The other day a frustrating thing occurred-again. I was sitting around with a group of women from our church when the subject of yet another very sick friend came up.
As usual the course of discussion went something like this: “Do you think this will affect her for the rest of her life?” “What kind of medication will she have to take?” And of course, “What does the doctor say?”
Now bear in mind, the person in question has a years-long history of severe health problems for herself and her family. Serious stuff. And I love her very much! That counts for something, right?
When this type of discussion comes up I usually keep very quiet, even back out of the room. After all, I am the health fanatic and nobody wants to hear what I think. So why not just melt into the background now?
Well, enough is enough! I could keep silent no more, something had to be said. I was choked with emotion as I chose my words carefully.
My discourse was short, and not well received. It was met with downward glances, fidgeting fingers, silence. One person afterward acknowledged that we rely too heavily on medication. Another, more friendly towards my opinions, encouraged me to contact the friend in question. And one other dear friend gave me that knowing smile, and a sense of camaraderie. But otherwise, in a group of women professing to be seeking and following God’s will for their lives, nothing.
It always upsets me that so many people intent upon following God in every part of their lives ignore this one, crucial area. After all, if we do not have health we can not fulfill many of the Lord’s desires for us. We must be helped instead of being helper.
Poor health destroys lives, negates the good deeds that might be done, diminishes the capacities of husbands to provide for their families and of wives to care for their households. It takes away the joy of children, and brings about heartache and hardship. It drains resources, and sucks the life (often literally) right out of us.
Dr. Rex Russell put it well in his book, What the Bible Has to Say About Healthy Living: “If we decide to pay attention to God’s design, health and blessing will follow, and God will be glorified in our lives. If we decide to ignore God’s design, the consequences can be dire indeed.”
The Good Book is full of instructions pertaining to every aspect of our health. Exodus 15:26 says: “If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His eyes, if you pay attention to His commands and keep all His decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord who heals you.” His promise to His people then still stands for us today.
From circumcision on the 8th day (the day when the blood-clotting factor Vit. K builds up to a life time crescendo) to the admonition against eating blood (Gen. 9:4) or unclean animals (Lev. 10:10), the old testament is filled with God’s wise advice for health. There is instruction in food, farming, sanitation, healing; most of these laws have in modern times been scientifically validated, but largely ignored.
The new testament books also claim their share of health-giving information including, of course, prayer, fasting, “a little wine for the stomach” (1 Tim. 5:3), and the use of healing oils (Mark 6: 13, James 5:14).
So where have we gone wrong? Well first, let me address a common perception.
People often incorrectly assume that before the age of modern medicine people just suffered and died, in multitudes, from the same afflictions we do today. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Yes, there were plagues and pestilence, diseases and death. Realize of course that people have not always followed God’s design for food, sanitation, and healing. The wealthy have over-indulged. The poor have been consigned to poor quality and limited food supply. Cities were built without consideration for proper sanitation. And hand-washing was not common practice in pre- Pasteur-era hospitals and clinics. The average life span in early 20th century America was very low not because people did not live long lives, but because conditions were so filthy and food quality so poor in the cities that infant mortality was very high. But if one were fortunate enough to survive past toddlerhood, he would indeed have a very good chance of living to a ripe old age!
So let’s consider our food.
In Gen. 1:29 God said, “I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food”. Also consider that Able raised sheep in those early days; was it just for the wool to cloth them, or was the First Family also drinking milk, God’s most perfect food?
The Promised Land was happily described as, “flowing with milk and honey”.
When Noah and his family left the ark, God told him to eat (clean) meat.
Even the angels ate meat, leavened (fermented) bread, curds (cheese) and whey! (Gen. 18)
All of these things are good, or they would not have been given to us or demonstrated as desirable.
In light of the above, compare modern “food” with that of people throughout bible times. In days of old, foods were whole (unprocessed, not devitalized). It was grown without chemicals of any kind. Animals were either wild or grazed on naturally rich forage. All people consumed some of their foods fermented (bread, wine, cheese, olives, etc.), and much of it raw. Organ meats were prized, and bones made into broth. Salt was natural and people would not do without it.
So why do we now condemn all of these things which God has said were good? A better question might even be, why did we change the way in which we raise and prepare these foods which in former times were the fount of health? And why do we now in all of our wisdom declare our processed “food”, stripped of vitality and devoid of nutrients, “healthy” and “good”?
It has always seemed curious to me that in the 6 days of creation, God never made a single food processing plant, grain silo, pharmaceutical, or hospital. Did He not, in all of His wisdom, know that we would require these things to live? And so it took the infinitely more wise modern man 6000 years to correct our Creator’s oversight!
We are as a nation and as a culture, sick. Just plain sick. And the answers to our problems are always more drugs, more doctors, more hospitals; with no thought of the food which we put into our bodies (other than to eat more manufactured junk in place of whole, life-giving foods). Do we not realize that we are, truly, what we eat?!
God has supplied us with everything we need to live an abundant life upon this earth. We just need to recognize and return to His nourishing and healing ways! Let’s return to His garden, His pasture. Let us embrace His healing ways; the herbs, oils, foods, and prayer which are our sources of health and healing. God’s medicine cabinet is full of good things! These medicines are not quackery or the delusions of fanatical, misguided people. They are God’s ways, and His ways are always good. Even Hippocrates understood these principles when he declared, “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food”.
This is my choice for myself and my fam