As a retired full-time minister, I have observed many different people during my career. Some of them did not take good care of themselves and often bemoaned or even hated life. Others had much more positive outlooks, viewing life as a gift from God and embracing all of the good that life offered them. With respect to the latter, I have noticed that most of them made an effort to take care of themselves, even through times of suffering and disaster. Let me tell you what I have learned from them.
First, they viewed their bodies as a marvelous gift that allowed them to be mobile and active. They knew the importance of exercise, so they walked, ran, played sports and enjoyed an energetic life. When a bone was broken, they realized that a doctor's help would be necessary, but they also knew they had an important part to play. For example, my mother-in-law had both knees replaced at the same time. Determined to walk again, she did her exercises daily and remained positive about life. Mending of the body often requires something from us in addition to a doctor's treatment. Isaiah 38:16 (NLT) says, "Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health."
I have watched many others who intentionally have worked on improving their minds. I believe that keeping our minds challenged, alert, and interested in some special aspect of life is healthy for us. Reading, doing crossword puzzles or learning a foreign language are just a few of the possible activities that could improve our minds. The Apostle Paul has a good suggestion in Philippians 4:8 (TLB), saying, "Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about."
I also have seen many people who have found great comfort in their souls. They possessed what Jesus talked about in John 14:27 (TLB): "I am leaving you with a gift - peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn't fragile like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid." Some of these people were dying from cancer, losing limbs or suddenly beset with a condition from which they could not be restored. Nevertheless, each of them was at total peace, experiencing a sublime comfort in their soul and expressing a smile on their face.
Finally, I have seen people befriend the heart of another. These are folks who extend a helping hand, offer a listening ear, give a glass of water to one who is thirsty and call or write to their friends. Instead of being a temporary when-it-is-convenient friend, they touch the heart of another, and become a genuine friend. As it says in Proverbs 17:17 (MSG), "Friends love through all kinds of weather."
The positive people I have met regarded their lives as a gift from God, and they endeavored to take care of themselves. They helped their bodies mend, improved their minds, found comfort in their souls, and befriended the hearts of others. We all can learn from them. Take care of yourself!
- LeFeber is a retired American Baptist pastor who now lives in South Williamsport.