Bible Verses: John 21:12-15, 1 Kings 19:4-9
Life is exhausting, especially when we are seeking to please the Lord and we have failed. Nothing wears us out like our own sin. In times of failure and exhaustion, we know we need a touch from God, but sometimes we can’t hear him. So what should we do?
While there are many spiritual answers that would be appropriate (read the word, pray, fellowship with other believers, resist the devil), the Bible often points to one aspect of our life that we frequently devalue: taking care of our bodies.
The Bible Says Taking Care of Our Bodies Is Essential to Hearing God
It’s interesting to note that before Jesus reinstated Peter in John 21 after his betrayal, Jesus took care of Peter’s body first. Jesus made sure Peter ate a warm breakfast and had a full stomach before he began speaking words of healing to Peter’s heart.
Likewise, when Elijah was crying out to God that “I have had enough…take my life” God sends him an angel who instructs him to eat some bread and drink some water (1 Kings 19:4-9). Only after these men had taken care of their bodies did God feel it was the right time to speak to their hearts.
We certainly should not elevate our physical needs over our spiritual needs. Jesus first told Peter that if he hoped to avoid betraying Jesus, that Peter should forgo sleeping and instead, “Watch and pray, that you might not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Matthew 26:41). But we also should not forget about the importance of our physical life.
The Bible Says Take Care of Your Body By Providing Its Needs
Just as our spirits have needs, our bodies have needs that directly affect our ability to focus, to feel motivated to work, and to feel rested and not lethargic, unable to focus on the things that are important to us.
So many times we feel frustrated that we can’t get up in the morning to spend time with God by praying and reading the Bible. When we fail over and over again, we sometimes start blaming our passion for the Lord, demonic attacks, or some other spiritual issue. But perhaps the reason we can’t get up to pray and read the Bible is because we have not submitted to the way God has made our bodies to need adequate sleep. If we went to bed earlier, then we would be able to get up earlier.
Or maybe you are tired of getting home from work and instantly yelling at the kids because you are hungry and tired. Every weekday is the same old story: dad comes home angry, and he only lightens up after he eats some food. Perhaps you would sin less if you were to eat some food on the car ride home. Then, in the time before dinner is ready, your body will feel less inclined to yell in annoyance at the kids for being kids.
While these methods of taking care of our bodies with the intent of avoiding sin and staying connected with God may seem anti-spiritual, the Bible says we must do all that is in our power to avoid sinning.
Notice that when Paul is instructing husbands and wives on overcoming sexual temptation, he gives them some super obvious advice, focusing on taking care of their bodies and spirits, “Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Corinthians 7:5). In other words, if you are married and your body is craving sex and you want to avoid falling to temptation, don’t over complicate things people: just take care of your body and go have sex with your spouse! Paul even goes as far to say that when people are single or they are engaged, but their body is burning with passion, the obvious thing to do is to get married and have sex (1 Corinthians 7:8-9, 36).
The Bible Says Taking Care of Your Body Is a Means to Taking Care of Your Spirit
Notice in each of these examples, taking care of the body is not put in place of taking care of the spiritual needs. Rather, taking care of our bodies is used as a means to better take care of our spiritual life as well. Indeed, if you only take care of your body and not your spiritual life, you will be far worse off than if you neglected your body but took care of your spirit.
What Is God Saying to You About Taking Care of Your Body?
If you are struggling to connect with God, don’t forget the physical reality which God has made. Maybe God is asking you to eat healthier, start exercising, or start getting more sleep. Maybe you are spending enough time in the word and the problem with your lack of joy is that you are not spending enough time taking care of your body.
Jesus wanted to speak words of healing and love to Peter. But before Jesus spoke words of love and life to his heart, he first made Peter eat some breakfast. Perhaps God may be saying the same to you, “I want to say something really important to you, but I know you won’t hear me as well if you don’t _________ (you fill in the blank: sleep, eat, run, have sex with your spouse, get some fresh air, etcetera…).”
May we not forget that the Bible says taking care of your body is very important so we will be able to better receive what God wants to do for our hearts.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own…
-1 Corinthians 6:19