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The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 1-2)
Within the last couple of weeks – as part of my weekly regiment – I was listening to a cycling podcast. Most of my podcasts are sermon-related. However, a major portion of my weekly exercise is on a bicycle. Therefore, I listen for training, health-related issues, and general encouragement. I also usually listen during “admin” time, so I am not giving my whole attention but loosely paying attention. One sentence in a recent podcast caught my attention. It ran along these lines.
“The body’s natural state is one of health.”
My next thought was, “Is this true?” This statement is an unchallenged statement, not only in the culture but also among many, if not the majority of genuine believers.
After some reflection that day, I want to propose that the answer to the question, “Is our body’s natural state one of health?” is, “no.”
These were some of my thoughts concerning this over several days.
3 John 2 – a prayer is a request formed out of need. The Apostle acknowledges the prosperity of Gaius’ soul. Gaius is walking in truth and manifesting cruciform love before the church. These are an indication of a soul flourishing in Christ. John makes request from the Lord that things would go well for Gaius in this world and for the state of his body to be in good health. For our purposes, if the default state of the body is health then what is the point of praying for his health? One might pray that Gaius would be guided to the right foods so that his default state of health might return. This is not the concern of John. John’s prayer and desire for Gaius is that he would be in good health. This implies that perhaps Gaius’ natural state is not one of good health.
Psalm 103:3 – this is in keeping with this psalm of thanksgiving. Bless the Lord … who is healing all your diseases. Salvation is of the Lord, and one of His physical deliverances is our body from disease.
Job 1:9-12; 2:5 – the thought that came to mind immediately after the question, “Is this true” was Job. Satan accused God of putting a protective fence of protection around Job, his household, and all that he possessed. There was no crack in the wall of protection (on every side). Satan destroyed all he possessed – his children, his business, his wealth. Satan then sought to destroy Job’s flesh. The only protective fence that remained was to take Job’s life. Please note how quickly Satan moves to murder Job. This is the Adversary.
The natural state of anything is under the curse of sin and death. Corruption pervades all things.
Apart from God’s mercies, mankind would be destroyed – soul, body, and possessions. Lost mankind shares under the wrath of God but presently it is mixed with mercy – their health, their wealth, their family, and their affairs. Believing mankind has protective fencing around them. Apart from these mercies of the Lord, our natural state is dying and death.
Saying that “our body’s natural state is health” misunderstands the curse due to Adam’s sin.
The understanding that our all is due to the Lord’s common and special grace preserves both a thanksgiving and growing gratitude in Christ. When calamity comes, believers know that it has been filtered by His mercy, for our good, and for His glory.