The ethics of death and dying and the ethics of wellness are certainly not opposed to each other, yet, at certain points in our lives, one has to take precedence over the other. At times, we must be willing to lay down our lives, if need be, for that which is greater. While we might want for a full life, we have to know that some things are worth giving our lives to and for. But, we live in a society obsessed with longevity.
The real issue here is not actually between wellness and mortality, but between virtue and desire. It is about keeping our heads on straight. When we ask the question, “Why be healthy?” the primary answer, as should be with every life decision for the Christian, should be, “For the glory of God our Father.” The answer should not simply be, “I want to live longer.” Without qualification, that is simply another way of saying, “I do not want to die,” which is not a terrible thing to wish to avoid, but it can eventually bring us down.
The reason that this is not about wellness versus mortality is that the two are not mutually exclusive. It is not as if we can either be well or mortal. We can be both. We can be healthy and still realize that tomorrow might not come. In fact, even if you are healthy, you have to be mortal. This is not always the case the other way around. In other words, being mortal does not mean we are healthy, but that is, of course, obvious. Too obvious unfortunately…
Yet, this does not mean that tomorrow doesn’t matter. We cannot simply throw away our health because there is no guarantee it will be useful tomorrow. The point is this: We have our health now, in whatever form it might be in. Some of us might have better health than others, but if you are breathing today, you have a measure of health. And, if we have a measure of health, we are given that health from God.
So, this is about perspective. If you are motivated day in and out to take care of yourself because of some futile desire to live forever, you are on the wrong track. You are too self-focused. This is not to say that a little desire is a bad thing. God likes to know the desires of our hearts. He enjoys having a conversation with you about such desires. But we need higher purpose. When we can balance desire and virtue, we will gain so much.
We need to learn to be virtuous. We need to learn to put the good before our own selfish wants. Taking care of what the Father gives you is an outward focused and virtuous act of being a steward of God’s good gifts. And here is the big kicker: By being outward focused, we often get the good desires of our heart. What we want and what God wants, while the motives might be different, are often the same.
Abraham wanted a son. God wanted Abraham to have a son. Abraham wanted a son to carry on his name. God wanted Abraham to have a son so that He could bless the world. Abraham placed his gift of a son at God’s feet. He did not let His desire blind him, and God allowed Abraham to have the desire of his heart. God used Abraham’s very human desire to bless the world.
Identify your desires, and then give them over to God. God often gives us desires to fit our calling, but until we can prove that the desire will not override the virtue for which it was given, God will protect you from the desire.
Lay your health and well-being before God (or whatever else you desire). This is not then a promise that God will allow you to keep it, but if he does, you will then be able to use it for His glory and not your own. And is that not the point?