In the space of six hours, I found myself having the same conversation with two different people. This is not uncommon for me, as I have found many of my friends, family, and acquaintances are struggling with similar issues, so I have become an evangelist of sorts advocating change and offering hope.
My story began years ago, but the catalyst to change occurred around four years ago. I’ve always struggled with digestive issues, but one April morning I found myself waking to excruciating abdominal pain requiring an expensive ER visit that yielded no diagnosis for the cause of my pain other than inflammation – I’ve since learned that many chronic health issues are related to inflammation. For several years leading up to this incident, I heard the whispering of God’s voice in my heart encouraging me to make a change in my diet. I was fascinated with the gluten-free diet and celiac disease. I didn’t want to make such a drastic change in my lifestyle, and I found it very easy to reason away my symptoms as being normal. After all, every time the TV was on, commercial after commercial advertised a pharmaceutical for IBS, making my situation seem very normal. I realized that chronic conditions, such as IBS, are common but they are not normal.
Change is hard. Contemplating eliminating wheat from my diet was overwhelming and disheartening, never mind how IBS was interrupting and inconveniencing my daily life. But that April morning my body declared enough was enough. After the ER visit, my body recovered from the pain within several days and I returned to my typical diet, the standard American diet also known as SAD. About a month later, my family was dining at a restaurant; and before I finished my salad, I was in the bathroom pooping out the salad I had just eaten. This continued throughout the meal and day, forcing me to keep close to the toilet and not to eat anything else that day.
I knew I HAD to change. And I knew instinctively (the voice of God) that I needed to go gluten-free. I purchased a book that advertised gluten-free recipes with a 30-day meal plan. It happened that it was a Paleo book, which unknown to me was also dairy free, grain free, and processed foods free. I didn’t know it at the time, but Paleo was precisely what I needed. My body responded so favorably within just a few days that I couldn’t believe the energy and stamina I had. I could not remember EVER feeling this good because even as a child, I struggled with chronic fatigue. The energy was an unexpected side effect of being off of gluten, but the intended side effect of healing my gut was also showing up in normal stools. Another unexpected side effect of changing my diet was the ocular migraines I had been having for several years completely disappeared!
It wasn’t an entirely smooth transition though, and there were definitely issues to work out, food allergies to discover, and I did eventually seek help from a functional medicinal provider. But, I had begun my road to health, and God led me down the path that brought *healing and health to my body.
*I will address what I mean by healing in the next part of my story.
Even though I was experiencing a health revival, I was struggling with the difficulty of preparing real food and not being able to eat out at the drop of a hat. Eating real food takes time and is not convenient; cream soup over chicken in the crock-pot is not an option, nor is a burger and fries from the drive-thru. The go-to spaghetti and meat sauce is more complicated because pasta is out and is replaced with a vegetable, which requires more hands-on prep than boiling water.
I came to the Lord with my heart’s cry. “God, wow! I see the benefit of eating better food, but Lord, I know you can heal me right now.” The Lord asked me a question. He said, “If I heal you, will you go back to eating the way you used to eat?” “Yes,” I replied, “I’m sure I will.” Then He said, “Your healing is in eating right.” He also revealed an interesting truth to me. He said, “Dorothea, convenience is a god, and so many of My people are sacrificing their health at the altar of convenience.” My jaw dropped, and my heart was deeply convicted because I too had been sacrificing at the altar of convenience; and not only for myself but I had sacrificed there on behalf of my family, lifting up their bodies all for the sake of time, ease, and instant gratification.
I accepted the path the Lord set before me and began to walk with a better attitude. I decided to be thankful for good health and for the healing that came through food. In return, not only did I feel better, but God gave me supernatural contentment to walk the walk. I’ve found as long as I remain thankful and reject a victim mentality, the Lord girds me with contentment. I can be around others eating “regular” foods and not feel completely deprived or tempted to ditch my whole foods way of life.
Another thing the Lord revealed along the way is about self-love. Jesus said we are to love others as we love ourselves, indicating the ability to love others is rooted in a healthy love of oneself. The degree to which we are willing to make and sustain healthy choices for our bodies and lives reflects the degree to which we love ourselves (this goes for relationships, and other life choices too). If we love ourselves, we will make healthy decisions to prove it. I hate taking the bowl full of supplements assigned to me, but I had to tell myself day after day, “I love myself so I will take these.” Now it’s just habit, and there’s no question as to whether or not I will take them.
Sometimes it seems that others get to eat the junk and the convenience “foods” without any negative consequences. But as I began this article mentioning two friends struggling with chronic health issues, what seems to be true on the surface, may not be an accurate reflection of what’s going on within a person’s body. I don’t think anyone can look at the health of Americans as a whole and deny that we are riddled with many chronic, lifestyle diseases. All of these issues are not like my digestive issues (like Type 2 diabetes, Rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, etc.) but most are rooted in chronic inflammation or some other negative result of habitual food abuse. Eliminating inflammation-causing foods like gluten, dairy, processed foods, refined sugar, and other grains, would go a long way in helping resolve these conditions.
I recognize that food may not wholly solve everyone’s problems one hundred percent, but I am convinced that it should, at the very least, be the place to start. A wholehearted 30-day elimination diet should be tried by anyone dealing with any chronic health issue. What is there to lose? Nothing but sickness and fatigue, but you have everything to gain, like your life back. Maybe all your issues won’t resolve by the simple lifestyle change, but I am convinced it will help and it certainly will not cause harm.
Here are my final thoughts: As I was praying for my friends, I sensed the Lord saying that we have an enemy and he is fighting against us on multiple fronts, like convenience, poor nutritional content in food, GMOs, Round-up, etc. But if we are out of sync with God’s design for our bodies, i.e., the food God designed our bodies to run on, how can we really expect God to heal us supernaturally? To ask God to keep us healthy while filling our bodies with junk food (poison) is asking God to break the law He designed and instituted.
Let me address Mark 16:18 which says, “they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” This scripture is true for those who believe in Jesus and who are engaged in His assignment to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) But how do we apply it to our everyday life?
To answer, I am reminded of Jesus’ response to Satan when tempted to throw Himself down so the angels would catch Him. Jesus said, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” The scripture Satan quoted to Jesus referred to God’s covering and protection over Jesus that nothing could come against Him to harm Him, but Satan perverted it and tempted Jesus to test God by deliberately throwing Himself down to see if God would indeed have the angels catch Him. Jesus understood the promise was in place to keep Him safe from unseen forces that would seek to harm Him, not necessarily to cover a deliberate act of testing.
I believe the promise of Mark 16:18 is the same. It is to protect us from unforeseen dangers that come our way while propagating the Gospel, not for a daily disregard of reason. An example of the promise in action is when Paul was shipwrecked. A viper came out of the firewood and bit him. He was expected to die quickly, but miraculously he didn’t, and that incident became an open door for the Gospel! Paul didn’t willfully handle the viper, testing God’s promise, it just happened as Paul was heading to Rome on God’s assignment.
Friends, the Gospel is not to supernaturally cover us as we willfully and knowingly violate God’s design for our body’s needs. It is time to sever our love for convenience and discontinue sacrificing our lives and those of our family on its altar. It’s time we demonstrate our love, respect, and honor for our body by immaculately caring for the temple of God that we are. I’ve encouraged my two friends, and countless other friends and family members, to give a change of diet a chance for 30 days and see what happens. You can do anything for 30 days, and you are worth the effort. God’s kingdom is worth your effort. God has plans for us, and He needs us to be able to accomplish His plans, but when we are chronically sick and tired, what are we really accomplishing?
If you are wrestling with a chronic health issue, I encourage you to come out of hiding, quit denying the issue, bravely determine not to cover up the problem with pharmaceuticals*, and embrace God’s design. He will meet you when you take a step!
*I am not advocating the abrupt discontinuation of prescribed medication, but to seek help in doing so. Many prescription medications only cover up symptoms and never address root causes. I encourage you to seek a doctor who will work with you to find and treat the root cause of any disease and regulate the dosage of your meds as you, hopefully, need less of it. I also encourage you to research clean eating diets, such as Paleo, Whole-30, Keto, and AIP to name a few.