Personal responsibility for health is one of the most important pillars of our healthcare system. Great advances in medical research give us access to expensive treatments that are covered by the healthcare system. People’s life expectancy is increasing.
Just in spite of the progress, our society is not getting healthier. The prolonged lifespan is not coupled with a better quality of life. The healthcare system is becoming more and more difficult to maintain. We cannot just rely on politicians and health insurance companies to preserve or regain our health. Health policy always stands in the field of tension between society and the individual. Where is our personal responsibility?
A motorist races along the highway. Suddenly, an indicator lamp lights up on the dashboard. The car is quickly steered onto the hard shoulder. Where is the error? What needs to be done to make the car work properly again? It is the V-belt of the alternator. The next workshop is approached and the damage repaired.
If we paid the same attention to our body as we did to the status symbol car, our well-being would be better off. The car we take regularly to the inspection. What about prevention for our body? Going to the doctor, the check-up or more?
Provision for our Health
It is crucial what priority we give to a healthy lifestyle. This includes a sensible diet, sufficient exercise, an intact environment and the right mindset. It is largely up to us to prepare the way for health to come along naturally. This requires our maturity.
A study has shown that about 37% of our health depends on our lifestyle. 29% depend on the genetic make-up, whereby the lifestyle determines largely, whether the genetic make-up really comes into play or not. 24% of our health depend of the environment and only 10% is due to curative medicine.
Our health is both a gift and a task. Right principles must guide us, because illness is nature’s effort to free the body from conditions that have mostly arisen through transgression of the laws of health.
There is a saying that we die twice. The first time when we stop learning. This saying is true especially when it comes to our health. Let’s not bury our heads in the sand. It is our task to learn how our body works. When studying physiology, we really learn to appreciate our body and understand why we should do some things and leave others behind.
Our body is a real marvel, conceived by a great Creator. The same Creator wants us to be healthy and happy. But he also shows us the way to do so in his Word, the Holy Scriptures.
The Instruction Manual
Whenever we purchase a household appliance or a machine, we study the instruction manual. We want to benefit from our investment as long as possible. And yet a machine becomes obsolete relatively quickly. It ends up in the garbage, because it is outdated or worn out. But how long do we want to get along with our body? 75, 80 years, if it is much maybe 100! And there you should not study and follow an instruction manual?
The biblical principles are a foundation we can rely on. They are not going to be knocked over by fads and trends. The most important principles are probably free will and love. Free will makes me responsible. It is up to my free will to decide whether I want to accept God’s counsel. And the Bible is full of them. Let us just read carefully once again the wise proverbs of Solomon.
Personal responsibility means to find a proper response to life’s questions, setting your own impulses, take actions to consume sensibly. Social pressure triggers consumption. This manifests itself in smoking, alcohol, diet and fashion. Am I free to stand up for my own decisions and bear the consequences?
Above all, Love
But living healthy alone is not enough. Exercise alone won’t keep me healthy. We must let God’s love into every area of our lives. God’s love and loving our fellow beings keeps us healthy and heals us. Surely you have experienced that for yourself. If you like someone, you have somebody special in your life, your life is different. You get strength, you approach problems in a completely different way. If we contemplate the beauty and love around us, this stimulates our hormones. Endorphins – happiness hormones are released. This makes life healthier.
There is always one who loves me – God and Jesus Christ, His Son, who loved me so much that He gave His life for me. This knowledge helps me to love my neighbor as well. This makes life more joyful and enjoyable. This has a positive effect on health.
Realize the Value of Health through Illness
We can do our part to maintain our health, or often regain it through a lot of patience if we lost it. It was certainly not the intention of our Creator to harm our body, which He prepared so wonderfully (Psalm 139:14). The cause for illness and hardship is usually man’s disobedience to God’s laws. From Hippocrates comes the saying: “Diseases do not attack us out of the blue, but develop from daily tiny sins against nature. When they have accumulated, they seem to burst out all at once.”
Diseases are also triggered by mental misconduct. Selfishness, guilt, fear and excessive demands can make people physically and mentally sick. We know the term “psychosomatics” for this. Even here my personal responsibility is important. Do I want to torment myself with negative thoughts or do I seek help from God and from my fellow human beings? The decision is up to me. Another thought about responsibility: No one is sick on their own. His environment always suffers. That’s why the saying: “I can do whatever I want with my body” is actually wrong. If I’m not well, my loved ones suffer with me. I also have a responsibility for them. There is responsibility in love.
The Purpose of Disease
Is there any purpose in illness at all? If there is, we normally do not grasp it immediately and we do not want to explore this topic here. But there is one thing we can do after every recovery: Set the course anew, execute our good resolutions, manage well our resources which are limited, and above all be grateful for the regained health.
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Esther Neumann studied Nutrition at the University of Vienna. Since then she served as an author for the health magazine “Leben und Gesundheit” and conducted health lectures in various locations of Austria.