Pursuing Health in an Anxious Age – Book Review
“In this day and age, we may not fear the next comet (or do we?), but we do worry about something less rare: the report of an abnormal medical test.”
– Bob Cutillo
She was in her car, waiting in the line for the handicapped. For those unable to stand in the long line wrapping around Manna House Monday night, the back dock was serving as a drive-through area to pick up the free Thanksgiving food.
She rolled her window down and we chatted. I asked if she needed prayers for anything because don’t we all?
Her answer woke me up.
Yes, she said. Health care. I’m scared. I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to get health care under the new President.
I listened to her. Because fear of pain and sickness is real. For all of us.
If there’s anything that can ruin our plans, it’s a breakdown of our body.
Pursuing Health in an Anxious Age
Although it wouldn’t have been helpful Monday night to tell my new friend about a book I’d just finished reading, I can tell you about it.
It’s Pursuing Health in an Anxious Age by Bob Cutillo, MD. It isn’t a long book (~200 pages), but it is a deep book.
It offers important discussions on something we all care about: our bodies.
In the book, Cutillo addresses our need to feel in control of our bodies. We like to think: If I live right, take the right medicines, and trust in God enough, I’ll be fine.
But we all get sick anyway.
It shouldn’t surprise us. Cutillo reminds us we were created as dependent beings from the very beginning.
We have limits.
“Our limitations are not out at the edge of our existence but at the center of our being. If our limits were at the boundaries, we could always push them farther and farther out, applying our reason and developing our technologies and solving the problems that limit us at the edges of our lives.
But that is not who we are and how we have been made; our limits lie at the middle of our creaturely existence and, if truth be told, we don’t like that.”
We don’t like the hurts we already have, and we’re often fearful about the unknown pain yet to come. If we’re old enough, we know how vulnerable our bodies are.
Body as Blessing
But we’re not left without hope.
“Because God came in a human body, a new perception of the body is offered.”
Our body is a gift and “intimately connected to our destiny.” Each of our bodies—even with their limits—has a direction and intentionality to carry out.
Our bodies may be vulnerable, but they are purposeful. We are more than our diseases.
“If the form of our body is not incidental but essential, the sooner we embrace our body, the sooner we embrace our destiny.”
And the ultimate physical death we each have to face? As believers in Jesus, we know death has been defanged.
“When we don’t ‘cling anxiously to life,’ we are freed to embrace it more fully.”
Health in Community
Cutillo’s concluding chapters are about living as community. We share this vulnerability of broken bodies with every other living being on the planet. He elaborates in the book on these three points:
- Seeing you depends on seeing me in you.
- My health depends on your health.
- The health of society depends on how it cares for its poorest members.
We may not enjoy bearing each other’s pains, but it is a godly mandate for everyone’s good.
“To permit the pain of another to come near because we know that we are likewise vulnerable is also a burden—but better to be burdened than buffered and blind.”
In the end, the best hope I could offer the scared woman in her car Monday night about future health care was that, regardless of what happens next, we would stand together, with God in our midst. She wouldn’t be alone. Together is always stronger.
This woman may or may not ever read Pursuing Health in an Anxious Age, but if you can and I can, perhaps we’ll stay motivated enough to keep the proper perspective, not only about our bodies, but about each other’s as well.
* * *
How do you handle physical pain? Have you already faced your fear of death? What happened? Please share in the comments.
My thanks to Crossway
for the review copy of this book
- No Pride in Giving, No Shame in Taking
- Ten Books I Recommend – November 2016
Lisa, I so need to read this book and gobble the words you have shared right here. I do have insurance and have a good doctor, and I also worry more than I should about the aging process of my joints and the Fibromyalgia and the … and the … too much!! I have been blessed because I needed to read just what is here and to trust in my Maker.
May your Thanksgiving be filled with grace of our Lord and the joy of family.
I share many of those worries with you, Linda, unfortunately. 🙁 I know God is ultimately the only one who can truly take care of us, but in the meantime, I’d love to give him some advice. ha. Thankfully he doesn’t need my help! Hoping you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday! It was a beautiful warm day here in Alabama. One day it’s going to turn seasonally cool again, but until then, I’m enjoying the heat!
Thank you for this reminder that we are more than our diseases, Lisa. I feel so bad for that woman. It is scary. It’s hard sometimes, but we try to cling to the God who is in control of everything. I try to remind myself to take in the beauty of today instead of worrying about tomorrow. God’s got us! I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving! Hugs!
This has been a critical theme for me for several years now: “I try to remind myself to take in the beauty of today instead of worrying about tomorrow.” You stated it so well, Trudy. I’m still not too good at it. 🙁 But I’m trying and the Lord continues to be patient as I walk through it.
I’m always challenged when I visit you, my friend. (that’s a good thing! – in case you’re wondering, lol) Contrary to this woman’s fears, I’m looking forward to being able to “afford” healthcare under the new administration. My current plan (which I already can’t afford) is going up 67% in January.
Regardless, I wholeheartedly agree with #3! We just need to be doing a better job of it, on many levels, including me at the personal level. I’ve been truly blessed and have never struggled with serious health issues until this past year. The new perspective has been enlightening.
God uses each and every situation to mold us and make us more like Him, I believe this. Despite the eventual deterioration of my earthly body, I have a sure hope of my heavenly one. Thanksgiving blessings to you and your family, dear friend!
That’s a huge hike in premiums—ouch! I have a friend who will be faced with your dilemma in January as well, so now’s the time for doctor visits for her. Your bottom line is one we all need to stay focused on: “God uses each and every situation to mold us and make us more like Him, I believe this. Despite the eventual deterioration of my earthly body, I have a sure hope of my heavenly one.” So grateful for that! Hope you had a beautiful Thanksgiving yesterday.
Oh you’re not going to believe this, but Bob Cutillo is married to my childhood best friend!
What a small world. I’m off to share your post with her …
Thanksgiving joys …
Really??? Wow! I love when God connects the dots in ways like that. You can tell your friend that I found her husband’s book very fascinating and very helpful! I’ll continue to share about it with others. Blessings to you, Linda.
I have a lot of health anxiety, so this sounds like a great book. Happy Thanksgiving!
It was a helpful book to me. It seems like I always have something (or MANY things) going wrong in my body at any point in time, so I’m always looking for helpful resources to keep my perspective straight.
Sounds like one i would enjoy reading! I have added it to my book list.
If you do read it, Beverley, I’d like to get your perspective on it as one who suffers with such chronic pain. I consider myself having various chronic pains, too, but they have never been as debilitating as I know you and others suffer with.
I am intrigued – it probably won’t be until the new year, but i shall let you know.
This is such a good slice of wisdom from a book I should read. I always profit from your reading and sharing.
Ditto, Michele. We definitely both go through some books, yes? 🙂 Thankful for you and all that you share!
Hi Lisa! I can relate to your post on a few levels. My husband and I are also on Obamacare for our health care, and it is very sobering to think about the cost without it.
I am also currently uncomfortable with back issues, and it’s limiting my ability to get things done. I want to relax and just let things settle down, but I do tend to worry. Your post helps me to see that my body is my gift from God, and he’s got it. Even something as small as this.
Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. God bless your volunteer work,
You say it well, Ceil: “My body is my gift from God, and he’s got it.” That’s a truth I have to remind myself of; I tend to be a worrier.
We did have a great Thanksgiving and hope you did too!
It surprises me how expensive health insurance has become. A newly married couple can hardly afford it and the deductibles! It frustrates me when I see young couples both working – a young mom needing to work for insurance instead of staying at home if she’d like. I’ve seen God work in amazing ways and provision, as we went out on our own in our business – and, yes, I got a job so our family could have insurance, in a job that didn’t use any of my skill or education, but when you have family and dreams, you do what you have to do. God brought me out of that job. I’ve learned not to live in fear, but in trust that God’s got this – though sometimes I have to keep reminding myself.
Yes, it is sad to see those kinds of situations. 🙁 Unfortunately health benefits are often a deciding factor in taking a job or not. Learning not to live in fear is a huge lesson! I’m still trying to get that one down pat; I’m not there yet. Thanks for sharing from your experience, Maryleigh. Always helpful.