Stewardship of Our Bodies

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Sande Bargeron 8.24.21

Beloved,

You might be wondering why there would be a devotional section on a website predominantly dedicated to teaching you to care for your body. It is precisely because I am teaching you to care for your body, that I wish to speak to your heart. We are not divided beings, whose spirit is alive in Christ and then who care nothing for the body that He so thoughtfully and carefully created us.  Indeed, we are told that one day these bodies will be made whole and taken into the presence of God himself (1 Corinthians 15:52). Life itself is a precious gift from the Lord and we are called to care for the gift of life that He has entrusted to us. We call this stewardship.

As I have studied the world of holistic health, I have discovered that those who practice this form of self care always place a heavy focus on the spiritual. This is, of course not contrary to the way Christians see the world- we are body AND spirit- but the difference is that in most holistic circles, the answer is to empty your mind, to connect with some divine being (undefined) or even divine nothingness, or to speak your truth of well-being into existence. As Christ-followers, we see things quite differently. While we agree that the spiritual being must be nourished, we choose to trust in the only One who can heal our souls to do the healing, instead of finding the strength within ourselves. We trust that the One who knit us together in our mother’s wombs (Psalm 139:13) and who knows the numbers of the hair on our heads (Luke 12:7) and who keeps all our tears (Psalm 56:8), is far more capable of binding the brokenness of our hearts than we are on our own.

There is also a caution that must be heeded when stepping into the world of self-care. The caution is that we become self-reliant and build for ourselves an idol of self-care, while also feeding idols in our hearts with which we already do battle- the idols of comfort, security/control (to name a few). Precious sister or brother, be assured that the Lord knows your physical struggles, your suffering and your pain and He has not abandoned you. He desires to redeem our suffering by helping us to grow in Him and to find your source of your strength in Him. Find comfort and hope in His promises, which have never failed to be fulfilled. The goal is to see Christ more deeply and grow to be more like him as we walk this short time on earth. 

I know many know this verse:

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 ESV). But consider the verse that follows:

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Romans 8:29 ESV

The good mentioned in verse 28, is defined in the following verse as being conformed to the image of Christ.  This is the ultimate good and our goal as we long for being reunited with him eternally. The word of God is full of comfort for the suffering. It is not a book that is blind to suffering–no–but one that gives us hope and purpose in our suffering- PRAISE GOD! 

I was reminded of the tender compassion of Jesus towards the suffering in a sermon given by my pastor several months ago on Mark 5:21-34. In this passage we find Jesus arriving from gentile (non-Jewish) territory, having healed a demon possessed man. He steps onto land on the other side of the sea and is met by one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus, who pleads with Jesus to come to his home and heal his dying daughter who is twelve years old. Jesus, by this point, had made a name for himself and crowds were pressing against him as he followed Jairus through town toward his home. 

In the midst of the chaos and throngs of people, we are introduced to an unnamed woman: “And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was not better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, ‘If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.’”  (Mark 5:25-28 ESV ) An unnamed woman.  Sick for twelve years. Her sickness was also isolating- she would have been considered unclean and cast aside in her suffering. Because of the strict laws of the Pharisees, she would have been separated from everyone because of her “uncleanness” (her illness)– from her family, her friends, her faith community. She had used up all her resources and had nothing left. Nothing and no one. In a desperate-coming-to-the-end-of-herself move, she places her whole hope in Jesus to rescue and restore her.

How does Jesus respond? “And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” (Mark 5:29-34 ESV)

At first glance, you might miss the compassion, but that’s where historical context makes the Word come alive! You might be thinking, “Why would Jesus want to draw attention to this woman; hasn’t she suffered enough already? Why make everyone look at her? Besides, wouldn’t he already know who touched him?” Remember, this woman did not just suffer with a broken body, but broken relationships and had been alienated from her community. But Jesus, the one the crowd had come to see, the man who had already become known for healing the paralytic, healing the man with the withered hand, for his teachings, for calming a storm-  that Jesus- drew out the UNNAMED WOMAN from the crowd so that everyone would see her. They would look at the unnamed, the unwanted, the outcast woman. They would see her. He would look at her and call her Daughter, a term that, in all the gospels, was only used by Jesus toward this woman. Can you hear the gentleness and compassion in His address to her? One commentary said “ Jesus never called any other person by this name. Jesus wanted her <the unnamed> to come forth and hear this special name of tenderness.”

But there’s more: in drawing this woman out, he publicly declared her well before everyone. Remember, her illness was a condition that would have been less obvious than leprosy or paralysis or a withered hand, and if she suddenly proclaimed that she was well, it would have been met with suspicion. Jesus not only declared her as a daughter of the King of Kings because of her faith, but also took the time to restore her to her community.

This compassion is what I hope you see in the Savior, because he is abounding in it toward his suffering children. With the confidence of knowing you are loved by an infinitely Holy and profoundly compassionate God, step forward in faith and begin the work of caring for the body that He gave you.

Christ promises to give you the grace to endure your suffering when you cry out to Him and draw your strength from Him alone. Your suffering will give you a deeper understanding of the character of God and should make your worship more deeply as begin to understand that Jesus- the Holy, compassionate, perfect, blameless and infinitely powerful one- willingly suffered on your behalf to redeem you.  Set your mind on this profound truth as you seek to honor God with your body,  and guard your heart in this process,  as it is so easy to forget that caring for our physical bodies is an act of obedience and faith and not a guarantee of prosperity and perfect health. It is our opportunity to become more like Christ until we are one day finally reunited with Him eternally!

“14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16

My friend, draw near to the throne of grace as you walk this path of suffering, remembering that you are loved deeply by your creator. He has not left you alone.

Bible References:

1 Corinthians 15:52 “52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

Psalm 139:13 “13  For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.”

Luke 12:7  “Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Psalm 56:8 “You have kept count of my tossings;
    put my tears in your bottle.
    Are they not in your book?”

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