• Dr. Ray E. Heiple, Jr.

The God of All Nutrition and Health

When I break your staff of bread, ten women will bake your bread in one oven, and they will bring back your bread in rationed amounts, so that you will eat and not be satisfied. Leviticus 26:26NAS


This morning we again look at Westminster Larger Catechism Question 193, which asks, “What do we pray for in the fourth petition?” It gives the answer, “In the fourth petition (which is, Give us this day our daily bread,) acknowledging, that in Adam, and by our own sin, we have forfeited our right to all the outward blessings of this life, and deserve to be wholly deprived of them by God, and to have them cursed to us in the use of them; and that neither they of themselves are able to sustain us, nor we to merit, or by our own industry to procure them; but prone to desire, get, and use them unlawfully: we pray for ourselves and others, that both they and we, waiting upon the providence of God from day to day in the use of lawful means, may, of his free gift, and as to his fatherly wisdom shall seem best, enjoy a competent portion of them; and have the same continued and blessed unto us in our holy and comfortable use of them, and contentment in them; and be kept from all things that are contrary to our temporal support and comfort.”


About a year ago I had a recurrence of acid reflux and heartburn that was so bad I thought this time for sure something was wrong with my heart! The reason why it got so bad again was that for about the last five years I had become accustomed to a certain amount of heartburn pain and how to deal with it. So when it would get bad I would tweak my diet a little, pop some antacids, and it would go away. However, this time the symptoms were a little different and so after reading some articles on the internet I concluded that I had some kind of circulation problem that called for a healthier diet and lifestyle. So in addition to exercising regularly I began drinking low sodium V8s every day, eating salads with apple cider vinegar, and drinking a ton of water. However, in all of these actions I was actually increasing my acid reflux problem to the point where I let Robin take me to the hospital! The V8s gave me citric acid which is one of my triggers, and the salads gave me vinegar which is another one. Finally, the excessive water made my stomach so full that the acid was more prone to coming up into my esophagus.


Why is it that my body can no longer handle citric acid? Why can I no longer eat raw onions, vinegar, or garlic? I have asked the doctors these questions and it is as if I’m asking how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. They look at me like, “Why are you asking such questions? Take these pills and you’ll feel better.” I’m happy for the pills, but I would rather know what has changed in my body so that I cannot eat oranges anymore and I love oranges! It cannot simply be that I am getting older. There are many people a lot older than me that can eat all of these things without any pain. So what changed in my body and why did it change? And is there a way to change it back? I don’t believe I’m going to get answers to these questions anytime soon. But this whole episode serves to illustrate a point that is much more significant: Why does food bring health to our bodies? And how does it do it? How is it that protein is used by our bodies to build muscle, and calcium to strengthen bones, and carbohydrates and fats to give energy, and why do all of the different vitamins and minerals function in our cells the way they do? What gives these things the power to do what they do in our bodies? How can our cells use them and know how to use them?


Our question today points out the ultimate answer when it says that all of our sources of nutrition are not able “of themselves… to sustain us.” Though it is good for us to learn about our bodies and how to take care of them, we must remember that all of the power of food and exercise to bring us health and fitness ultimately comes from the power and will of God. God could make it so that even if we had a perfect diet, it would do no good to our bodies whatsoever. In fact some scholars believe that the passage at the head of this article about God breaking the staff of bread refers not only to a scarcity of bread but to God removing the power of bread to give nutrition to our bodies. It is sobering to realize that only by the goodness of God is food able to give health and strength to our bodies. It should result in our asking ever more humbly and sincerely for God to give us this day our daily bread, for we should realize that all of the blessing that we receive from all of our food is ultimately by the power and will of our God. God is so good that He brings forth bread from the earth and wills that it nourish us and all of His creatures. Earnestly thank God today for your bread and how He gives you health and strength through it.

A member of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)

Reformed doctrine. Reverent worship. Real life.

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