“In this day and age, we may not fear the next comet (or do we?), but we do worry about something less rare: the report of an abnormal medical test.”
– Bob Cutillo
She was in her car, waiting in the line for the handicapped. For those unable to stand in the long line wrapping around Manna House Monday night, the back dock was serving as a drive-through area to pick up the free Thanksgiving food.
She rolled her window down and we chatted. I asked if she needed prayers for anything because don’t we all?
Her answer woke me up.
Yes, she said. Health care. I’m scared. I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to get health care under the new President.
I listened to her. Because fear of pain and sickness is real. For all of us.
If there’s anything that can ruin our plans, it’s a breakdown of our body.
Pursuing Health in an Anxious Age
Although it wouldn’t have been helpful Monday night to tell my new friend about a book I’d just finished reading, I can tell you about it.
It’s Pursuing Health in an Anxious Age by Bob Cutillo, MD. It isn’t a long book (~200 pages), but it is a deep book.
It offers important discussions on something we all care about: our bodies.
In the book, Cutillo addresses our need to feel in control of our bodies. We like to think: If I live right, take the right medicines, and trust in God enough, I’ll be fine.
But we all get sick anyway.
It shouldn’t surprise us. Cutillo reminds us we were created as dependent beings from the very beginning.
We have limits.
“Our limitations are not out at the edge of our existence but at the center of our being. If our limits were at the boundaries, we could always push them farther and farther out, applying our reason and developing our technologies and solving the problems that limit us at the edges of our lives.
But that is not who we are and how we have been made; our limits lie at the middle of our creaturely existence and, if truth be told, we don’t like that.”
We don’t like the hurts we already have, and we’re often fearful about the unknown pain yet to come. If we’re old enough, we know how vulnerable our bodies are.
Body as Blessing
But we’re not left without hope.
“Because God came in a human body, a new perception of the body is offered.”
Our body is a gift and “intimately connected to our destiny.” Each of our bodies—even with their limits—has a direction and intentionality to carry out.
Our bodies may be vulnerable, but they are purposeful. We are more than our diseases.
“If the form of our body is not incidental but essential, the sooner we embrace our body, the sooner we embrace our destiny.”
And the ultimate physical death we each have to face? As believers in Jesus, we know death has been defanged.
“When we don’t ‘cling anxiously to life,’ we are freed to embrace it more fully.”
Health in Community
Cutillo’s concluding chapters are about living as community. We share this vulnerability of broken bodies with every other living being on the planet. He elaborates in the book on these three points:
- Seeing you depends on seeing me in you.
- My health depends on your health.
- The health of society depends on how it cares for its poorest members.
We may not enjoy bearing each other’s pains, but it is a godly mandate for everyone’s good.
“To permit the pain of another to come near because we know that we are likewise vulnerable is also a burden—but better to be burdened than buffered and blind.”
In the end, the best hope I could offer the scared woman in her car Monday night about future health care was that, regardless of what happens next, we would stand together, with God in our midst. She wouldn’t be alone. Together is always stronger.
This woman may or may not ever read Pursuing Health in an Anxious Age, but if you can and I can, perhaps we’ll stay motivated enough to keep the proper perspective, not only about our bodies, but about each other’s as well.
* * *
How do you handle physical pain? Have you already faced your fear of death? What happened? Please share in the comments.
My thanks to Crossway
for the review copy of this book
- No Pride in Giving, No Shame in Taking
- Ten Books I Recommend – November 2016