The Difference Our Faith Makes
September 15, 2022
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Isaiah 26:3 NLT
I have either been preparing for fulltime ministry or fulfilling that calling since I was 18. Don’t ask me how many years that is—just know it takes more than my fingers and toes to add it up. 😊 It did not take me long as I served, counseled, taught, and visited to see that in the crises of life, there was generally a dramatic difference between those who actively practiced religious faith and those who did not. It seemed to me that those who identified themselves as practicing believers had more emotional and social support, a more positive outlook, and a greater hope and motivation to get through the crisis and thrive.
An article in a 2015 review examining over 3,000 scholarly articles for the International Journal of Emergency Mental Health and Human Resilience found a “positive effect” of religion/spirituality on a variety of health outcomes, including “depression, faster recovery from depressive episodes, lower rates of suicide, less use, abuse and substance dependence, greater well-being, and self-reported happiness.” Interestingly, the research showed that simple faith or religious belief was not particularly effective on its own, but active participation was what led to significant improvement. The more frequent worship service attendees did better, for instance, in recovering from depression (The Journal of Nervous and Medical Disease, M. Baetz, R. Griffin). With great regularity, research indicates that those whose faith is central to their lives have more coping skills that are accessible to them regardless of financial, social, physical, or mental circumstances. Their healthier lifestyles (rest, monogamous sex, moderation in all things, etc.) assist them through life's difficulties. The most vulnerable groups in society have always throughout history found great ability to withstand stress, tension, and anxiety through their faith relationships. Prayer or meditation diminishes self-blame and anger, stabilizes emotional ups and downs, and improves self-awareness, as well as improves the management of obstacles such as panic attacks, depression, insomnia, drug use, stress, chronic pain, and other health problems.
I could cite page after page of scientific findings that an active life of faith and regular interaction with God and a group of believers makes an individual stronger and more able to cope with the curveballs of life. But the best evidence is your own personal choice to daily prioritize your relationship with Jesus and His family. Your focus determines your future. If you fix your focus on the person of Jesus and His presence with you, increasing peace will follow.
- How can you better actively participate in and practice your faith to bring peace into your life?