He was only 48 years old when he dropped dead of a massive heart attack last night, and his family is in complete shock. Devastated would be a better word. Why did he die so suddenly? And why at a time like this, just five days before he was scheduled to walk his oldest daughter down the aisle and give her away in marriage?
Now, rather than joy, there will be agony, and the wedding will have to be postponed because of all the funeral arrangements. "Daddy, why did this happen?" the eldest daughter sobs.
Although this particular scenario is imaginary, similar stories, equally tragic, occur every day, leaving behind a sea of tears, years of pain and mourning, children without a parent, and spouses without their beloved life partner. What makes these stories all the more tragic is that when it comes to heart disease, the vast majority of these tragedies could be avoided.
Even in cases where the heart disease is allegedly hereditary, what is often "hereditary" is bad eating habits, and even when there are real genetic propensities toward heart disease, healthy eating could prevent those diseases from ever developing, even with those who are predisposed to them.
Do you remember what Esau did in Genesis 25? The text states:
Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field and he was famished. So Esau said to Jacob, "Please feed me some of that red stew, for I am famished." Therefore his name was called Edom. Then Jacob said, "First sell me your birthright." Esau said, "Look, I am about to die; of what use is the birthright to me?" Then Jacob said, "Swear to me this day." So he swore to him, and he sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew. Then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. And Esau said to Jacob, "Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!" (Therefore his name was called Edom.) Jacob said, "Sell me your birthright now." Esau said, "I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?"
Jacob said, "Swear to me now." So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright (Gen. 25:29-34).
There is an abrupt feel to the Hebrew in verse 34 describing Esau's activities, as if in a moment of time, he gulped down his meal and sold away his birthright: "He ate and drank and got up and went and despised his birthright" (my translation of the Hebrew). That is what so many of us do, except we don't do it in one sitting. We do it over a period of years.
You might say (as I used to when defending my unhealthy eating), "I just read about a marathon runner, thin and fit, apparently the picture of health, and he dropped dead of a heart attack. And I just read about a jazz musician who turned 100 the other day, and he smokes cigars and eats burgers and fries. You just never know why these things happen."
But what we do know is this: the biblical principle of sowing and reaping is true, and if we sow to health, as a rule we will reap health. And if we sow to heart disease and other deadly ailments, as a rule, we will reap sickness, disease, and premature death. If you doubt me, try it out for six months. Get some blood tests done, check your blood pressure, and weigh yourself, then eat a totally healthy diet for the next six months and get checked out again. Not only will you see a great change on the scale, but you'll see a real difference in your blood levels and blood pressure, along with a real difference in how you feel.
Simply stated, bad eating produces bad results, especially over a period of time, while good eating produces good results, especially over a period of time.
And that's the way it always is with sin. As the old saying goes, sin will take you farther than you planned to go, it will keep you longer than you planned to stay, and it will cost you more than you planned to pay. It's the same with unhealthy eating: The risk is not worth the reward, and sometimes, just as with other choices we make, it is the long-term effect of wrong, small choices that can bring destruction.
This is an excerpt from Breaking the Stronghold of Food by Michael and Nancy Brown, © 2017 by Michael L. Brown, Ph.D. All rights reserved.
Michael Brown is the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire and is the president of FIRE School of Ministry. His newest book is Breaking the Stronghold of Food. Connect with him on Facebook at AskDrBrown or on Twitter @drmichaellbrown.
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