Our Bodies – Fearful Complexity in Service of Wonderful Simplicity

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
 Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.      Psalm 139:14 ESV

Are you confused about how to be healthy and well? Intimidated by study after study showing the positive or negative effect of this or that particular food or vitamin? Overwhelmed by the sheer complexity? I think many people are.

Our bodies are very complicated. Human physiology is intricate, and everything is seemingly connected to everything else. There’s a lot to learn and many of the concepts themselves are difficult. I remember having an extremely hard time in medical school grasping just how the kidney tubules regulate the concentration of urine. Eventually I got it, but it sure wasn’t easy. And that’s just one small part of the big picture.

Even worse, there is a lot more to know now than there was back then. Medical research continues to identify new neurologic and biochemical processes and connections that are important to our biology. New health discoveries or facts are regularly reported in the mainstream media. It’s tough for anybody to keep up, much less to make sense of it all. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you don’t have to understand everything in order to be healthy.

I’m not a technology expert, but I have an iPhone and iPad that I use frequently. Both are very complex devices in themselves, rely on numerous complex applications, and somehow keep themselves in sync through an extensive network of wireless transmitters and receivers. Although they have awesome functionality, the really great thing about them is how easy they are to use. Using them is almost completely intuitive; little to no instruction is required.

How did Apple do that? Great design. Steve Jobs demanded great design. He insisted that things must be easy to use, and so he put the iPhone’s internal complexity in service to simplicity for the end user. It worked! Beyond the functionality, customers find elegance, simplicity and beauty in the design of Apple’s products and they’re selling like hotcakes.

God did that for us. Yes our bodies are complicated, but caring for them is really pretty simple. Eat natural foods, more plants than meat, no junk food; exercise a bit; rest; know God; pray; enjoy relationships with your family and friends; don’t smoke or otherwise abuse your body, and you will likely be very healthy.

Your body also has wonderful self-healing mechanisms. Mostly it recovers from illness or injury on it’s own. Cuts heal. Infections resolve. Broken bones mend. Sometimes medicine or surgery may be needed to help, but in the end it’s always the body that does the final mending through its own complicated and completely natural internal mechanisms.

Really, it is simple to “operate and maintain” our bodies. Should we expect less? After all God is the ultimate designer. He created the universe and all that’s in it and it was very good. Our bodies are designed to be “low maintenance” and “easy to use.” The complexity of our internal physiology is used by God to give us bodies that “just work.”

Our problem is not that health is too complicated. Our problem is sin. Sin has corrupted all of creation and, because of that, we do fall ill through no fault of our own. However, sin has also corrupted us, and we do make a lot of bad choices bringing sickness upon ourselves. How many of us can maintain that simple formula for healthy living? Not too many. But we’re working on it.  That’s what Health Discipleship is all about.

So if you’re not as healthy as you like, take heart. Know that health is simple and that you are fearfully and wonderfully made.