Health Devo: Parasympathetic Peace in Your Sympathetic Situation

We quote this Scripture all the time, but to we truly understand the power in its promise?
{devotions for healthy living}

 Parasympathetic Peace in Your Sympathetic Situation

aka How Can You Eat at a Time Like This??
by Dr. Asha S. Fields Brewer
Psalm 23:5 (ESV)-You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…
We quote this Scripture all the time, but do we really understand the power in its promise? Let’s look at the human body’s nervous system to help us grasp how awesome this promise truly is.
  1. The nervous system is comprised of two divisions: the Central Nervous System (CNS), which is the brain and spinal cord; and the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS), which is the nerves that travel all over the body and are located outside of the central system.
  2. The Peripheral Nervous System is further broken down into various subsystems, one of those being the Autonomic System.  The Autonomic System controls the functions of organs- such as the heart, colon, stomach, lungs, etc.
  3. The Autonomic Nervous System is further divided into the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic systems. It is in comprehending these terminal subdivisions that we can further explore and fully grasp the promise in “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…”
The Sympathetic Nervous System is nicknamed “fight or flight.”  It is the system that kicks in when your body is under attack physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.  Imagine that a bear is chasing you in the forest.  It is the Sympathetic system that commands tasks essential for survival, like making sure blood gets to the arms and legs so you can run, increasing the heart rate, increasing muscle tone, clotting blood in case you nick yourself or get bitten, etc.  Tasks that are not essential for survival, like digesting food and eliminating feces, are kept at a minimum.
The Parasympathetic Nervous System is the exact opposite.  It is nicknamed “rest and digest.”  This system kicks in during non-emergency situations.  It is responsible for digestion, elimination of feces and urine, rest, relaxation, and other similar functions.  
Our body‘s organs are designed to best operate “fight or flight” tasks in a Sympathetic/ emergency environment, and “rest and digest” tasks in a Parasympathetic/non-emergency environment.  When we try to flip the two or superimpose tasks, we end up with ill-functioning and disordered parts.  This is why eating  when you’re mad, stressed out, or in a hurry can cause indigestion or loss of appetite.  Hence the popular phrase, “How can you eat at a time like this??!” Knowing and understanding these concepts, let us again consider the text, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies….”
God designed the body, so He does not need a review in anatomy and physiology.  Yet, He has called you to EAT (non-emergency task) IN FRONT OF the bear (emergency task).  Wow!  Taking it a step further, we already discussed the ill-effects of superimposing the two systems, so why would God even set you up like that?  Why would He prepare a nice meal for you in the face of your attacker, only to leave you at risk of indigestion or loss of appetite? Get this…God never plans

Get the rest of the article here on the Tallahassee community blog.

Marieb, Elaine N. Human Anatomy & Physiology: Sixth Edition. San Francisco, CA; Pearson Education; 2003.
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