Shalom: A Toast to Health

It’s January, a time when many people resolve to improve their health. Perhaps you’ve thought about a similar New Year’s resolution after indulging in Christmas cookies and hot chocolate!

I’ve been a nurse for more than 40 years (yikes!), and I’ve cared for people all across the span of life to promote their health and prevent chronic illness. I’m passionate about health and wellness, but I don’t always practice what I preach. I’m also realistic about the difficulties we face in trying to achieve a healthy lifestyle.

Often, overloaded leaders sacrifice self-care during demanding seasons of ministry. We may eat high-calorie foods when we’re bored, emotionally drained, traveling, or just because it tastes really good. (I confess: I’m a chocoholic who craves sweets when stressed.) We check emails and texts late at night and then can’t wind down to sleep, or we crowd our schedules with commitments and then don’t have space to get exercise and rest.

So…we’re beginning a new year. Will you commit to thinking of your body in a new way? The Bible reminds us that our bodies belong to God, and we bring honor to God when we care for them.

The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

In the Scriptures, the word shalom means “wholeness” or “health.” It describes harmony in all relationships: with God, with others, with self, and with the environment. This holistic view of biblical shalom reflects God’s desire that we live at peace with everything around us, including pursuing health for ourselves.

Consider these tips to get started on a fresh journey to health in the year ahead:

  1. Give yourself permission to take care of your physical body. Set priorities. Practice Sabbath rest. Don’t worship the idol of your “to-do” list.
  2. What are your excuses for ignoring your health? Confess them. You’re not invincible. Take care of what you have. You can’t change your DNA, but there’s plenty you can do to influence your physical well-being. Your effectiveness in God’s kingdom depends on how well you take care of your body, mind, and spirit over the long haul.
  3. Share your needs, commitments, and goals with another person. Find an accountability partner who cares about your health and well-being. Discipline takes effort. Invite others to encourage you in the changes you want to make.
  4. Pay attention to the condition of your heart. A nurse friend often says, “What is in the well comes up in the bucket.” Keep your spiritual well full of living water (John 4).

Finally, give thanks to God for the gift of life, for you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Shalom!

This post previously appeared on InterVarsity’s Collegiate Ministries blog.

Jane Hall joined NCF in 1997 after serving on the faculty of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas. Previously the NCF Director, Jane now volunteers with NCF, assisting nurses in ministry in their local communities.

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