By Pastor Dave Holland
My older brother Bob was always a big guy, and children often called him mean names like Fatty and Fatso. Later, due to his service in the Vietnam War, Bob had terrible nightmares. He tried to silence those dreams with toxic portions of alcohol and pot.
Eventually, Bob grew to weigh over 500 pounds. Desperately trying to change his life, Bob decided to have surgery to remove a large portion of his stomach. He died of complications at only 50 years of age.
In the big picture, my brother was an unhappy person. His size prevented him from engaging in normal life activities, including church attendance. Bob had a hard time loving himself for who he was, and this led to a cycle of depression with more eating and drinking. I mourn the loss of my brother and the unhappiness he felt most of his life. Bob needed the super-sized healing that only Jesus can give.
In Jen Larsen’s new book, Stranger Here: How Weight-Loss Surgery Transformed My Body and Messed with My Head, she explains how losing 180 pounds wasn’t all she thought it would be. Her fiercely honest writing moved me. While it is not a spiritual read, it is compelling for anyone who is struggling with weight issues or knows someone who is drowning in the murky waters of an eating disorder.
Many people suffer today from weight problems, a bad self-image, and self-loathing. People are suffering, and not just overweight people. I remember a movie star in the eighties named Farrah Fawcett, who many considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world. She said in an interview with Barbara Walters that when she looked into the mirror she only saw an ugly girl — then she cried. Multitudes suffer like Farrah Fawcett from the self-criticism that plague their thoughts.
Larsen says in her book, I thought that my body was wrong when I was obese; I thought my body was wrong when I was thin past the point of health. I thought there was something wrong with my body whatever I looked like because there’s always just one more thing to fix before I look perfect…I felt helpless before. I tried to dodge out of the feeling by getting weight loss surgery, and now I’m angry, that I wasn’t fixed, yes. But, also, that so many people deal with this, this exact and pervasive struggle at whatever size they are, whatever shape, whatever they do. There is no perfect weight or size.
I believe Jesus wants to touch people like my brother Bob, Farrah Fawcett, Jen Larsen and you at the core of your being. The Lord can give super-sized healing and self-acceptance like no other.
Luke 4:40 above describes how Jesus healed people, and Doctor Luke uses the specific Greek word therapeuo to define Christ’s healing gift. This word means, to wait upon menially. It gives the sense of a nurse applying a therapy that brings soothing comfort from the pain of illness. Jesus administers therapeutic healing, massage-like therapy to the body and soul.
Contemporary Christian music artists Mercy Me sing in their song Beautiful, You’re beautiful, you are made for so much more than all of this. You’re beautiful! You are treasured, you are sacred, you are His. You’re Beautiful! May the Lord use us to love people who are suffering from the deceptions of our culture and a skewed self-image. We have the power to speak God’s words of life and encouragement.
You are indescribably precious in God’s eyes, crafted in your mother’s womb by the hand of the Almighty. You are an amazing reflection of the Most High God, made in His image and destined to live forever in the light of His glory. You can pray: Lord Jesus, I pray today that You will open my eyes to see myself as You created me to be – well and whole. I pray that Your healing presence will fill my heart, body, and soul. May You use me today to impart Your healing power and words of encouragement to all those I meet. In Your Name, I pray, Amen.
“When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Christ.” Luke 4:40-41