“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.” 1 Peter 2:11 (NIV)
For years, I refused to think of my struggle with healthy eating as anything more than just a physical issue.
I didn’t pray about it. I didn’t apply biblical insights to it. And I certainly didn’t ask God for help. I just wallowed in my lack of self-control. I thought this issue was too small for God but too big for me.
When I began connecting my physical struggle with spiritual insight, at first I still wasn’t convinced that God really cared about my body. Was I vain to want to be thinner? Was I wasting my time on things of this world when I went to the gym? Was I just a foolish, Jesus-chasing girl who mistakenly believed my desire to please Him in this food battle would somehow help me grow closer to Him?
As I studied the Scriptures, I knew I had my answer from God: “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11).
My poor food choices were wreaking havoc on my body. But that wasn’t all. My desperate struggle, hopelessness and uncontrollable food cravings were waging war against my soul. These were some of the whispers hissed in my ear: You’ll never be free from this battle. You will always bounce from feeling deprived when you’re dieting to feeling guilty when you’re splurging. Victory isn’t possible!
When Satan holds up food in front of us and says these things, we must see that an unhealthy relationship with food can be the lure he uses to draw us away from God. Satan may also use alcohol, inappropriate friendships, overspending or any other means to lead us into a place where we feel self-control isn’t possible. He’s not picky about the method, just the result.
One day, while reading Psalm 23, I listed all the things the Lord does for me:
He leads me.
He restores me.
He guides me.
He is with me.
He comforts me.
He fills me.
He satisfies me.
As I read back over my list, a series of questions shocked me:
Do I rely on the Lord in these ways, or do I rely on food in these ways?
Do I honestly turn to God or turn to food?
Do I seek to be comforted, filled and satisfied with God in the depths of my soul, or do I seek food?
My answers made me cry.
Being ruled by anything other than God is something He takes quite seriously. And so should we. For years, I was overweight physically but underweight spiritually. Tying those two things together has finally allowed me to see why so many other attempts to conquer this mental and physical struggle with unhealthy eating patterns failed. I needed to dig past the surface to the real heart and soul of my issues.
In the process of that soul digging, I realized how amazing it is to serve a compassionate God — a God who knew food would be a major stumbling block keeping many of His children from wholeheartedly pursuing Him. So He’s given us great gifts in the Holy Spirit, Jesus and the Bible to help us.
Here’s how His solid wisdom and gentle guidance have redirected me with a list of action items I wrote for myself:
- Start and finish your day with Bible reading.
- Pray before you eat — even snacks.
- Listen to that spiritual “gut check” when you’re about to eat something.
- Choose the healthy option.
- Stop before you’re overly full.
- Stay on a slower eating pace while enjoying conversation with others.
Yes, I wanted to get healthy. Yes, I wanted to lose weight. Maybe you do, too, or maybe you find yourself in a similar food struggle, but for you, getting healthy means gaining weight. Either way, we have to realize this journey is about so much more. In the end, pursuing health helps my heart feel more settled and ready to receive what Jesus wants for me each day.
Dear Lord, it is true. My food struggles at times wage a war against my soul. Because of this one overwhelming struggle, I often feel defeated in other areas of my life as well. As I seek You today, please give me the strength I need. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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For the girl who wants to be free to make healthy choices without getting caught in the cycle of obsessive thinking. Who struggles with what she sees when she looks in the mirror. Who wants to get healthy but feels paralyzed with taking the first few steps. Who has tried to do it on her own but feels like she can't make progress … Our next Online Bible Study is for you! I’ll Start Again Monday by Lysa TerKeurst starts April 1. Just 30 days to find lasting spiritual satisfaction. Sign me up!
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Many of us face food struggles, whether we need fresh motivation to make healthy changes or we need professional help to move toward healing — and God loves and wants the best for you no matter what your struggles are. To find out more about counseling resources and how to connect with a licensed, professional counselor near you, you can visit our “Counseling Resources” page here.
FOR DEEPER STUDY
James 4:7, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (NIV)
When we submit ourselves to God, we find ourselves with a greater ability to resist the biggest temptations in our lives. This week, when you find yourself being controlled or consumed by anything other than God, what would it look like if you surrendered it to Him immediately? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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