(Author’s Note: There are so many great scriptures pertaining to our physical and spiritual health. Many of them have encouraged and convicted me, and I will share a few of them here scattered throughout the text. However, as I was reading Psalm 107 recently, I came to the realization that this is the perfect passage to tell my story because it tells of God’s faithfulness . . . over and over again . . . to a broken people. “Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies” (Psalm 107:2). The following is a testimony of God’s faithfulness to me during a very dry season in my life.)
“Some wandered in the wilderness, lost and homeless.
Hungry and thirsty, they nearly died.”
Make me healthy, whole and complete in You. This was my prayer day after day. As I pounded the pavement walking around my block, I would say these words over and over. Sometimes, it was only a request, and other times, it was a desperate plea. At twenty-eight, I had spent years reinforcing unhealthy habits. It was time to change. I never liked my appearance, but when I looked in the mirror I denied what I was seeing. Even when my college graduation gown looked more like a tent, I refused to see that I had a problem. My life was “ebbing away” (see Psalm 107:5 NIV), and God would not let me go so easily.
“Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom, imprisoned in iron chains of misery. They rebelled against the words of God, scorning the counsel of the Most High.”
I used to joke that I wouldn’t go on a diet because I enjoyed food too much. After all, God gave us taste buds for a reason, right? Truthfully, I had a problem with dependency. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:12, “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything” (ESV, emphasis added). Repeatedly, I would turn to food for reward, enjoyment and especially for comfort. I sought satisfaction where there was none.
“He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom; he snapped their chains. Let them praise the Lord for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. For he broke down their prison gates of bronze; he cut apart their bars of iron.”
In the summer of 2011, as I was beginning my journey to better health (I still refused to call it a diet), I had been reading a book that encouraged me to invite someone with me on the journey – a sort of accountability partner. I could think of no one better to encourage me than my best friend. Surely, she would jump at the chance! Whether out of a misunderstanding or because she did not feel the same conviction, she said no. I was crushed. But looking back, I can see God’s hand at work. Food wasn’t the only thing that had me trapped, feeling empty and unsatisfied. I was also prone to turn to relationships to fill a deep longing in my soul. God stripped it all away, and I walked through the loneliest time in my life.
“He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves.
What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor!”
Psalm 107:29-30 (emphasis added)
I often prayed asking the Lord, if You will not change my circumstances, will You at least make it more bearable? But the Lord persisted in His “no” to both requests. There would be no instantaneous, miraculous healing or a continuous outburst of joy. He did something much better. The Lord reminded me that He alone is enough. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 ESV). He whispered, Even if you don’t have what you think you need, I am enough. Even if you are abandoned (by people in this world), I am enough for you. It was at this time, I began to practice fasting. Not just from certain foods, but from addictive habits and distractions. This produced both great physical and spiritual benefits. “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. . . . I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food” (Job 23:10, 12b ESV). He was more than enough for me.
“He sent out his word and healed them.”
By mid-summer, people were starting to notice an outward transformation. I would often get asked, “How? What are you doing?” My answer was always the same, “Eating right, exercise and lots of prayer.” I said this with a chuckle, but it was the absolute truth. God was healing me. The fact that I now was enjoying my time exercising was in itself a miracle. (Seriously, I dreaded gym in school, and track was the worst. Now, my times walking/running are some of my most precious moments of worship and prayer!) But it wasn’t only the physical that had begun to heal. Deep in my spirit, God was also moving.
After living so long spiritually malnourished, I had grown unaware of my truest need. Now that I was finally listening, He spoke truth and forgiveness into the places of hurt I hadn’t even known existed. It was as if I was standing under a waterfall of grace and healing. His word came alive in my soul, and I felt His conviction to not let it sit there and grow stagnant, but to apply it to my life. It was incredibly painful at times, but it was absolutely worth it.
“For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.”
Psalm 107:9 ESV
Make me healthy, whole and complete in You. God answered my prayer in a BIG way. One of the lessons I learned was “God is more interested in [my] character than [my] comfort, and he’s more concerned about [my] holiness than [my] happiness” (Rick Warren). From that season of “uncomfortable grace,” God called me to places and gave birth to dreams I couldn’t then fathom. One year later, our family would move across the state boundary, and I would begin teaching and sharing the Bible with women just like me—hungry, thirsty and seeking satisfaction. I still struggle—especially in times of high stress when I crave fatty, greasy foods and loads of chocolate and during times of hurt when I seek a sympathetic ear to hear my complaints. In these times, I need, I want to remember that He is enough for me and I am already complete in Him. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3a ESV, emphasis added).
This is what I want you to know . . . He is better than food, relationships or anything this world has to offer. He is enough. He can heal you. His redeeming work on the cross will complete you. God was (is) faithful in my life. He heard my cries for help and rescued me from my distress (see Psalm 107:6, 13, 19 and 28). He longs to do the same for you (see Isaiah 30:18 NIV).
“Those who are wise will take all this to heart;
they will see in [my] history the faithful love of the Lord.”
April 13, 2016
Playlist: Rend Collective’s Campfire
*Portions from Psalm 107 taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©2007 by Tyndale House Foundation.