Psalm 107:19-20 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
He sent forth his word and healed them;
he rescued them from the grave.
I have seen and heard verse 20 quoted many times, but not so often with verse 19 and rarely if ever in the context of verse 17, that talks about the sins that triggered the illness in question. We do love to cherry-pick promises from the Bible, but we don’t like to pay attention to the context. It is true that since we live in a fallen world, not all disease is the direct consequence of sin, but far more is than we like to admit. And for that matter, there are sins that have a direct impact on our health, such as gluttony, that we don’t like to admit are sins as well! The official name for the rehab center where Cathy goes to help deal with her Parkinson’s Disease is, “Tomonaga Center for the Prevention of Lifestyle Diseases.” Cathy herself started going there before her formal Parkinson’s diagnosis because she had been told she was “borderline diabetic,” and needed to lose weight. In the eight years since, she has lost over 28 kg, and would be far more of an invalid had she not done so. The healing that is mentioned in this passage is predicated on repentance, that is, a willingness to change, and a reception of the Word that God sends in relation to the situation. Far too often we want health without a healthy lifestyle, the blessings of God while ignoring His precepts. It isn’t politically correct to talk about the far higher mortality rate for COVID-19 for those who have type-2 diabetes, or just general obesity, but that doesn’t change the statistics. That said, being a “health freak” doesn’t automatically make you pleasing to God! Many people who focus on physical health totally ignore their spiritual health, refusing to acknowledge that our physical bodies are decidedly temporal. Once again we are back to Jesus’ instructions to “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33) That applies in absolutely every area of our lives, and brings untold rewards.
Since my father died of heart disease at 64, I have tried to be careful to recognize risk factors and avoid them, so as to be a good steward of the body I’ve been given. I do walk regularly, and have recently started planking, which is something I hadn’t really registered as being an effective exercise until quite recently. I enjoy a very good level of health, particularly for my age, but that’s not really the big issue. I need to be focused in on obedience to God, on seeking His kingdom and His righteousness before and above everything else. I am to feed on God’s Word regularly, and not just in emergencies! And as a pastor I am to lead others to do the same. Consistent personal devotions are perhaps my highest goal for those in my care, since each one needs to learn to hear and listen and obey the soft voice of the Holy Spirit. If they will do that, they will enjoy not only good health but also more blessings in general than they can now imagine.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I always feel somewhat awkward writing about health, since Cathy has so many health issues that are not the result of disobedience to You. I do pray that Your health would be manifested in her body, on this side as well as the other side of her “graduation,” for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!