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December 30th, 2010
08:00 AM ET

My Take: When the fat girl got mad at God

Editor's Note: Lysa TerKeurst is president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and author of Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire With God, Not Food. Lysa blogs daily at www.lysaterkeurst.com. 

By Lysa TerKeurst, Special to CNN

Three years ago I was stuck in a rut of wishful thinking and excuses with my weight loss. At the beginning of each day I would say I wanted things to be different. I would vow in my heart to make things different. I would even make a plan to stop the snacks, increase the veggies, and say no to the desserts.

But then life would happen. And the excuses were so very plentiful. So, my resolve would melt away like butter on a hot yeast roll.

Of course the next morning I would always get up and weigh myself hoping that somehow magic would have happened over night. Despite my indulgences from the day before, maybe just maybe the numbers would have gone down.

But the scale was not impressed with my wishful thinking. So you know who I’d get mad at?

God.

I’d beg God to help me one minute while scarfing down an order of fries the next. And then I’d be doubly mad He didn’t steer my car away from the drive-thru.

I deemed myself a victim of tragic genetics, overactive taste buds and a stomach that demanded large portions.  What I failed to realize for years is there was a much more significant issue going on with me.

More important than the ever increasing size of my jeans was the deception going on inside my heart. My weight was outside indication of an internal situation. There was a crucial spiritual situation that needed to be addressed.

I was relying on food to be my comfort, my ever present help, my guide, the thing that got me through the valleys and the first thing I wanted to celebrate with in the good times. Honestly, I might as well have taken Psalm 23 and replaced the Lord’s name with various food choices.

My proper little Christian self would have never expressed that out loud. But my body wouldn’t keep secrets. I had an issue. And the ever increasing size of my body demanded the REAL issue be addressed.

I don’t write to point out anyone else’s issue. There are certainly medical situations that can cause weight gain. But my issue was truly a spiritual one. And no diet would have ever been permanently successful until I got to the real root of my problem.

The root of my issue was craving food more than God. I desired and depended on the instant high of physical gratification because I hadn’t learned how to let God satisfy my deepest needs.

God wasn’t causing my weight issues as some sort of cruel consequence for my poor choices.
God was actually the very thing I needed to help overcome my issues.

Dr. Floyd Chilton who teaches at Wake Forest University of medicine wrote an article that said, "Your willpower is in constant battle with your genes and your calorie-excessive environment. Often your best efforts are no match for your genes and environment which is why so many diets fail so miserably... Will power alone is not enough to bring about this change; start by realizing that can not do this alone. If you are a person of faith, use that connection to help you change."

So, I set out to understand what the Bible says about how to consume food without food consuming me. I started in Genesis and read through the Bible with an appetite for truth rather than chocolate, chips and cheeseburgers. This was a spiritual journey that yielded great physical benefits. I lost 25 pounds in 4 months but more importantly, I have kept it off for nearly two years. That’s a first for me!

Now, I sense my weight issue was actually a gift in disguise. I never thought I’d say that. And yes, three years ago I would have rolled my eyes at someone saying that too.

But I don’t say it as a Pollyanna lollipop girl with too much air between her ears and no cellulite on her hiney.
I know this is a tough issue. I’ve walked through the tears and the feelings of failure. Remember, I was the fat girl mad at God about this whole deal. So, hear me out.

Learning to turn to God to fill my soul instead of food to overstuff my emptiness, has changed more than just my jeans size. It has changed my outlook on life. I did lose the extra weight I needed to shed and kept it off. But the real reward was what I gained with Jesus in the process. He became the best part of my journey. And I wouldn’t have missed this new found closeness I now have with Him for anything in world.

“For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food,” Romans 14:17-20.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Lysa TerKeurst.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Food • God • Opinion

soundoff (1,314 Responses)
  1. Pamela

    I have come out of the worst year yet and it was only in the power of scripture that I had memorized every 15 days that I can still hold my head up. Scripture has been the life and breath for me and I look forward to "Made to Crave" and the potential to grow my faith even more (and lose some weight)!! You are a blessing Lysa!!

    December 31, 2010 at 9:10 am |
    • jody

      I just started the every 15 day scripture.....are you a Beth Moore sis?

      January 2, 2011 at 3:46 am |
  2. bob

    Take 2 kids from birth, same family. Tell one about the word of God, pick a religion, tell the other nothing. In 20 years, have them both get together, have the first tell the second about the bible and God.
    1)Hey brother, got something to tell you
    2)Sup?
    1)there's this guy, God, he's the best, he loves everyone. He sent his son to earth, but he died for humans sins. He was nailed to a cross, died and 3 days later, he rose from the dead and joined his father in Heaven.
    2)Really?
    1)Ya, not only that there was this guy who split a river in half so he could cross it.
    2)Really?
    1)Ya, not only that... ah you should just read this book..
    2)Really? Dude.. Whatcha been smokin??

    Name me a war that WASN'T based on Religion... Ya.. couldn't name one either..

    IF god does exsist and He cares about people, this world would be a very different place. Lets say he does, with the state of the world today, I'd say God has a very sick sense of humor. I can't believe someone would LET this happen. Maybe we need to make God mad so he can flood the earth, but again, what type of "father" would do such a devistating act, cause he loves us?? God created heaven and earth, what about the rest of the black mass we call space and the planets to go with it? It would be naive to think that out of all the black mass, this planet is the ONLY one with life.
    I"ll all about faith, people can believe what they want, but don't tell us GOD MADE ME DO IT.

    December 31, 2010 at 9:00 am |
  3. kennilou

    Lysa, Thank God for your ministry... I love how He has used you to give hope to others... we serve a Living God
    God bless you Lysa and everyone who has posted a post, may they all find the peace and hope they need.

    December 31, 2010 at 8:47 am |
  4. Reality

    Starting the morning by curing the Three B Syndrome (Bred, Born and Brainwashed in Christianity) of two billion Christians to include L. TerKeurst

    From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

    Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

    To wit;

    From a major Catholic university's theology grad school white-board notes:

    "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
    Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

    Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

    Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

    The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

    Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

    "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
    http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

    The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

    Of course, we all know that angels are really mythical "pretty wingie talking thingies".

    With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

    An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue, ( Professors Crossan and Wright are On Faith panelists).

    "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

    So where are the bones? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

    December 31, 2010 at 8:34 am |
  5. Apostle Eric vonAnderseck

    Nothing wrong with asking God to assist. The habits of the flesh have that ingrained design for knowledge and pleasure. After 6000 years those roots are deep and genetically tangled.
    Unless the Lord had shorted those days no flesh should be saved.

    http://apostlestoday.net/

    December 31, 2010 at 8:29 am |
  6. Edwina

    Lysa,
    Thank you for your faithfulness in answering God's call to write this book and for your openness and honesty in sharing your journey of discovery. I look forward to reading the book and joining with you in the webcasts. God bless you as you serve Him!

    December 31, 2010 at 8:17 am |
  7. Denise

    Thanks Lysa. I am looking forward to joining you in January. You are a blessing to me and many, many others. Keep writing and keep telling us about what God is doing in your life. Your obedience has impacted many to live for Jesus.

    December 31, 2010 at 8:07 am |
  8. Sharon S.

    "A gift in disguise...." Love that! Life-changing truths in this article, Lysa! Thank you! Woo Hoo!

    December 31, 2010 at 8:04 am |
  9. jen sh

    Lysa – YOU ROCK!!!! Congrats on your weight loss and your love of God!! 🙂

    December 31, 2010 at 7:48 am |
  10. Amy

    Lysa is spot on! This book is life-changing. When taken to heart, her honesty and wisdom will have a profound impact on any reader. Thank you, Lysa, for being vulnerable and sharing your story as an encouragement to so many others!

    December 31, 2010 at 7:42 am |
  11. K.A.

    I can't believe you guys really think God keeps you slim. Only you keep you slim, and that's through watching what you eat and exercise. Actually, God doesn't do anything at all for anyone, because he doesn't exist. God is Santa Claus for adults, and prayer is only a waste of breath.

    December 31, 2010 at 7:32 am |
  12. Fran

    God has been dealing with me for years about not putting obedience to food above obedience to Him. I feel alone most of the time, because I have found in my Trinitarian church world travels, not many people usually bring this up. Rather, there have been jokes about how much people like food etc., which I use to find funny, but now I don't as much because I realize how serious it is. People who are Christians or who are Christian leaders should not joke about overeating , anymore than they would joke about any other sin. Anyhow, I was hoping God would start bringing the overindulgence in food out more, for His sake, so that people could start obeying Him more in this area, since that is what God wants, but also so that I could have more fellowship, because I have fallen back into this sin, even as a thin person and I could use the encouragement to stay obedient to God in this area. In the book of Hebrews, it says we should spur each other on to good works.

    December 31, 2010 at 7:22 am |
  13. Donna

    Prayer really does work, but only if you are committed to follow through on your request when God directs. Those of you who doubt haven't really tried, have you?? You can't say something doesn't work if you haven't tried it, right?

    December 31, 2010 at 6:13 am |
    • Zach

      I'm going to ask a voodoo doctor to kill a chicken and cast a spell on me so I can lose weight. I'll then proceed to exercise more and give credit to the voodoo spell. Does that prove anything except exercise is good for weight loss?

      December 31, 2010 at 3:45 pm |
  14. johnson

    Why are people even reading to faith section of the website if they don't believe or feel they can be informed by the article. Why are they wasting their time? Maybe an athiest can answer. I genuinely want to know 🙂

    December 31, 2010 at 5:35 am |
    • platypus

      I shall preface this with the fact that I speak ONLY for myself, and this is entirely my opinion... but when I read the Faith section of any news site, I come to read stories related to religious topics. This blog, in particular, followed by its comments... caught me off guard.

      I think my reaction would have been different had the author held herself responsible for her weight gain or lack of weight loss, instead of blaming her failure to lose weight on "God". When she said that she cursed God for not turning her car away from the Drive-Thru... I had to pause, because the words to explain truly failed me.

      I don't hold anyone's choice to believe or not believe against them, but I don't expect the same courtesy. I'm often called a fence-sitter, because as an agnostic, we are told that we lack everything from a soul to a brain. I just cannot understand praying to God to steer my car or manage my weight... in my personal world view, I cannot fathom God to be so micro-managing. Just because we don't believe the same things doesn't mean that we can't engage in meaningful discussion... right? 🙂 Cheers mate, and Happy New Year!

      December 31, 2010 at 7:21 am |
  15. Tim

    Food can become a "crutch", just as drug addition or alcohol can be because of problems. Lysa TerKeurst has made a keen observation, that enjoying life requires that one change their focus. Jesus told Satan, after not having eaten for forty days: "It is written (at Deut 8:3), ‘Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.’” Later, he told many of the crowd that he had fed miraculously: "Work, not for the food that perishes, but for the food that remains for life everlasting, which the Son of man will give you."(John 6:27) Jesus summed up what should be pursued foremost: "Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these [other] things will be added to you."(Matt 6:33)

    Food was meant to be enjoyed by our Creator (Ps 104:14, 15), and is necessary for life. However, spiritual food from the Bible is of far greater importance and those who reach for it, "seeking first the kingdom", can attain to life everlasting on a paradise earth. In poetic language, Isaiah 25:6 speaks of a "banquet" of spiritual food, whereby those who partake can look forward to Jehovah God ' swallow(ing) up death forever."(Isa 25:8)

    December 31, 2010 at 4:37 am |
    • Reality

      Many contemporary NT experts have concluded that John 6: 27 was not historic and was yet another embellishment made by John.

      e.g.

      "The commentary in The Five Gospels (p. 419) includes a cameo essay on the "I AM sayings in the Gospel of John:"

      ... the emphatic phrase "I AM" [Greek: ego eimi] was widely used in the Greco-Roman world, and would have been recognized by John's readers as an established formula in speech attributed to one of the gods. It is event possible that the author alludes to the famous self-revelation of God (Yahweh) in Exod 3:14: "I am who I am" ...
      The essay lists the 7 I AM sayings in the GJohn:

      6:35 I am the bread of life
      8:12 I am the light of the world
      8.58 I existed before Abraham ["before Abraham was I AM")
      10:11 I am the good shepherd
      11:25 I am the resurrection and the life
      14:6 I am the way, I am truth, and I am life
      15:1 I am the authentic vine "

      December 31, 2010 at 8:25 am |
  16. Missa

    Wow. You're a freaking nut.
    I have nothing against God, not at all. While I have my doubts, I totally believe that any lifestyle changes such as yours comes from within. Not from a higher power but from believing in yourself. If you can't do that, then you don't believe in anything really.

    Do you? Do you believe in yourself? Do you really believe that this is God's answer for you?

    Because I don't.

    God helps those who helps themselves.

    December 31, 2010 at 3:54 am |
  17. jody

    Everything Lysa writes is worth reading for me, including this article and her new book. Thank you Lysa and CNN for this article.

    December 31, 2010 at 3:48 am |
  18. Heather

    "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33
    Thank you Lysa for doing what God has called you to do. You are a woman of great character!

    December 31, 2010 at 2:39 am |
  19. Jeni

    Wow!!! I am amazed and saddened after reading the bickering, hatred and name calling that has taken place on this comment board. (and I didn't even read half of what was said.) So thank you CNN for posting this article! For whatever reason it disgusts some but I believe it can help many. Also thanks to Lysa for reaching out to others with the love of Jesus. Funny I shouldn't have been so surprised. Jesus has caused controversy since his birth.

    December 31, 2010 at 2:23 am |
  20. Melissa1004

    Jesus this...Moses that...Abraham hit me with a wiffle ball bat! I don't know if this lady's story is truthful or not but I do know for sure that she is selling a book about religion and weight loss. Follow the money folks, I'm just saying.

    December 31, 2010 at 1:24 am |
    • HotAirAce

      I suspect you are correct, and that we have provided her with lots of material for the sequel...

      December 31, 2010 at 2:52 am |
    • jody

      Maybe you should subscribe to her FREE blog and Proverbs 31 Ministries FREE devotionals. I'm just saying...

      December 31, 2010 at 3:53 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Or read some of her FREE articles. I thought the one about how to hear god was particularly hilarious – especially when she admits she has never actually heard god! And don't forget to BUY something from her online store.

      And if anyone is wondering why there ae so many responses hear, it's because Lysa asked her lemmings to post here to encourage CNN to post more similar articles. Can you say "building market demand?"

      December 31, 2010 at 10:57 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.