Survival of the Fittest!

Good health is an asset, a very vital factor for one to enjoy life and experience happiness in its entirety. There is no doubt about this fact. This article I am writing is based on this important part of daily life and might even probably run the risk of sounding clichéd if I stress on the usual dos and don'ts of  maintaining sound health. One can easily access the internet and fish out that mine of information and be immensely benefitted in this area. So, in order to infuse a different view on this popular topic, I want to share some views on health as a believing and practicing Christian, traversing through the pages of the Bible.  

To start with, the source of good health and longevity is none other than our Creator God himself. As stated in Jeremiah 33:6 Behold, I will bring it health and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth”. Isaiah 58:11 says, “The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.  

It is disheartening to see that there is a deficit in health awareness in today’s world. Governments, health organizations, and individuals have come together and applied their wholehearted efforts in an attempt to make this world suffering and disease free. We have, starting from the apex authority on health, the World Health Organization (WHO) to local and primary level organizations tenaciously working to combat various health issues. Respect and kudos to all who dedicate their life and resources for this cause and this good fight must go on.  

Health can be classified into three subdivisions 1) Physical Health, 2) Mental Health, and 3) Spiritual Health. Many of us tend to focus on physical health alone and view it as the prime factor for well-being and longevity, and a key ingredient for happiness. But this is a very narrow understanding of the wholesomeness of health, for good health consists of all the three. In fact, in many cases, the mental and spiritual state has a tremendous   effect on the workings of the physical body.  

According to the Bible, death and degeneration had already set in our earthly realm ever since the fall of man and the entry of sin. Longevity and fruitfulness of the earth had been declining. Many view the Bible as a source of moral standards and conduct and guide for spiritual living only. But if we look closely, we can discover that our much loved Bible is a very practical book that is applicable to every aspect of life, and it has even a lot to say about health and well-being.  

There are many health ailments that have been categorized as lifestyle diseases. Naming a few would be obesity, hypertension, cancer, depression, stroke, heart disease, type-2 diabetes cirrhosis etc. When we look at our lifestyle and the choices we have made about our habits it has directly or indirectly led to many serious health issues.  

Health conditions like STIs/STDs and HIV/AIDS have very much do to with the life choices of an individual. A very gloomy and sad reality I got to know just recently is that Nagaland has the highest number of HIV/AIDS cases in India. There are 20-30 new cases every month just in Prevention of Parent-To-Child Transmission (PPTCT), Naga Hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK) centers alone, with the bulk of patients being the youth.  

Let's look at what the Word of God has to say about our bodies: In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, the Bible posits the question,  “Do you not realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who live in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself; for God brought you with a high price so you must honor God with your body.”  

This verse encapsulates the idea of what our attitude should be, with reference to our physical bodies. When we understand the original design that our creator intended for us, we won't waste our precious life making bad choices for our bodies. We will abstain and refrain from many foods and beverages as well as activities that the world deems pleasurable. When it comes to HIV/AIDS, again, the same principles apply. They say there is nothing as more effective as abstinence for this battle. This tenet is in accord with the word of God. Respect your body, keep it clean. God has our best interest at play. He knows the fragility of human beings and the consequences of sin in our bodies. The Bible is also peppered with verses that deal with our emotional and mental well-being . “A cheerful heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit makes it sick” -Proverbs 17:22. “Peaceful heart leads to a healthy body, jealousy is like cancer in the bones” -Proverbs 14:30 are just some of them. Research has proven how our thoughts and attitudes affect health. The Bible encourages us to have a positive attitude and to speak kind and positive words even to others, not to think ill of others, not to be driven by jealousy ,and above all trust in the Lord. We have too many worries in life which lead to stress and mental breakdowns, and our careless attitude and harsh words often wound people around us emotionally and disturb them mentally.  

It is true that when a person is physically sick, there are, most times, a deeper cause underlining the individual’s personality. Various researches, details of which flood the internet, point out that depression, anxiety, and stress are often very common reasons for various physical ailments. I had an uncle once, who always complained of high blood pressure. He consulted many doctors for treatment, but his blood pressure would always remain high. Eventually, through the intervention of his caring wife, he came to realize that the constant stress level his business gave him, was one of the main contributing factors of his ailment. As he would later learn to control his anxiety through healthy lifestyle choices and learning to live happily, his blood pressure levels finally came under control. Finally the Bible holds that sin is the main cause of physical sicknesses pointing out to stressing on our spiritual health and purifying our emotions, as without that, true physical health cannot be achieved.  

This view may sound radical, idealistic or imaginary to some. But let us not forget the fact that The Bible has been proven true in many ways. God knows us intimately. How we are designed, how we think, how we respond, how our bodies function, and what is best for us. We have been given the gift of medical science to better our lives – prolong and nurture it. 

As practicing believers, we are accountable to God about how we take care of our bodies. He is our source of life – the elan vital.  Wouldn’t He be pleased and bless us with more, if we are faithful in what He has already given us? I will leave you with this thought to ponder and act upon.

Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought will delve into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr. Hewasa Lorin, Anjan Behera, Nivibo Yiki, and Kvulo Lorin. For feedback or comments please email: [email protected].