July 12, 2019

“Health Is More Than Tofu and Triathlons”

Sandra Blackmer, Adventist Review

Priorities may have more to do with health and longevity than many might think, said Ted Hamilton, AdventHealth’s chief integration officer and senior vice president for Mission and Ministry, during his plenary presentation at the Global Health Summit at Loma Linda University, July 9-13, 2019.

“Perhaps it’s not all about diet and exercise,or tofu and triathlons,” he said. “Maybe it’s about living well and whole as long as we live” and finding the proper balance.

He conceded, however, that finding balance isn’t easy to do.

Searching for Balance

In 1863, Adventist Church cofounder Ellen White received a 45-minute vision emphasizing the need for health reform that eventually “spawned a healthcare system of 300 to 400 worldwide health-care centers,” Hamilton said. Following that vision, Ellen White wrote in Selected Messages: “I saw that it was a sacred duty to attend to our health, and arouse others to their duty. I saw that we should not be silent upon the subject of health but should wake up minds to the subject” (vol. 3, p. 280).

White also wrote in The Ministry of Healing that “pure air, sunlight, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, proper diet, the use of water, trust in divine power — these are the true remedies” (p. 127). But even Ellen White and her husband, James, struggled with life balance, Hamilton noted. After James suffered a severe stroke in 1865, both his and Ellen’s ministries “were compromised as Ellen cared for him and helped him recover.” So healthful living comprises various components, he said.

Our Mission, to Offer Hope

We need to look to Jesus as our example, Hamilton advised, then cited John 13:35, where Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Jesus didn’t say that people know we’re His followers “because we’re a vegetarian or keep the Sabbath or pay tithe, but because we love one another,” Hamilton explained. Then he asked, “Are we a church that loves one another and can teach others to love one another?”

Noting that chaplains are frequently called to counsel individuals suffering from loneliness and despair, Hamilton suggested that our mission is to offer hope, “a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ — a transcendent, living hope.”

Nineteenth-century schoolteacher Annie Flint is an example of living in hope, Hamilton said. Developing crippling arthritis while in her 20s and reaching a point where she couldn’t walk, Flint chose to be hopeful. She became a poet who shared her hope and faith in God through her writing and inspired others, Hamilton said.

“We, too, must be hopeful,” he added. “We need to go out and share both hope and love with the world.”