Facts with Hope
FACT: A review of research literature supports the concept that forgiveness helps us to live longer. But a study last year found that forgiveness of self by physical therapy patients from the Appalachia area was associated with better physical, mental and overall health status, as well as current and chronic pain, .1
HOPE: The Bible is silent when it comes to a person forgiving himself. Instead, we are encouraged to accept the forgiveness of God. As Christians, we can facilitate health in others by sharing this message of hope, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us,” Psalm 103:12, NIV.
FACT: An optimistic outlook appears to be a significant predictor of survival among the oldest-old women. In a twelve-year study of Danish people over 90 years old, women who were more optimistic were at lower risk of death compared to their neutral counterparts. This pattern persisted even after adjusting for confounding factors such as baseline physical and cognitive functioning and disease.2
HOPE: The Psalmist also observed this relationship between optimism and aging in Psalm 92:12-15, pointing out the source of our optimistic outlook: “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree . . . . They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; He is my Rock” (NIV).
FACT: Researchers found that in people living with chronic illness, such as arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes, acts of gratitude and forgiveness are associated with enhanced quality of life.3
HOPE: Chronic illnesses are long-term or permanent, and often cause significant stress, pain and disability. But with a focus that is upward (gratitude toward God) and outward (forgiving others), a satisfied and meaningful life is possible.
FACT: A resilient attitude, even more than good physical health, is related to successful aging. Researchers surveyed 1,006 randomly selected adults between the ages of 50 and 99 and found that those with low physical functioning but high resilience had comparable self-ratings of their degree of successful aging to those of physically healthy people who were less resilient.4
HOPE: Perfect physical health is neither necessary nor sufficient for successful aging. By drawing on spiritual resources, such as meditating on God’s promises and turning problems over to Him, we can foster resilience and age successfully.
- Svalina, S. S., & Webb. J. R. (2012). Forgiveness and health among people in outpatient physical therapy. Disability and Rehabilitation 34(5), 383-392. http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/09638288.2011.607216
- Engberg, H., Jeune, B., Andersen-Ranberg, K., Martinussen, T., Vaupel, J. W., & Christensen, K. (2013). Optimism and survival: does an optimistic outlook predict better survival at advanced ages? A twelve-year follow-up of Danish nonagenarians. Aging Clinical and Experimental Research 25, 517-525. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s40520-013-0122-x
- Eaton, R. J., Bradley, G., & Morrissey, S. (August 8, 2013, Epub ahead of print). Positive predispositions, quality of life and chronic illness. Psychology, Health & Medicine. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13548506.2013.824593
- Jeste, D. V., Savla, G. N., Thompson, W. K., Vahia, I. V., Glorioso, D. K., Martin, A., Palmer, B. W., … Depp, C. A. (2013). Association between older age and more successful aging: Critical role of resilience and depression. American Journal of Psychiatry, Feb 2013; 170(2), 188-196. http://dx.doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2012.12030386