors” and seminars out there is astounding.  To have the American dream, families must get their house in order. And physical sickness is rampant in our society…cancer on every front, heart disease, obesity.  There are a million “cures”…this diet, that supplement, this exercise in meditation.  It has become an obsession!

Where does the pursuit of health fit into God’s design for His people?

I have pondered this issue much in the last weeks as I’ve processed my diagnosis. And this is the conclusion that I’ve come to: Wholeness, Health, Perfect-ness is not compatible with Sin. As long as there is sin in the world, there will be sickness….in families, in finances, in relationships, in bodies.

Only God knows the details of why and how Sin destroys Life. But it does! (I suspect that when we arrive in Heaven, where there is no sin, we will be absolutely amazed at the destruction under which we lived on Earth.)

As I look at Jesus’ life (which is my choice for a model for my own life), I notice what He said about financial health.  “The poor you have with you always.” “Don’t seek after food, clothes, shelter; your Father knows you need these things.” “It is more difficult for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a man who knows he’s rich to get into Heaven (ie. he has an attitude about his riches).”

What I see from these and other verses is this: Financial well-being should be a non-issue for the Christian. That is the Father’s business. Our business is to seek His Kingdom, His righteousness, His way. Our focus is not the American Dream with its big world of possessions and bank accounts and retirement funds. Our focus is beyond this life to the Life beyond, where no stock market destroys the balance sheet, no mold and rust destroy the possessions, and houses don’t need constant maintenance.

Again, looking at Jesus’ life as the model for family relationships, I notice that He repeatedly refused to buckle under to the demands of his own mother when His Father was appointing Him elsewhere. He marched to a drum different than general society, and different even than the “church” scene. He had close relationships with many different types of people, but they never dominated His life. Only the Father dominated His life. And He met regularly with that Father for communion, fellowship, instructions. He was independently dependent/connected to other human beings, but He was utterly dependent upon the Father.

What I see from this is that in our families, we must be very careful not to worship our blood lines. Spouses, children, grandchildren can be wonderful blessings; they also can be terrible distractions from the Father. The same is true of friendships. We must learn the art of being independently dependent/connected, relational without co-dependent, sharing without suffocating. In all things, even family, only the Father must have complete allegiance. 

This has very practical dimensions. Do we leave our estates to ungodly children, or to Kingdom ministries? Do we accommodate sinful behavior (like fornication, drunkenness, drug addiction, habitual anger) under our roofs? Do we accept an unwed partner of a child as we would a spouse of that child? Do we condone marriages with unbelievers?

These are tough situations, but if we are straight about who we serve, who we are REALLY connected to, then the choice is easier, even if it still has its pain. All is lost when we live in such a way that our allegiance to the Father does not reign supreme in our relationships, family or otherwise. All is lost because our light has gone out.

And how was Jesus about His health issues? We know that He was tired, hungry, hurting. We know He faced mental/psychological challenges. Instances of these situations are clearly described in the four Gospels. But there is no reference in any of the Gospels (that I can find) to His concern about diet, or bowel movements, or hygiene, or the effects of stress. We get the impression that He just flowed with Life as it came to Him. I’m fairly certain that IF He had taught much about diligence and particular-ness in these matters, it would have been recorded someplace in the four Gospels.

For myself, as I’ve pondered these things, I’ve asked the Lord “Show me how to think about pursuing physical health.”  And the conclusion I’ve come to is this:

  1. Very few things are known with absolute certainty.  The human body is an amazingly intricate work of God.  With all our modern research, after millennia of time, we have barely begun to understand even surface things of how it operates.  So, to say “this is the cure” or “this is the absolute way to be healthy” with any degree of certainty is to fail to understand the deficiency of Man’s knowledge and the magnitude of His creative powers.
  1. All approaches have their success stories.  Everyone seems to have a sister, or aunt, or neighbor who did this and this with resultant healing.  Not only with cancer, but with obesity, with heart disease, with any number of physical issues. The truth is that the apparent success had more factors involved than just that particular approach, and those factors are not easily acknowledged.
  1. God Himself, as Creator and Sustainer of the Universe (including me), has the power and authority to over-rule His laws in order to accomplish His purposes in and thru me.  In an instant, He can give serious illness, and in an instant, He can heal from serious illness.  The Scriptures have many stories of both instances. Only He holds the keys to health, and He locks/unlocks according to His perfect wisdom.
  1. Given all of these issues and the pervasive effect of Sin (both upon physical life and upon our understanding of that life), my focus should not be physical health, but stewardship of whatever health He allows me to have. Stewardship is defined as reasonable management of resources, according to the values and goals and desires of the Owner.  That’s a mouthful! It means that I make decisions, not on the basis of fear or greed or pride, but on the basis of my ultimate accountability to my Creator. It means that my focus is upon that meeting in eternity, when what I chose to do is compared with His purposes, His heartbeat, His values. Is His purpose for me to life in perfect health? No! Despite the “health and wealth” gospel message, God’s purpose is far higher than that!  His purpose is that I live in the reality of His strength, even in the midst of sickness and disease. In that way of living, His Name is glorified as His power is displayed in attitude, in joyfulness, in thankfulness, in sweetness of spirit, in calm trust in the One who cannot change.
  1. The Evil One will use anything, even the pursuit of a good thing, to distract us from our ultimate purpose. Bringing Him glory, obeying Him implicitly, following Him wholeheartedly….this is our purpose. How can we fulfill that purpose and simultaneously pursue Health?  “No man can have 2 masters,” Jesus said. Even “good” things can become masters, if we sacrifice to serve them. It is my opinion that often the Evil One gains more advantage over Christians through “good” things than through “evil” things. We must watch out! We must remember that he seeks to destroy us! We must not let anything, any agenda, any person, any program, any goal, any pursuit control us. Only the Lord Jesus has the right to control us.  (How do we know when something is controlling us? Our emotional response at the thought of losing that something is the best gauge I know.  If we panic at the thought of losing our health, our family, our child, our financial base, our job, our whatever…then that thing has become a “god” to us.  It controls us, and we serve it.)

So, am I following a prescribed diet as if it were the Bible truth? No. Am I doing what seems reasonable, based upon what we know about chemotherapy effects and nutrition? Yes. 

And in all the “doings,” my emotions are detached from the doings. My trust, my hope, my peace comes not from my doings. My trust, my hope, my peace rests 100% upon my God, His character, His faithfulness, His sufficiency.

So in the coming days, as fatigue sets in, as nausea overwhelms me, as infections threaten, as my organs suffer “collateral damage” from the chemo, my heart and focus is set. I trust Him to supply what is needed, hour by hour, for the work of that hour. I will walk through the days and weeks and months ahead holding onto Him, and allowing Him to carry me in all my weakness. 

I do not pursue Health. I pursue Him. And I seek His commendation, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

September 16, 2009

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