Work in progress. Return here for updates January 3.
February is celebrated as ‘Heart Month’ globally. According to the Department of Statistics, more than 24 percent of all deaths in The Bahamas are directly related to heart disease. To keep the heart strong and healthy it is important to take care of it physically and spiritually.
On a daily basis, we are reminded to guard our hearts by eating healthily; engaging in regular physical exercise; managing stress levels; getting enough rest; scheduling our annual checkups on our birthday; having blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels checked; cutting down on salt; drinking more water; and maintaining a healthy weight.
Spiritual heart care is more important than physical. In Proverbs 4:23 we are told to “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
‘Guarding your heart’ means to find forgiveness in your heart for those who have wronged you. Let go of bitterness and resentment. An article in an issue of Harvard Women’s Health Watch stated, “Not only is being able to forgive divine, it can be a blessing to your mental and physical health”. An unforgiving attitude produces the same body reactions as a major stressful event. It leads to tense muscles, higher blood pressure, and increased perspiration. Forgiveness, on the other hand, reduces stress and improves the heart rate and blood pressure.” ‘Guarding the heart’ also means being mindful of what you think about and what you allow to enter your mind through the avenue of the eyes and ears. Whatever we see and listen to are stored in the mind. Our heart and mind are closely connected.
What we think about affects our heart. The Bible tells us to think about things that are pure and clean. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8). A healthy environment is created for the entire body when we follow this counsel. When we think good thoughts, the hormones that are released in our bodies are good for heart health.
God loves us and wants us to have a loving and pure heart. He sent His only Son to die in our stead. He loves us and wants what is best for us. God desires to have a deep and grounded relationship with us. We can learn to receive His love by getting to know Him better through the study of His word and prayer. The closer we come to God, the better we get to know Him and the more we fall in love with Him. Just as we spend time with those we love to form stronger ties, God loves it when we spend quality time with Him. This can be attained in a meaningful way by making Him our priority in the early hours of the morning.
Let us endeavor to guard our hearts spiritually by, communicating with God through the study of His word and prayer, loving and forgiving others, and by being careful with what we put in your minds.
Nathelyn LaCroix, Health Ministries Director
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