Faith & Reflection
Everyone has health concerns. A friend told me that he’d recently undergone a medical test. His doctor told him that if all was well, he might hear nothing, but if the test revealed a problem, he would call him. As he awaited the results, his thoughts were quite disturbing. If the call didn’t come, perhaps the doctor had forgotten or his file had been misplaced. And if the call came, then obviously bad news was pending.
Mark Twain quipped, “The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like and do what you’d rather not.”
Many of us (I suspect especially the male gender) employ avoidance and or denial to manage/mismanage our health issues.
In 1846, John Quincy Adams (sixth president of the U.S.) suffered a stroke. He returned to politics, but his health was failing. One of his friends inquired how he was making out. Adams answered, “I inhabit a weak, frail, decayed tenement; battered by the winds and broken in upon by the storms, and from all I can learn, the landlord does not intend to repair.”
So … we can muster and employ all available humour, avoidance and denial, but like Adams, we all have to eventually accept the fact that the clock keeps ticking and time will take its toll. Is there a biblical/Christian perspective to this issue of personal health?
The apostle Paul related that physical infirmity in his life made him stronger. He stated in 2 Corinthians 12:10 that, “… when I am weak, then I am strong.” Obviously, he did not enjoy being unwell, but recognized that his strength in God increased in direct proportion to his need for God’s assistance.
Numerous people have told me that when they’re not feeling well, they spend more time in the Bible and prayer and that this draws them closer to God. Psalm 119:71 says, “It is good for me to have been through trouble; so that I might come to the knowledge of your (God’s) rules.”
Challenges relative to our health can be a real test of and revealer of our character.
It is reasonably easy to be a thankful, contented person when everything is going our way.
But when illness strikes, can we still follow the admonition of being, “…content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11) and, “In everything give thanks …” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)?
Billy Graham said, “When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.”
“Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit” (3 John 1:2).
—Pastor Ross Helgeton is senior pastor at Erskine Evangelical Free Church.