What is health? As God is walking me through a lengthy trial of perpetual pain and illness, I would be lying if I said that I don’t think about being fully restored and healthy on a daily basis. In fact, I often find myself crying in genuine, heartfelt distress because of the aching of both my body and soul. I pray to the Lord daily, telling Him that I know he knows what’s going on and that I trust He has not forgotten about me or removed His hand from me. I know He is holding me hand through this. Whatever is causing me to feel so ill also causes significant flares in my emotions, making it so that sometimes, without notice or motive, tears sit in my eyes like tiny, passenger-laden airplanes ready in waiting on the runway. Any little signal from the control tower and, bam! it’s take off, baby. So, yeah, I wonder what the ideal picture of health looks like. I daily ponder if I’m ever going to be physically well, if I will get to have kids and take them to Disneyland, if I will feel the pure joy that comes from eating the last, soggy bite of a vanilla ice cream cone again. Will I ever get to visit places like Thailand and Switzerland? Will I have grandchildren? Such thoughts regularly lead me to faraway trains of thought. I understand the importance of staying in the moment and remaining present in the here and now, but in the depths of my trials, I wonder about things that I see all around me and am unable to experience. My tangential musings on health usually go something like this:
Take any “normal” (what’s normal, anyway?) person and examine the notion of health. Said person may not have anything wrong with him or her physically, per se, but what if they’re distraught with anxiety, or coping with a drunkard of a spouse, or wrapped up in a viscous cycle of self-worship. Even worse, what if they don’t know the saving power and truth of Jesus Christ (John 3:16)?
All too often, we walk around with what I’ve coined a “church lady” (i.e. smile-and-don’t-let-anyone-know-you’re-struggling) facade painted on really thick, because who wants to be surrounded by Debbie Downers all the time and hear “well, I’m a mess and barely making it through today” as a response to a simple “how are you,” amiright? I wonder what would happen if we all let our human show every time we’re asked how we are. Maybe we’d find out that, indeed, we’re all a little sick.
If health spans more than just the physical, and transcends into the metaphysical, specifically the spiritual, then true health, according to the Bible, is measured by the condition of a person’s soul. Matthew 16:26 asks us what good it is for us to gain the world and forfeit our soul. Ultimately, life could be as relaxed, comfortable, and without trouble as possible here on earth, but if Christ is not guiding the spirit of a person, their soul is destined for destruction–utter illness and sour decay. This is the truth. Hell is real, and being cast into outer darkness and into a permanent separation from God and from every good thing is far worse than any earthly pain and sorrow. So then why do I, knowing the truth of the gospel, still hurt and still beg God to heal me?
Therein lies the rub: the flesh wants an easy physical path, and the moment we taste anything outside of ease, panic and a sense of unfairness rapidly become the driving forces behind our thoughts. My prayer is that if you’re anything like me, struggling with your physical well being, praying for healing and getting a “no” or “not yet” from God, that you would ultimately remember that Jesus is the fount of every blessing and the source of every good and perfect thing. Know that those good and perfect things, however, are not found in this earth. Our reward and rest is yet to come in heaven. Take joy and have peace in knowing that, so long as your genuine faith and trust are in Christ, this isn’t as good as it gets.For now, in your struggles, take joy in your favorite song. Dance in your car and laugh at your own silliness. Make light of today, remembering that life is a mist that is here today and gone tomorrow. Be joyful always, even when you’re at your most depressed.
Even if you’re wailing in pain or have to endure terribly uncomfortable moments (or days, or years), please let your soul be healthy. Let your spirit rejoice and be glad in trusting that God doesn’t make mistakes. He will consistently use ALL things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). Yes, even chronic pain and illness.
My point is simply that health is relative. Someone once said that the difference between a weed and a flower is merely judgment. Sure, you can get scientific and prove the saying wrong, but the crux of my thought is that we can never truly know what God is up to. Who are we to say that our difficulties are weeds, and our neighbors apparent blessings are flowers? Blessed are those who know Christ and have a hope of perfect unity with God one day. Life is undoubtedly hard (very hard for many), but God is always close, waiting for us to trust Him with childlike faith. He longs to hear us cry, “Abba, Father!” Trust God. Whether you are sick, tired, sad, upset, confused, troubled, stuck, or riding a wave of good times and joy, always trust God. You are right where God needs you to be. Walk in faith and stay in prayer.
When we are on our knees, praising God for Christ’s redemptive work on the cross, begging to know God more, and seeking His will and glory above our own, THAT is when we are most healthy.