So, I just read some pretty shocking statistics.
According to a recent study conducted by researchers at three well-known universities, 97.3 percent of Americans fail when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle.
The standards weren’t that high either. They simply asked if people get a moderate amount of exercise, eat right, maintain a healthy weight and refrain from smoking–all things doctors routinely recommend.
And yet only 2.7 percent of Americans could say “yes” to all four.
I knew American isn’t exactly a healthy nation, but wow, that’s worse than I thought!
In fact, did you know that an astonishing 70 percent of American adults have chronic diseases? Or that more than 75 percent of the nation’s healthcare cost is spent on managing and treating these conditions?
What about the fact that over one third of American children are overweight or obese? Or that this generation of children will be the first to have a shorter life expectancy than we will?
That’s a sobering thought.
And the worst part is, our poor health isn’t just affecting us physically – with numerous medical conditions, an obesity epidemic and more – Our poor health habits are affecting us spiritually as well.
Here are four ways this happens…
1. Your Energy Level Suffers
It’s no secret that when your health suffers, your energy levels suffer too, but have you ever really considered what this lack of energy is costing you?
How would your spiritual life be different if you had more energy?
- Would you get up a half an hour earlier to read your Bible and pray before you start your day?
- Would you have the energy to volunteer in the church nursery or go visit a few elderly ladies who can’t drive to church any longer?
- Would you get together with your best Christian girlfriends that you haven’t seen in way too long or finally take the time to meet your new neighbors to invite them to church with you?
- Would you participate in your church’s volunteer days or take on an extra side job to raise money for a good cause?
- Would you make it through a few more pages of your favorite Christian Living book at night before you dozed off to sleep?
The good news is, these are all pretty easy changes — you just have to decide you’re ready to make them.
2. Your Self-Confidence Suffers
While we often think of self-confidence in relation to our physical appearance and self-esteem, our self-confidence has an amazing impact on our spiritual life as well.
When you feel good about yourself…
- You’re more likely to welcome the new person at church or approach a stranger at the store you feel the Lord is calling you to talk to.
- You’re more likely to worship whole-heartedly, without being held back by worries of what others are thinking about you.
- You’re more likely to share your own testimony, because you feel more confident than ashamed in who you are and who you are in Christ.
- You’re generally more pleasant, welcoming and warm to others, who need to sense those things in order to find their way back to the Church.
Feeling good about yourself isn’t just a matter of looking good and knowing it, of course. It’s also a matter of knowing who you are in Christ and being content in that. That’s just more difficult to do when you’re not happy with yourself on the outside.
3. Your Time and Attention are Invested Elsewhere
Sure, getting healthy takes time. But have you ever considered how much time your unhealthy lifestyle is costing you? Depending on the seriousness of and nature of any conditions you may have, it may be quite a bit. After all, even small amounts of time can really add up.
Just consider the time you spend:
- Researching your condition online – what it is, possible remedies, connecting with others who have similar ailments…
- Visiting the doctor – including the time spent figuring out the issue, finding a good doctor, calling to set up appointments, travel time, and of course the appointment itself
- Picking up prescriptions – researching brands, doing cost comparisons, driving to the pharmacy, actually picking up your order
- Looking into other gear and remedies (depending on your health condition)
- Dealing with the insurance company (ugh, this is the WORST)
- Keeping track of and paying your medical bills
How much more time would you have in your life if you didn’t have to do all of these things?
4. What You are Able to Do is Significantly Reduced
Now, this one won’t affect everyone, but for those of you whom it does affect, it’s a big one.
When battling certain health issues, there are some things you simply cannot do.
- Your chronic pain may prevent you from attending church as regularly as you’d like.
- Your overwhelming medical bills may prevent you from tithing and giving generously.
- Your extra weight may prevent you from helping out because your body physically can’t handle standing on your feet too long, much less running or lifting.
And while it may be tempting to just say “Well, that’s just the way it is. I can’t help it.” the truth is that we have a lot more control over our health than we think.
At some point, there comes a point when we have to decide whether we’re okay living a life that’s just okay or if we’re ready to do whatever it takes to grab hold of the amazing life that God has for us (even if that’s only to the best of our abilities).
Are you currently struggling with any health issues? Have you ever considered how they might be holding you back spiritually?