Daily Devotions

Cindy Crawford's Body

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“No longer drink only water, but take a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

 

As most of you know, I take shots and mitts full of pills to address the Ulcerative Colitis I was diagnosed with in my mid-fifties. Most unlucky people begin suffering from it in their 20s or 30s. I am reading 1 Thessalonians and Paul is warning the people not to “ordain anyone hastily,” when, all of a sudden, there is this random verse recommending “a little wine” for one’s stomach, and other “frequent ailments.” Well, you can’t say the Bible is all about boring platitudes and a bunch of other-worldly stuff. There is nothing more this worldly than stomach issues!

 

I think Paul stuck this into the earliest writing in the New Testament to show that all the changes in our lives, great and small, heroic and embarrassing, are all part of our spiritual lives.   The ancient Gnostics believed in the separation of the body from the soul. The body was corrupt, and only when the body is separated from the soul, can one’s soul truly commune with the Divine. Believe me, there have been moments in the past couple years when my soul wanted to be separated from my body, but much to my chagrin, the body, as well as the soul, is important to God.

 

It is a spiritual discipline to take care of the body God created for you. None of our bodies are perfect. My mother suffered from dwarfism, with exceptionally short arms and legs. She liked to say that she disagreed with the Bible’s idea of a Bodily Resurrection. She said that, “If God is in heaven, my spiritual body will look just like Cindy Crawford’s.” I bet even Cindy Crawford has something about her body that isn’t good or comfortable. At least, for my late mother’s sake, I hope so.

 

Today, think about how you are using and abusing your bodies. Are there ways you are caring for your body? Are you eating right or getting enough exercise? Are you getting enough sleep? God blessed your body in your own unique way. Even my body, with Ulcerative Colitis and fused spine and other birth defects in my hips and back is still blessed. It has carried me the first 55 years of my life, and I am going to need it for many more (hopefully). Mine isn’t a body anyone would wish for, but the minute I get frustrated or jealous, I hear my mother saying, “Scott, at least you can reach the top shelf of the pantry!” Respect, and take care of what God has given you.

The Habit of Thankfulness

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“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

 

The early church was struggling with the ongoing threat of persecution. Even when the church members were not being murdered, there were any number of reasons why they were victims of prejudice, ridicule, and inequality. So why was Paul expecting them to “rejoice always?” Was this Paul’s little self-help way of saying, “fake it till you make it?” Isn’t this simply emotional dishonesty?

 

Rather than “fake it till you make it,” I believe Paul is asking something even more demanding from us. The way we are able to “rejoice always,” with integrity, is through the spiritual discipline of “giving thanks.” One of the most profound moments in Christian worship is the act of the Sacrament of Holy Communion. There are only two sacraments in the Protestant tradition: baptism and communion. They are sacraments, because Jesus specifically commanded these two activities take place in the life of the Church. Within the act of Holy Communion, there is the liturgical act of “The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving.” Reflecting on what we are thankful for is central to the act of the Sacrament.

 

When we recognize the many ways God cares for and loves us, the better able we are to rejoice, even in difficult moments. When thankfulness becomes a habit, we are better able to endure struggles, and remain open and kind with others. When we can focus on at least some blessings, life’s difficulties become more manageable.

 

Today, don’t start with what frustrates you, but begin with your blessings. Sit and write down at least five things you are thankful for in your life. If you are able to write down ten, all the better. It is important to recognize what God has already given you. If God has already provided blessings in your life, then it is easier to believe God will continue to do so in the present and the future. Thank God in prayer, and the struggles in your life will not overwhelm. The all-or-nothing thinking that consumes our thoughts will subside, and hope will return. Trust God!

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