Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, November 27, 2022
Thanksgiving – Part 3… “It Does A Body Good!”
by Dr. Raymond Finney
FIRST INTRODUCTION– MIND, BODY, SPIRIT: This past Thursday, November 24, was America’s Thanksgiving Day. In two earlier RRs this month, I discussed what men and women say and what the Bible says about giving of thanks to and offering praise to and worship of God. I group these three activities together because I feel they are variations of similar displays of appreciation for God’s goodness and blessings.
I hope you enjoyed the festive celebration of Thanksgiving Day, surrounded by family and friends and an abundance of food from God’s bounty.
And, I hope you remembered to give thanks to God from whom all gifts flow (James [Jacob] 1:17): Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. .
Giving thanks to God pleases Him, and it also benefits a person’s health. Compared to an ungrateful person, a grateful person is healthier and happier and may live longer.
We humans are formed of three parts– mind, body, and spirit. These three parts interact with each other in magnificent, miraculous, God-ordained ways to form the person each of us has become. Although we are still learning more about how these three parts function together– and some physicians are clueless about the way the spiritual aspect connects with and influences the physical and mental aspects– we enjoy optimal health (wellness) when all three aspects are active and functioning in harmonious concert in a person’s body. A person who lacks the mental aspect… or, lacks the physical aspect… or, lacks the spiritual aspect is incomplete, just as a three-legged stool is unstable, if one of the three legs is shortened, wobbly, or missing.
John understood the connection between the soul– the spiritual part of a human– and health (3 John 1:2): Loved ones, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul.
It is in vogue today to recognize “illness” as a deviation from good health and to recognize the opposite of illness as “wellness.” Healthcare workers in the know understand that wellness is achieved by a blend of activities that strengthen not only the mind and body but also the spirit.
SECOND INTRODUCTION– “IT DOES A BODY GOOD:” In the mid-1980s, the sale of dairy products began falling. Dairy producers initiated extensive advertising campaigns. We saw billboards, with people sporting “milk mustaches” and asking the question, “Got milk?” And, young, attractive persons held up glasses of milk, assuring us, “It [milk] does a body good.”
Borrowing this campaign slogan from the dairy producers, I wish to emphasize, “Praising/ giving thanks to/ worshiping God does a body good.” That is:
● If you exercise your brain, you get smarter and more mentally agile.
● If you exercise your body, you get stronger and faster.
● If you exercise your spirit, you grow in faith and communion with God. Faith exercise involves worshiping and respecting God in Three Persons.
FAITH AND HEALTH CONNECTION: A large body of evidence is accumulating in what is called the “faith-health connection.” Google Scholar retrieves more than two-million (>2,000,000) articles on this topic alone, and there are subdivisions of this topic that number into many more options.
SIDELIGHT: If you are bored and want to read these two-million articles, go to Google Scholar, https://google.scholar.com . In the search box on this site’s home page, type and enter, faith and health connection . Happy reading! END sidelight.
I am surprised– but pleased– that this much research and thought have been devoted to the relationship between religious faith and health. We have spent much time, talent, and resources researching two parts of the human organism– the body and the mind. We need to spend more time, talent, and resources researching the third part of the human organism– the spirit.
From the beginning, Elohim created humans in three parts (Genesis 1:26-27): Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness! Let them rule over the fish of the sea, over the flying creatures of the sky, over the livestock, over the whole earth, and over every crawling creature that crawls on the land.” God created humankind in His image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them.
The Triune God is the template for humans created in “the image of God.” If humans are made in the image of God and if God is a Trinity (three Persons, with each Person different from but the same as the other two Persons), is it not reasonable that humans would be created as a trinity of parts– spiritual, physical, and mental? Although each part is distinct from the other two parts, all parts act together to form a whole, unique person.
SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT OF THE HUMAN ORGANISM: We are familiar with the importance of physical and mental development of a human being. To this end, we train many physicians, nurses, and other health healthcare personnel; we train many teachers; we build hospitals and schools; enormous amounts of tax and private dollars are expended for healthcare and education; we take drugs and supplements by the handsful; we exercise and try to eat healthfully; we search for the next Fountain of Youth; we are bombarded by health and wellness advice from all angles; we want our children to be the healthiest, smartest, and brightest; and so forth.
Physical and mental well-being are important to us. Unfortunately, many persons neglect the spiritual development of themselves and their families. They neglect spiritual development in the home and in worship communities of the ekklēsia– “the called out [ones]” – more commonly known as churches and synagogues. For many persons, spiritual development of themselves and their children is optional. They boast that they are atheists or agnostics. Polls show that corporate and private worship of God is rapidly declining. Yeshua knew this would happen in the last days (Luke 18:8b): [Yeshua said] “… But when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” The last church, patterned after the assembly at Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22), is detested by Yeshua because it is lukewarm and ineffective.
I mentioned that a few-million research papers have been published on the spiritual development of a human being. Since I did not quite finish reading all of these research papers this week in preparing to write this RR, I will offer only a very few, broad generalizations.
Spiritual development brings present-day and eternal meaning to life. Several of God’s prophets wrote that they were called by God to fulfill missions, even while still in their mothers’ wombs. God not only calls prophets, I believe He has called you and me for certain missions. I do not have delusions of grandeur that I am as important to Christendom as, say, the Apostle Paul, but in my own meager way I think I have contributed a little. And, I hope you are contributing a little, too.
Many famous and not-so-famous persons have uttered memorable phrases (quotations) about leaving this world better than they found it. James Naismit’s quotation is typical: “I want to leave the world a better place for me having been here.”
After you die, will the world be a little better because you lived here your brief life? If the world is a little better and you worked for God and man to the best of your ability, given your circumstances, your life has been a success. You may qualify to hear a most blessed commendation uttered by Yeshua (Matthew 25:23): “Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful with a little, so I’ll put you in charge of much. Enter into your master’s joy!”
If you are serving God, even though it may seem meager in your eyes, you may be fulfilling His wishes for your life. I have before used in these RRs Yeshua’s beautiful, sensitive love and appreciation for the poor widow who put her two small coins in the Temple’s treasury box, while rich braggarts put much greater sums of money in the treasury (Luke 21:3-4): And [Yeshua] said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all the rest. For all these put in their gifts from their surplus. But she, out of her poverty, put in all she had to live on.”
SIDELIGHT: Ray Boltz wrote a song, “Thank You for Giving to the Lord,” which is apropos of this discussion. Hear the song at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-3BJrG791A . Read the lyrics at: Thank You For Giving To The Lord Lyrics – Ray Boltz (lyricsbox.com) . Taking a few minutes to listen to this song is worthwhile, even though Boltz takes a little artistic license from the Bible text in writing his lyrics. END sidelight.
Outcome differences in work for God’s kingdom vary by opportunities, gifts, and callings. You probably will not lead great crusades, write important books, lead congregations, and accomplish other “important work” for God’s Kingdom. If you have only “two small coins” for the Kingdom, as did this poor widow, give your “coins” willingly, thankfully, and expectantly. God can use your gifts, no matter how small you regard them. What does the Creator of the Universe need with a human’s gifts? Service and love of His children are things He will not create for Himself. Love from one whom He created is something God apparently craves but waits patiently for it to be given voluntarily to Him. Why would God even want our love? This question even perplexed David (Psalm 8:5a): What is man, that You are mindful of him? I cannot answer David’s question.
SIDELIGHT: It is okay to have more questions than answers. A giant of our faith– the Apostle Paul– was also perplexed by unanswered questions, which he called “mysteries.” The Millennium is a long time (one-thousand years). Could it be that we Believers will attend “school,” taught by angels, to learn the mysteries of God and have all questions answered before we enter through gates of pearl into New Jerusalem (Heaven)? I was a poor (super lazy) student in high school and college. (I was bored.) Extreme fear of failure and paranoia (reality?) that “they” were out to get me caught my attention in medical school and I worked very hard for the four years I spent there, finally becoming a pretty good student. If we do have a “school” during the Millennium, I will look forward to every class. One question I hope to be answered is: On Earth, why did good people suffer, while bad people prospered? I think I may know part of the answer, but I would like to hear an angel’s explanation. END sidelight.
It is God’s will that we thank Him for all He has done for us, and that we thank Yeshua for His sacrificial death. If you and I live in God’s will, we should
● Experience greater happiness (joy). Yeshua promised us joy and happiness (John 15:11): [Yeshua said] “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and your joy may be full.” Paul explained that joy and peace come from God (Romans 15:13): Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and shalom in trusting, so you may overflow with hope in the power of the Ruach ha-Kodesh. And, many other verses, too numerous to include in this RR, assure the Believer that his/ her eternal life will be overflowing with joy because of faithfulness in service to God in the earthly life.
● Feel more gratitude to God and our neighbors, experiencing tranquility (Philippians 4:6-7): Do not be anxious about anything– but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the shalom of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Messiah Yeshua.
● Experience more compassion and forgiving love for all around us (Ephesians 4:32): Instead, be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving each other just as God in Messiah also forgave you.
● Improve social connections– relationships with other Believers and our neighbors (1 John 4:20-21): If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar. For the one who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him: that the one who loves God should also love his brother.
● Cope better with stress (John 14:27): [Yeshua said] “Shalom I leave you, My shalom I give to you; but not as the world gives! Do not let your heart be troubled or afraid.”
● Develop and grow more positive relationships (1 Thessalonians 5:11): Therefore encourage one another and build each other up– just as you in fact are doing.
The following are a very few benefits of practicing a strong spiritual life:
● The immune system is strengthened. Improving immunity through a strong spiritual life enhances immune processes that improve the body’s ability to heal itself and ward off attack by dangerous disease-producing processes.
● Spirituality connects the body with deeper meaning. Humans understand death is inevitable. Humans wonder if there is a greater power– a God– to whom they are accountable. Humans wonder if there may be more meaning to life than the few short years of life on Earth.
● A strong spiritual life reduces the effects of stress. Stress takes a major physical and mental toll on humans. A strong spiritual life reduces the effects of everyday stress.
● Hypertension (high blood pressure) is called “the silent killer,” and millions of Americans knowingly or unknowingly have this condition. Millions take anti-hypertensive drugs, causing an increased burden to the nation’s healthcare costs and possibly having side effects.
● Insomnia is a major concern for many Americans. Insomnia may be caused by stress and inner turbulence in the mind, which blocks the quantity and quality of restful sleep. Allowing Yeshua to take some of a person’s cares may lead to better rest and sleep (Matthew 11:28-30): [Yeshua said] “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and ‘you will find rest for your souls.’ For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Guilt over past sins, whether real or imagined, may cause such internal turmoil that a person cannot rest or sleep, but God will forgive any sin, if asked properly (1 John 1:9): If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
● Many other health benefits stem from a strong spiritual life, which includes being thankful to a Supreme Being, but I do not have space to list more. If you are thankful for God’s gifts to you, if you love your neighbors, if you offer praises to God, and if you worship God, you will be in better standing with God and you will live a healthier life. In other words, worshiping God “does a body good.” Improvement of health and well-being in this life and promise of eternal rewards in the next life sound like a winning proposition to me! Until next Sunday, Shalom and Maranatha.
Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sun 27-Nov-2022 3rd of Kislev, 5783
Ge 28:10-22 Jdg 21 Ps 44 Mk 3 (Ro 14)