Is There a Connection between Your Spiritual and Physical Health?
Recently I was interviewed by a local health and wellness magazine on the relationship of spiritual to physical health. In my preparation I discovered some amazing studies like this:
“Recent studies indicate that men and women who practice in any of the mainstream faiths have above-average longevity, fewer strokes, less heart disease, less clinical depression, better immune-system function, lower blood pressure, and fewer anxiety attacks, and they are much less likely to commit suicide than the population at large. These findings come from secular medical schools and schools of public health….” (The New Republic, July 1999, 20).
Studies like these beg the question, “Why?” Here’s where it gets really fascinating. Research correlates following the Bible’s teachings with hidden health benefits. Here are just a few.
Practicing biblical faith makes you more hopeful and optimistic in times of trial. John Ortberg cites a study of heart attack patients in which two factors—loss of hope or pessimism—increased odds of death 300%. That’s a lot! These factors predicted death more accurately than any medical risk factor, including blood pressure, amount of damage to the heart, or cholesterol level. One study said,Optimistic people . . . cope with stress more effectively. The Bible is full of references that a regular practice of public and private communion with God renews our hope in His nearness and power (see Psalms 42, 46; Romans 5:1-11; James 1:2-12). This in turn lightens our load enabling us to worry less benefiting the body as well as the soul. As Ortberg writes, Hope does not just motivate people to positive action. It actually has healing power.
Practicing biblical faith makes your relationships healthier and less stressful. The Bible is replete with counsel on how to treat one another by handling anger properly, dealing with bitterness, learning to forgive, and controlling our tongue (see Ephesians 4:25-32). Not only does this please God, but it makes our relationships smoother which affects our health. A study in Time magazine reported that people in happy marriages are healthier. “Studies have shown that happily married women have less blockage in their aortas, and that happily married couples are less likely to suffer from heart disease.”When a relationship is healthy and caring, the partners tend to discourage bad habits and encourage good ones, leading to fewer illnesses and more attention to health care. Treat each other as the Bible says is actually good medicine.
Practicing biblical faith helps you deal with destructive emotions like guilt. Psychiatrist Karl Menninger of the famous Menninger Clinic once said if he could convince his patients that their sins were forgiven, 75% of them could walk out the next day. Unforgiveness puts a strain on the psyche that disturbs mental soundness, but it can also sap physical energy. David said, When I kept silent [about my sin], my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. . . . my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer, Psalm 32:3-4. Following the Bible’s teaching on how to deal with sin rids the body of the weight of such guilt (see Psalm 51).
Practicing biblical faith leads you to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Christians know from Scripture that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and are to be treated with respect. Honor God with your body says 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Newsweek magazine reported a study on religion and health thatindicates a person attending church weekly is less likely to become depressed, and more likely to exercise, quit smoking, and stop drinking. In other words, obeying Scripture motivates you to make healthy choices that honor the body and the God who gave it.
Your friend, Pastor Brian (:-}).