God's Gift of Good Health
I’m writing this article on Thanksgiving Day here in Maryland, and my heart is full of praise and gratitude to God for His wonderful gifts of life and good health. Yes, I get sick and I’m fighting a cold right now; and yes, I get tired; and yes, I’m probably a few pounds heavier than I should be for my height. But despite all of these, I’m still able to do the things I want to do with my family and at work, and I’m thankful to God for the ability to think and move around freely. My body and my health, these are blessings from above.
Yes, I get sick and I’m fighting a cold right now; and yes, I get tired; and yes, I’m probably a few pounds heavier than I should be for my height. But despite all of these, I’m still able to do the things I want to do with my family and at work, and I’m thankful to God for the ability to think and move around freely. My body and my health, these are blessings from above.
Stewardship and Christ's Rule
As I write, I’m also thinking of my grandfather, Puni Ierome, a Samoan chief and orator who lived life to the full until he died in his sleep one Sabbath morning in 1967. He was 106 years of age. Up until the time of his death, he was still able to read his Bible and could engage anyone in conversation without losing his focus. His was an example and a testimony to what can happen when people make it a priority to take care of their bodies and minds, and follow a few basic principles for healthful living. This is biblical stewardship—living life under the rule of Jesus Christ, and honoring God in the way we live and do things in the world (Rev. 14:6,7).
Health Is a Spiritual Discipline
Now, I would be the first to admit that my grandfather was not perfect and he had his own challenges with health and life during his lifetime. He did get sick at times. But it is also a fact that he lived longer than many of his contemporaries, partly owing to his Christian faith and the lifestyle he followed after becoming an Adventist believer. Health for Puni Ierome was a spiritual discipline. It was more than not eating pork or abstaining from alcohol. It was a life that was constantly submitted to the will of God. I know this to be true because I spent the last four years of his life with him.
Balance Is Key
While Adventism meant a total change in lifestyle for Puni Ierome and his family, it was the emphasis on balanced living that he valued. He knew that there was a close relationship between eating right and longevity, and he understood the importance of rest—including cessation from the mundane activities of the first six days of the week in order to worship God on the seventh day, the Sabbath. He was fully aware of the benefits of exercise and physical labor as he worked the fields early in the morning, rested in the afternoon when the sun was too hot for comfort, and went fishing in the evening. He didn’t have a motor vehicle, so he walked everywhere. If his fellow villagers or extended family were to go on special long distance trips along the coast, they would travel as a community in longboats. When it came to nutrition in the village, fresh tropical fruits and vegetables were plentiful in the gardens and there was an abundance of good drinking water for the family.
Social health in community
There’s one other invaluable element in healthful living that I believe contributed to my grandfather’s longevity, alertness, and peaceful demeanor—right to the end. That one quality was the part played by social relationships and human interactions.
Building rapport and good relationships with people, both within one’s own family and the larger community, as well as in the church, can have positive effects on one’s wellbeing and overall health. And while it is impossible to be stress-free in this world, we‘re strongly counseled as Christians to love one another, and to live in peace with all people (Heb 12:14; Rom 13:8). Stewardship is about making the right decisions early in life, and creating an environment where people can live together to accomplish God’s purposes in the world.