“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name… With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91:14,16
"I believe in God…" begins the affirmation of the Apostles' Creed. But does what you believe make much difference in how long you live, or even more pointedly, in the quality of the life you live? It does, contends a growing body of scientific evidence. The relationship between your belief system and your health is better documented every year. Dr. Harold G. Koenig, director of Duke University's Center for the Study of Religion/Spirituality and Health says scientists and doctors "have to confront it. They can't just say religion is irrelevant to health. It is relevant."
In the 90’s the subject gained impetus when a medical doctor began praying with his patients and noticed improvement immediately. Then, wanting to make his study more scientific, he formed control groups where the individuals themselves did not know people were praying specifically for them. What happened? He documented improvements and then published his findings to the great disdain of the skeptics who were convinced that prayer and faith are religious hocus-pocus.
Now more than 212 studies later, the evidence is overwhelming, proving there is a correlation between your belief in God and your health. And what are the results of Dr. Koenig's research?
- People who attend church regularly are hospitalized less often that those who never or rarely participate in church services.
- People who pray and read the Bible have lower blood pressure.
- People who attend religious services have stronger immune systems than their less religious counterparts.
- There is a correlation between religious involvement and health.
- People who are deeply committed to the Lord have fewer heart attacks, recover more quickly if they do have heart problems and live longer than those with no profession of faith.
Research has done it again! They have certified the obvious, at least that which has been obvious to pastors, hospital chaplains, and even morticians who have been witnesses to the fact that people who live by the Bible have less worry, cope with stress better, and trust God to take them through the storm which maims or kills individuals of lesser faith.
Why? When you believe what God says in His Word, it affects how you react to stress which drives up your blood pressure, overtaxes your heart, and eventually drains life from your body. Does that mean that Christians have fewer problems? Not necessarily, but they are able to better cope with them. The result: their problems make them better, not bitter, and they outlive them.
An old gentleman well into his 80’s was once approached by a friend who said, "I understand that you don't have an enemy in the world. Is that right?" The old man paused in contemplation, then said, "Yes, that's right!" "Marvelous, marvelous," replied the friend, adding, "What's your secret?" He paused again in deep thought. "I guess I just outlived 'em all," he said.
Trying to get even, holding grudges, refusing to forgive are the killers that can put you in the grave long before your enemies get there. Well does the Bible promise, "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked…" and "Honor your father and mother that your days may be long upon the earth," to saying nothing of promises such as "With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."
Researchers have proved it: If you want to live a long, healthy life, better live God's ways. Living a long time may be a wrong motive, but it seems that's the way it works out when you live and practice what you believe.
Resource reading: Psalm 1:1-6