It seems like my whole life I have been struggling with my weight. When I was called into the Church, I was 21 years old. I was overweight, close to 190 pounds. I was tall, so I carried the weight fairly well. I would listen to the sermons on gluttony (Proverbs 23:1) and how we should always take care of ourselves and be a good light (Matthew 5:14). Christ lives in us and our bodies are a holy temple (1 Corinthians 6:19). So, needless to say, I really tried to change. I just wanted to change so Christ would live in me. Before I was called, I didn't care about my weight. But after my calling, I wanted so desperately to please God (and still do.)
I remember walking every night and pleading with God in tears and just begging, "Please let me lose this weight." I would struggle on and off of diets like a yo-yo, going up and down, never understanding why I couldn't stay with it. After all, I had the power of God! I was baptized, and I had the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). So why was this so hard for me? Was this my thorn that Satan kept me down with constantly? I read the writings of Paul trying to understand his "thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan to buffet me" (2 Corinthians 12:7). God chose not to heal Paul from this weakness and his trial.
I couldn't help but wonder why? I just couldn't quite understand it. It seemed to me that everybody else could lose weight if they wanted to. They put on a few pounds and then could take it off. Why couldn't I? I would take a step forward and three steps back.
Years have gone by (I am now 50), and I'm now up to 380 pounds, severely obese, and my knees are giving in. I am stunned and wondering what happened? With my friends I am not shy; I talk to them and try to give words of encouragement. But I never share with my friends the pain that I constantly feel inside, not being able to do things like they do, things like going to the picnics or just little things like standing around and talking after church. It's hard for me to stand for just a few minutes, so I sit there—hoping that my friends understand and come and chat for a while with me. I pray that my brothers and sisters in Christ don't think that I am unsociable, because I am not.
People who are extremely obese have a very hard time moving. Some have to use walkers, or they are in wheelchairs or are even bedridden. It hurts physically to move. It is extremely painful. I don't think that people realize the pain that you are in. Some people look at you and think, "Why don't you just lose weight?" And I pray daily that when people see the obesity of others that they do not judge and that maybe they can realize that just because something is easy for them, it might not be easy for others. I felt like a failure, like I was less of a Christian because of not succeeding. Where did I let it go? All of a sudden, years went by, years of constant struggle, and here I am. Now I ask, "Does God still work with me?"
After all these years of praying, crying and pleading like a little child who wants something really bad, I had a revelation a few months ago. Again, I asked God to help me lose this weight, so I could better serve Him. The only answer that kept popping up in my mind day in and day out was, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). How many times had I read that scripture through the years? Finally it stood out for me.
It took a while to really know if that was the answer for me and to understand that answer. But I feel I do finally understand what He meant. "My grace is sufficient for you." The message conveyed to me by this scripture includes the inference to look at what you do have. You see, I am extremely obese, but I have been very blessed. It is a truly wonderful exercise to concentrate on what you have rather than what you don't. I go to church, and go to work, and walk a little, talk a little, cry and laugh. I can still move. God shows His mercy and strength in me just as He does through all His children.
We each have our own thorn that is in our side and, believe it or not, maybe that is God's mercy—what gives us hope. Our hope and strength is in our Creator, not in our bodies. And although my health is failing a little as I go, I know He is always there with His strength and His love and, most of all, His mercy (Psalm 103:11). I am not saying that my body won't let me down from the abuse that I have given it over the years. God has taught me that you reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7), but He has also taught me that He is our Creator and He will never leave us nor forsake us.
I pray for those who are in wheelchairs, using walkers or bedridden. I continually ask God that He will let them see the hope and mercy that He has shown me, which is nothing can keep us from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39). He says nothing...not even ourselves. Not our weight, and not anything else. So if your hope is lost, just take another look and you will see that it is not.
So what can God do with me now? I know I am precious in God's eyes in spite of my personal struggle. I also know that I, too, can contribute. Although I can't easily move, I certainly have a mouth, and it works, and I pray daily that the words that God puts in my mouth will help someone else. I care deeply for people and, thankfully, I have a voice that I know God hears.
I am not giving up trying to lose weight or even to persuade My Father for extreme miraculous help like just melting it all away overnight. I believe there are always three answers to a prayer for physical healing: 1) yes, now, 2) yes, later and 3) yes, but in the Kingdom. So I continually ask God for help, and I do pray my understanding and faith increase. I will never give up even if it takes the rest of my physical life to overcome. Our trials may be long struggles. But even if it is taking years, He is with us through those years. He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). He will always be with us even to the end (Matthew 28:20).