Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Health Care and Christmas

Over two thousand years ago, God came to earth in the form of a newborn baby. At the time, the world was in chaos, and humanity was desperately struggling for survival. Not much different than today over two millenia distant from a night in the Judean hills in a little backwater town called Bethlehem. This was the most unlikely place for a king to be born. There was no press release, no parade, no announcement in the Jerusalem Times, and no crowd pressing in around the baby and his very young, bewildered parents.

There were, though, a handful of visitors including some smelly shepherds, some animals in the cave were they were staying during the birth, and probably no one else. Joseph and Mary were likely exhausted from the trip they were forced to make back to his ancestral town in obedience to the Roman census that was underway. There was no lodging available as the entire area was full of travelers who were doing the same thing--going back home to be counted. Yet, here he was. Emmanuel--"God with us." He came for the redemption of a world gone mad, and to heal the sick and redeem mankind from eternal separation from a holy God.

ChristianAnswers.net has information about how many of the facts about Jesus' birth have been distorted over time by countless retellings of the story. The actual time of the year and exact location of his birth are not really known but have been put into our collective conscious thought from traditions handed down over the centuries. Despite human misconceptions, however, the actual facts about Jesus are more marvelous than words can express. He was indeed born of a virgin in the city of Bethlehem exactly as prophecied many years before. Jesus was conceived in Mary, not by man, but by the Holy Spirit of God. As the apostle John reveals, Jesus existed before the Creation of the world (John 1). He is part of the Holy Trinity we know as God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). The Son of God came in human form for a purpose—to die as a willing sacrifice in payment for the sins of mankind. He did this to provide eternal salvation as a free gift to all who will accept it and follow Him.

The gifts we celebrate at Christmas are a material representation of what happened when God the Father gave His Son to mankind as the ultimate expression of love. Jesus is the Gift of Gifts. Many times, people often confuse a relationship with God with how spiritual they feel. According to FamilyDoctor.org, spirituality is the way you find meaning, hope, comfort and inner peace in your life. Many people find spirituality through religion. Some find it through music, art or a connection with nature. Others find it in their values and principles. Spirituality is related to health. And, it seems the body, mind and spirit are connected. The health of any one of these elements seems to affect the health of the others. Some research shows that things such as positive beliefs, comfort and strength gained from religion, meditation and prayer can contribute to healing and a sense of well-being. Most medical practitioners believe that improving your spiritual health may not cure an illness, but it may help you feel better, prevent some health problems and help you cope with illness, stress or death. If you are being treated for an illness, it's important for your doctor to know how your spirituality might be affecting your feelings and thoughts about your medical situation. If you think your spiritual beliefs are affecting your health care decisions or your ability to follow your doctor's recommendations, tell your doctor. If you have spiritual beliefs, worries or concerns that are causing you stress, talk with your doctor. Your doctor would like to help. If your doctor can't help you with these issues, he or she may be able to suggest someone who can.

Believers in Christ will avow that the spiritual life they lead will definitely be affected by their health. No one in their right mind would agree that being sick makes us happy. However, what most people don't realize is that even in the midst of terrible suffering or illness, a peace and joy can be possible when the focus is not on the pain but on Jesus. This is not channeling, counting beads, yoga, or saying countless mantras over and over. It is learning to allow His strength to comfort you both in good and bad times. Dealing with sickness and disease on a personal level can be disastrous on your spiritual life if you try to handle those issues on your own apart from a meaningful relationship with God. There are always questions of why suffering, illness and death happen to Christians, even those who appear to be the most faithful. Your health affects your spiritual life, and your spiritual life affects your health. You are never promised a life free of difficulties or trials, only the fact that you will be comforted in the midst of pain.

According to SchoolforChampions.com, there are three primary ways to allow your spiritual life to have positive impact on your health:
1.)Be Forgiving--You must forgive others and forgive yourself. Forgiveness frees you from hate, forces you to examine your motives and demands that you give up the need to be always right. When you hold back forgiveness, you let things eat away in your heart. This cannot only affect your spiritual health, but it can also be detrimental to your physical and emotional well-being.
When you forgive someone who has harmed you or done you wrong, you not only free yourself of the burden, but you actually gain power over the situation. Anger or revenge only escalates the problem within your spirit. But forgiveness does not mean you must continue to deal with the person. Some good expressions to remember are; "Forgive and forget" and "to forgive is divine." Forgiveness is an important step in maintaining your spiritual well-being.

2.) Be Grateful--You should be grateful and thankful for the blessings you receive. Every time you have a negative thought, countered with a thought of gratitude the more you contemplate your blessings, the more you feel the changes in your emotional and spiritual outlook. The worst habit is ingratitude. If you feel gratitude, you will be amazed at the changes in yourself, your health, your relationships, your career—your entire life.

3.) Be at Peace--You need a personal peace that will disconnect you from the disquieting or threatening thoughts. Personal peace is the knowledge that all is well and understanding that God has everything under control. It becomes a reality when we shift our focus from problems we cannot solve to a higher vision of hopefulness.

Physical and spiritual health are inter-connected way beyond our comprehension to understand completely how one affects the other. Those who have taken advantage of the true Gift of the Season know that to be true. Others still searching for the Gift are caught up in the spirit of the season, but do not know the truth of its meaning. They are just trying to make it to the New Year. Giving and receiving gifts are part of Christmas and should never be downplayed as unimportant. However, the focus should be placed more on the Reason for the Season. Without Christ, there is no Christmas. Without God, there is no Gift. Without hope, there is no future. Without eternity, there is no meaning to life. He came to give life, and life more abundantly regardless of your physical health. When you consider your health at this Christmas time, remember The One responsible for sustaining life. Give Him the praise for what He has done. Emmanuel.

Until next time. Let me know what you think.

1 comment:

cheap custom dissertation said...

This is a very thoughtful post and it has urged me to think about the real meaning of life. God has created us to praise Him and be thankful for what he has bestowed us.