Over and over again, we have argued that pursuing health is an ethical decision: We must learn to be stewards of all that God gives, including our bodies. Having said this, we must notice the real difference between the “pursuit” of health and “being” healthy. They are not one and the same, and the realization of this fact has led some to give up on the whole idea altogether, but does this have to be the case?
Much of the time, good health is the good result of a thoughtful lifestyle, full of proper diet and exercise; however, even the healthiest lifestyle does not guarantee good health. This is a difficult reality to accept, but, when healthy-living people fall ill, they must be able to process such realities without falling prey to unnecessary guilt and disappointment.
As a mater of analogy, think of the ethics of driving a car. Driving a car in a responsible manner is not just good advice, but is an expectation from the government and others using the same roads. We seldom ask, “What’s the point.” However, being the safest driver on the road does not guarantee safe travel. There are factors outside our control as we make our daily journeys here and there. Likewise, there are factors outside our control that even the best diet and exercise plan cannot prevent. This can seem to put a damper on everything, and it does for many.
There are some negative people who ask from time to time, “If disease and death await us around every corner, why must we concern ourselves with health?” There is from time to time a sense of futility in light of uncertainty and inevitable death. Death awaits us all, and it might be as soon as tomorrow, so why discipline ourselves today?
As any discipline proves, much of the time, the process of discipline is unpleasant, but produces results in the long term. However, the reward of the long term is always overshadowed by the uncertainty and inevitability of death. What if there is no long term, at least in terms of this life. If I die, want it all be for naught? If today might be my last day, why not eat that cheesecake and enjoy avoiding working out. If I make it to tomorrow, that is all the better: time for more cheesecake.
This is a tempting way to think in light of those disciplines we do not enjoy, but I always come back to asking myself this question: Is my life so shallow that it would not be worth living unless I had that last piece of cheesecake? Is the sum of my worth equal to the fleeting pleasures I have been able to have? Perhaps my life matters more. Perhaps the valuable disciplines that I invest myself in, even those that pertain to the health of my mortal body, have value beyond mortality.
If we merely assume that the benefit of the pursuit of health is mere physical health, then we might be right to be a bit skeptical of investing so much time into something that has no guaranteed return. If death makes futile all the physical and dietary discipline we invest in, what is the point? But, what if there is more to the pursuit of health beyond a long healthy life? Next Friday’s post will consider the answer to the question, “Does investment in physical health have any value in light of eternity?” Until then, ask yourself this question:
“Do I believe that when all is said and done in terms of this life that the sum of its value will be based on the amount of pleasure I was able to collect, or is there more to my worth than shallow, worldly pursuits?”