Wednesday 8 May 2019

When Good Health Became My Idol

Christians and health

I never assumed my health could ever become an idol. I suppose I always took advantage of being a generally healthy person. It wasn’t until my good health was stripped from me with four months of a mysterious illness that I could see it for the idol that it had become.

I laid in my bed exhausted from carrying the sharp pangs of pain that daily coursed through every muscle and joint in my body. My brain could barely keep up with daily conversation, my heartbeat was irregular, and my blood pressure dropped so low the world would spin every time I stood up. I pleaded with God, “Lord, if you would just heal me than I can do more for You!” Yet, wave upon wave of my mysterious illness seemed to knock me over, and defeat was settling in.

Poor health was almost embarrassing to discuss among church friends, that should’ve been my first red flag that I had placed too much merit on this growing idol. I felt ashamed, like somehow I got it wrong and everyone else got it right. Admitting I was sick was like admitting my faith was weak. I knew that not to be true, but I couldn’t escape the feeling that I was a subpar Christian because my health took a hard hit. Looking back on it, I can see now that Good Health sat on a throne and became the dictator by which I measured my life with. 

It wasn’t until I was allowed to struggle in my pain that a profound truth began to sink in. Freedom isn’t free from, it’s free to. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, we are free from sin, but when we became free from sin, we became free to love and be loved by God without interference. Freedom isn’t being free from sickness, overwhelming circumstances, disease, debt, etc., it’s being free to be loved by God. When the chain of your sin was broken by the Lamb, interference from God’s love was abolished for all your eternity.  You do not need to be free from your circumstances to be free to love and be loved by God. 

We pray “IF you...THEN I will...”, but sometimes our “if” doesn’t come, and if the “if” doesn’t come, we are no less saved, no less loved, and no less desired by God. Your health will never distract God from his plan for your life. It will never cause him to place you on the back burner to make room for a healthier alternative. 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:35, 37 emphasis my own)

In all these things, your distress, your persecution, your situations, you are conquerors through Christ. In your bed, wheelchair, pain, illness, less than ideal circumstances you are still prevailing. Why? Because not one single element of what plagues your life is enough to separate you from the freedom of receiving God’s love. Not one single aspect of your illness is enough to cause God to stumble in his desire to be near you. Not even a negative attitude is enough to push God away. In fact, I learned that as my misery grew, He drew closer. 

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18 emphasis mine)

Not even my misery was enough to turn God away from loving me, and being near to me. 

Having good health as an idol assumed that every other aspect of my life depended on my health for me be worthy. In doing so it lowered God by assuming that he can’t possibly love me or use me if I am sick. It assumes we are useless if we are imperfect. 

Wrong. Dead wrong. 

You are loved, you are desired, you are free.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)


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