Healthy living has its limitations

We are living in perilous times.  Even though time and again we hear of positive breakthroughs for the virus to be contained, yet the attempt in keeping at bay the damaging spread seems illusive.  Just as we begin to heave a sigh of relief, celebrating high hopes that life will be back to normalcy very soon, worrying outbreaks dampen it all.

The effects, even as we live in what has been described as the new normal, that is, the wearing of masks, social distancing, quarantines, stay-home orders, and working from home, can arouse severe negative emotions.  Such distancing from people can lead to stress, anxiety, and physical problems.  Thank God for our government in mitigating these challenges.

To meet emotional wellness, there are programmes made available for one to tap into, to keep one mentally alert.  As for one’s physique, it is recommended that one should get involved in some form of physical exercises to keep in shape.  All these are well and good.  We are grateful for such provisions and reminders to keep fit both emotionally and physically.

Thankfully, the Bible is not a mysterious book that speaks only about ethereal issues?  No, it refers a lot to very simple everyday truths as well.  For instance, it makes the sensible assertion in 2 Th 3:10, ‘He who does not work, let him not eat.’ This is an age-old truth that calls for us to earn our keep and not be slothful in life.  Speaking of emotional wellness, Prov 17:22 remarks, ‘A joyful heart is good for medicine, while a crushed spirit dries up the bones.’  This is a simple statement of truth and fact that medical doctors agree. 

Hence, the Bible is not just a Book that disregards the everyday affairs of life.  Yet, having said that, it puts all such everyday events into proper perspective.  For instance, while giving regard to the importance of physical exercises, it provides a caveat that while valuable, it ranks them as of little value.  No, it is not belittling the value of physical exercises.  It is making a comparison with something that is of much greater value.  Paul says in 1 Tim 4:8, ‘for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.’

The Bible explains that while bodily exercises enable us to stay trim and fit for this present life, godliness prepares us to be fit both for this present life and the life to come.  By godliness is meant for us to be involved in spiritual exercises, like Bible Reading and Prayer.  These seem like Christianity 101.  However, it will be well for us to consider if what we know is only theoretical.  How are my Bible-reading habits and prayer life doing?

For instance, in speaking of the draw of God’s Word in Ps 19:10, the Psalmist exclaims, ‘More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.’  Do I have the same kind of passion for God’s Word in a world where materialism is more to be desired than anything else?  Or consider prayer.  The Psalmist speaks of the pure delight in being found in God’s presence with the words in Ps 84:2, ‘My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.’

Hence, it is not so much as knowing the importance of such basic spiritual exercises as Bible reading and prayer but getting down to doing it.  Five months of 2021 have come and gone.  Rather than being preoccupied with Covid-19, may we use it as a platform to get ourselves spiritually healthy.

Richard Lai