Your Body is a Gift from God: Caring for it as His Temple

The pain shot like darts down my neck and into my spine, causing me to be frozen. I could not turn my head to the left or the right. Muscles clenched about me from the base of my skull to the bottom of my left shoulder blade. It was happening again.

I looked up toward the ceiling in the dark room, my husband’s soft snoring in the background indicating that at least one of us was getting a good night’s sleep. Tears slipped down my cheeks and I took a quiet, short breath, knowing that a deep one would only increase the pain.

I prayed, begging myself to stop crying. I was all too aware that the smallest of movements, sniffling, moving my hands to wipe my face, or even shifting my feet, would cause immense pain. Fear told me I was all alone, that God didn’t care about me, and that my body was useless. Faith reminded me that my body is a gift from God, His temple, and that He would see me through this even if I didn’t know how.

Lord, take this pain from me. Please Lord.

The pain was relentless, but I prayed again. Nothing changed.

I reviewed the list of things I thought could be wrong with me along with the list of doctors I had been to in order to obtain a diagnosis and cure. My primary care doctor ordered blood work which pointed to low white blood cells. She sent me to oncologist who did more blood work which indicated possible autoimmune disease. The rheumatologist did more blood work and ruled this out. A neurologist treated me like a drug seeking patient, brushing off my concerns and referring me to a pain specialist. This last one didn’t offer me any hope or new recommendations yet sent me back to my primary care doctor with a prescription for muscle relaxers. I visited chiropractors, massage therapists, and participated in several sessions of acupuncture and yoga. For over ten years, the severe neck pain plagued me. Sometimes occurring monthly, other times quarterly.

I prayed again and finally dozed off.

The alarm clock startled me awake and I turned, without thinking. I felt like my muscle fibers were shredding as I hit the off button and collapsed back into bed.  My husband was in the shower and I had to get out of bed. But how? Holding my breath, I counted to 3 in my head and struggled to an upright position, fighting the pain. An uncontrollable scream came out of my mouth as tears rolled down my cheeks.

Lord, please help me get through this day.

I was 40 years old and felt decrepit. The pain episodes were controlling how I cared for my body, my involvement with hobbies and interactions with my children. Large sums of money were spent on electrode massagers, My Pillows, neck heating wraps and a new mattress. My free time was consumed with seeking ways to stay pain free. It was tempting to feel sorry for myself, hopeless and doomed. I kept reminding myself of all the miracles and wonderful works of God in my life, but it was starting to feel like lip service. God’s desire for us to care for our bodies as His temples became a scripture that I could not fathom.

As I worked that day I continued to pray. But with every turn of the head the pain daggers were provoked. I was worn out, desperate and felt alone. I was exhausted as much from the pain as I was from waking up in the middle of the night. I started to dread the sunset, fearing it would bring another painful night of disrupted sleep. It felt daring to hope that the pain would subside; the ibuprofen only put a small dent in it.

Scrolling through my email one day, I found an invitation to participate in a 5K race to benefit a foundation that was set up after my friend’s nephew died. He was in his early twenties when he had passed away, just a few months before. The foundation website listed his character traits and community involvement. I sat staring at my computer monitor in awe of all this young person had accomplished in his short life.

In the far recess of my brain I heard, run.

Seriously? I can’t run, I said to myself, not with this pain. I’m too old and unconditioned.

The date of the race was only three months away, two days after my 41st birthday. I read the foundation information again. The logical part of my brain reminded me that I was out of shape, uncoordinated and that I had dropped out of track for a reason when I was in high school; I hated running.


Before I knew realized what I was doing, I was typing my credit card information into the website, placing my tee -shirt order, and signing up. I was overcome with emotion and fear, my mind racing over the options of training and how to fit it into my busy schedule. Anxiety tempted my brain and self-doubt reminded me that I was still in pain. I thought of people I knew that were my age or older, much more active than I was, and cared for their bodies better. Then I remembered that Paul used a race analogy in I Corinthians 9:24-27 while discussing self-discipline. It struck me that God was calling me to take better care of my body and I needed to have more faith in Him, and more self-discipline.

By the end of work that day, the pain had subsided enough for me to take a deep breath. I drove home with a renewed determination, having no idea of what I was doing signing up for a race. Finding an outfit appropriate for running was not an easy task, luckily I did own sneakers. After checking on the children, I headed to the local high school track.

“What you up to?” my husband asked when he called as I was driving to the track.

“Going for a run.”

“What? Can you run?”

“I’m… going to…. I actually signed up for a 5K race, so I have to start training.”

“Oh-ok. Be careful”

I could hear the concern in his voice. “Yes, I’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”

I parked my car in the school parking lot and walked over to the stadium. School was dismissed and there was only an elderly gentleman walking the track. I felt relief that no one would see me in my severely unconditioned state. I ran and little by little, the pain I had been feeling eased up as the endorphins flooded my body.

Over the next three months I ran 2-4 times per week. Beginning with a half mile run walk, I slowly increased the distance. The high school track and paved walking trails by my house became my frequent stops in my free time.  I started caring for my body better and found healthy food and regular exercise were the medicine that I needed.

Not only did my prayers of desperation turn into prayers of praise, with the realization that God gave me a body to run (physically and figuratively), but I also found myself leaning into Him with more fervor. The tightrope of Godly living versus living in the world was beginning to unravel, and I realized that I needed self-discipline in my physical life but also my spiritual life. During a bible class at church I experienced a “lightbulb moment” while studying Hebrews 5:12 which states, “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” There was a palpable tug on my heart as this verse sunk in; God was talking.

Being saved by faith in Christ was only one piece of the proverbial puzzle for me, albeit a huge piece! God was calling me to take better care of my body and soul; His invitation could not have been clearer. I also found out that God is a morning person and the 2 a.m. awakenings that I sporadically encountered took on a new meaning. A sense of peace and joy settled on me as I allowed myself to spend more time with God, while reading the Bible, praying, or talking with Him as I trained for the run.

The day of the race, my heart beat with excitement and nervousness. I did not get to run a full 5K in my training months and was worried that I wouldn’t make it. The parking area was full, and I was directed to another location that was almost full by the time I pulled in and shut off the engine. I said a quick prayer and got out of the car.

My heart pounded harder in my chest as I walked the quarter mile to the starting line on the boardwalk of the beach. Making my way to the race location, I overwhelmed at the size of the crowd and intimidated by the participants that were sporting expert gear. I took my place, made small talk with the other runners and tried to keep warm. I noticed that all of the other runners had brought headphones. I kicked myself for forgetting mine. I had not run much without listening to music and was unsure of how I would keep up without the distraction.

There was a cool breeze off the ocean and the sky was cloudy. Kids played in the distance on the beach, taunting sea gulls or chasing the waves. Participants for the second wave of runners were off to the side with babies in strollers, waiting for their walk to begin.

The event started, speeches were given honoring the life lost, the Star-Spangled Banner played via a CD player and then there was a prayer. Tears slipped down my cheeks quietly. I quickly wiped them away, hoping no one saw them.

Dear Lord, give me strength.

“Runners on your mark, get set,” BANG!

The boardwalk was initially flat and then took a slight decline before an incline. Some of it was plagued by wear and tear, lifts and heaves. Other parts were even and appeared new. People passed me on both sides as I settled into my stride. There was talking and even laughter from some of the other participants. It seemed all I could do to steady my breath; I was amazed that people talked while they ran! I prayed for strength and endurance. My mind was racing with worries and fears, and I was reminded that there wasn’t only one competition occuring.

This is how I fight my battles. This is how I fight my battles. It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by You. It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by You.

The latest Michael W. Smith song ( came into my head as clear as listening to it on the radio. There was a renewed fire in my stride as I pushed forward. I no longer felt weary. Determination and faith launch me further down the boardwalk as the song played over and over again in my mind. When boardwalk ended, the runner path took to the side of a road. Incline, decline, curve, and turn around.

“This is how I fight my battles. This is how I fight my battles. It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by You. It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by You.”

I passed a few people who had passed me earlier but were now walking. The sun was coming out and I was getting hot. My leg muscles were pleading for me to stop and I had a nasty stitch in my side, but I continued to run. My brain argued with my body as I propelled further towards the finish line. The fight was real.

“This is how I fight my battles. This is how I fight my battles. It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by You. It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by You.”

The last 50 paces of the race were a steep incline. I increased my speed, put a smile on my face and geared up for the fight. My friend was screaming my name on the sidelines as I approached the finish line, giving me an unexpected boost. I willed my body to slow before stopping as she ran up to me and gave me a big hug and congratulated me.

I have continued my exercise routine since that first 5K, adding strength training to my routine. I have also been pain-free! I get little twinges every once in a while, but the immobilizing pain that I had struggled with for over a decade is gone! Caring for my body, and mind, as a gift from God has been a priority; improving my quality of life drastically. Self-discipline is still a struggle at times, but God’s mercies continue. As the scriptures says, we are saved by faith not by works, but the good works that follow our faith bring a joy and peace that surpasses knowledge.

“This is how I fight my battles. This is how I fight my battles. It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by You. It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by You.” 

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About the Author:

Angela N
Christian blogger, author, wife and mother of two adult sons. Creator of City Time blog, sharing Christ, Inspiration and Truth with you, and Angela Nichole's City-the official merchandise shop.


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