“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16 11)
Growing Dominion, Part 16
Pain demands that attention be paid to it. But so does imagined pain. The body, like any complicated bit of machinery, requires maintenance. But some take maintenance to an extreme, forgetting that the machine is to be kept in running order so that it may do other things. How much time does the car spend up on blocks, and how much time on the road?
In short, how much attention to health is too much attention? Like all such questions, there is no fixed answer which says that “no more than two hours a month should be spent on disease prevention.” A host of other issues enters into the equation – does the person have a terminal disease, what are their general risk factors, are they generally known to be a hypochondriac cry baby, and so on? The questions that disease prevention and treatment raise should be evaluated on the basis of the way they are raised.
Often this is a matter of the unspoken assumptions. If someone breathlessly tells you that eating this or avoiding that will extend the average life span by six weeks, the assumption is that these six weeks are more precious than gold. But is that how it should be? And if you do that other thing over there, then you won’t die of colon cancer. To which the response should be, “Oh? What will I die of then?” In other words, if the unspoken assumption is that I have a right to not die, then my unspoken assumptions are at war with how God is governing this fallen world. If our duty is to think God’s thoughts after him — and it is — then we ought to focus on health to the same extent that God does. Winston Churchill once defined a fanatic as one who can’t change his mind, and won’t change the subject. The same thing is true of the health fanatic.
We should run a spiritual inventory on all our possessions, and on all our occupations. We can make an idol out of anything. If a man spent ten hours every week washing and waxing his car, then whether or not he is being idolatrous is reasonable question. If someone spends the same amount of time counting out the vitamins, then the same question should arise — and this is not an argument against taking vitamins, or having a car that looks nice.