By John R. Murphy, Founder of Rock House Center
Given the current rate of rampant obesity in this country and the dire predictions of more, unhealthy weight gain has become the center of the national health discussion. Simplistically viewed as a matter of the will, healthcare professionals are stumped as to why weight loss programs do not actually foster sustained weight loss. The answer is that the lie of “comfort food” has millions of people turning to food instead of God for peace. The result is essentially an eating tsunami in this country. The similar self-destructive lie of “soul” food also points to where we went wrong. The truth is that food is for the body; God feeds the soul.
From the vantage point of my personal weight peak of 300lbs. and having maintained a 60-70 pound weight loss for 25+ years, I understand the struggle. I can summarize what works in one line. When I stopped going to food and began to go to God for my comfort – my peace – my sense of wellbeing, then the weight progressively stayed off. The internal struggle against the desire to overeat lessened overtime. I became more aware when I eat beyond the need of my body and more able to stop eating to satisfy the needs of my soul.
At every meal we begin by satisfying the legitimate needs of our body for food, but to the extent that we eat beyond the need of our body we accumulate excess energy reserves in the form of fat. Reserves are fine, but the excess leads to deterioration and even devastation of our health, as increasing fat stores strain the body’s capacity to sustain life.
My breakthrough came on two levels. The first was when I responded to the encouragement of a counselor to forgive the abusers of my past. I had been unwilling to release these people, despite God’s very clear desire to pass on the forgiveness He freely made available to me. I had suffered under bitterness, anger, depression and other negative emotions that I regularly attempted to “manage” through my “faith” in food to escape these emotions.
Then I had to deal with the reality of my obsession with food. Constantly thinking about my next meal meant that food was “driving the boat”. Instead of being obedient to God to forgive, which would have relieved me of negative emotions, I had taken the problem to food so many times it had officially become an idol in my life. Years after the breakthrough with forgiveness, I came under the conviction to repent of the idol of food. Each act of obedience brought a gradual lessening of my desire for food.
Having had the weight off for many years now, it has become progressively natural to maintain the loss. Now I am less likely to roar past the needs of my body at a meal because I am less dependent on food to comfort me or provide me with a sense of wellbeing. Through God’s strength, I have been able to progressively disregard the things of the world to meet the needs of my heart. We are warned in scripture not to allow anything to usurp the place in our hearts that belongs to Him. Said another way, God’s creation sustains the body, while God alone perfectly satisfies the heart of man.
If you feel convicted to honor God’s will in a deeper way right now, praying this prayer can help you get started:
“Heavenly Father, I open my heart for you to show me any place that does not honor you. Lord, I repent of resisting your will and ask that you give me the strength to live out this repentance. Father I also confess that food has become an idol in my life. I proclaim that it never satisfied my desire for peace and that only you can bring peace to my heart. I reject food as a source of comfort and peace and ask you to remove it from the place in my heart intended for you and you alone. Father, please give me the strength to resist the temptation to ever allow food to become an object of my affection and rule over my life. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen”