The Paragon of Health

Couple of clear facts:

1. Our bodily and mental health can be attacked, harmed, even ruined by disease. Good, wholesome, sound, vigorous life: obviously, that’s what we are made for. But on this fallen earth, a battle constantly rages between health and all the forces that jeopardize it.

2. Almighty God wills our health and well-being. He became man and healed sick people. He embraced the ultimate threat to bodily health, namely death, so as to overcome its power. God made man has Personally attained permanent bodily and mental health in heaven. He give us the hope of attaining it, too, when the battle of this pilgrim life is over.

Okay, so these two facts are clear. Where we can encounter controversy, however, is in the area of: In what, exactly, does health consist?

Rod of AsclepiusSome distinctions are easy, like: It is better not to have the flu than to have it. But sometimes we cannot distinguish between health and disease so easily.

For instance: Is being able to get pregnant a disease? Doesn’t seem like it is. But apparently more women take pills for it than for anything else. Is getting old a disease? Well, a lot of people have surgery to try to counteract it.

Is feeling guilty a psychological disease? Maybe sometimes it it. But, of course, more often than not I feel guilty because I am guilty of something.

See what I mean? Defining “healthy” can sometimes involve a great deal of controversy.

We need a “gold standard” of health, so to speak. We need someone whose complete soundness of mind and body provides the example with which we can compare all other cases. We need a flesh-and-blood yardstick of total human health.

Who else can it be, other than the Lord Jesus Himself?

And this helps us in more ways than one. On the one hand, there are plenty of things which some people want to call “healthy,” which Christ certainly never would have touched with a ten-foot pole.

On the other hand, the Lord Jesus—even though He never suffered the ravages of disease or old age—He did voluntarily accept suffering, for the sake of attaining the higher, eternal life. In other words, He has shown us that patiently submitting to bodily suffering—bodily suffering for which no real remedy is available—accepting this is, in its own way, perfectly “healthy.”

It is not “unhealthy” to recognize our bodies’ limitations and the effects that our mortality has on us. To the contrary, to accept the reality that death will eventually come for all of us—this acceptance is consummately “healthy.”

May the good Lord grant us all true health, “health” in the deepest sense—which means union with the gold standard of health, Jesus Christ, crucified and risen.

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