The amount of thought I give to my health is usually proportional to how good or poor that health is. It’s amazing how my attention becomes suddenly refocused when I’m just fighting a cold! But on any normal day, I hardly think about my health at all. This is an amazing gift of mercy from God.
I’m not the kind of person who gives much daily thought to what I eat. I don’t shy away from preservatives or count calories. I’m not apprehensive of the food that’s available to me, and there’s a reason why:
In Matthew 6:25–27, Jesus says, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
As I write, I find myself in great health – and great comfort. I can afford to have peace. I don’t have to think about what I eat, which is an amazing gift. Even with my mind on other things, God sustains me day-to-day.
I used to think about my health a lot – in the wrong way. I constantly worried about whether my food would make me ill. I didn’t eat enough or get enough physical exercise. I was anxious about my diet and I was failing to worship God with my body! I fell short of the biblical standard of self-care in every way and my health suffered for it.
I’m learning to find a wholesome balance between obsession and neglect. I am still the caretaker of my body. I can’t live on instant noodles and expect God to shrug off my irresponsibility to keep me in the peak of health (although I’d be tempted to try). My body is a gift and I must take care of it.
In fact, it’s more than a gift – it’s a worship offering to God.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1).
Wouldn’t you want to see your gift to someone be well-loved and maintained? I imagine God takes more joy in our good health than we give him credit for.
For this reason, I look at people who exercise and eat healthily with respect. I have friends who know exactly what’s in their food and how it affects them. They set aside time to work out. Their motivation is not self-image, but bodily care. They plan ahead to use their gift from God to his glory and worship. I have a lot to learn from them!
Though I still struggle with those impulses toward anxiety from time to time, God continues to heal and sustain me – even in my mind. He gives me the peace to believe Matthew 6:25–27 and empowers me to obey Romans 12:1. His grace is paramount to my health.
It’s amazing where I find God’s mercy when I go looking, and this story is no exception. I’m filled with immense gratitude. Whether I’m fighting a cold or just going to bed at a decent hour, I try to honour and thank God with my body every day.
[Katie Harder is a graduate of the Thrive discipleship program at Bethany College.