Facts with Hope
Fact: Just four in 10 Americans report attending church weekly, according to a 2013 Gallup poll-a number that has stayed relatively consistent since the 1940s. Perhaps the fast pace of a secular society has changed the priorities in many people’s lives during this century, leaving church attendance at the bottom of the list.
Hope: Regular church attendance reduces the risk of death by about 20 percent, according to a study of more than 92,000 older women. Controlled for benefits related to social interaction and other health-related factors, results showed a protective effect attributable to church participation alone. Why not reconsider your church attendance practice remembering the apostle’s words, “Beloved, I pray that... you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” (3 John 1:2, ESV)
Fact: In 2012, there were an estimated 9.6 million adults diagnosed with several mental illness and an estimated 43.7 million adults in the U.S. with any form of mental illness, from anxiety to obsessive compulsive disorder, according to National Institute of Mental Health data.
Hope: Prayer and meditation have been shown to relieve stress, depression and other mental illnesses among a wide variety of groups. One study showed that individuals for whom religion serves as the defining and organizing purpose of their lives—recovered more quickly from bouts of depression. And for those with serious mental illness, religious and spiritual activities are the most often cited in strategies that are beneficial to their state of mind. Paul writes, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:7)
Fact: More than 32 percent of adults over age 20 suffer from high blood pressure, according to the Center for Disease Control. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and mortality, as well as among the top causes for other chronic health conditions. Anger and frustration has been shown to raise the level of stress hormones in the body, triggering negative health effects such as high blood pressure.
Hope: Those with hypertension have seen dramatic benefits from learning to forgive. In one study, those who scored high on anger test no longer required blood pressure medication when participating in a forgiveness program. As someone said, you simply cannot swallow a poison pill and hope the other person dies, so why not consider forgiveness because it’s good for yourself?
Fact: Nearly 10 percent of people in the U.S. and nearly 27 percent of those 65 and older report they are in “poor” or “fair” health.
Hope: In a study by faith and health at Baylor University (USA) participants who indicated that they felt loved by God and who loved Him in return, were more likely to feel they experience better health – an effective health indicator. Something about experiencing a loving relationship with God is apparently capable of influencing how one’s health is perceived, and for the better, according to the researcher. Consider choosing to deepen your relationship with God today by prayer and Bible study, ideally first thing in the morning.
- Gallup. (2013). In U.S., four in 10 report attending church in last week.
- Schnall, et al. (2010). The relationship between religion and cardiovascular outcomes and all-cause mortality in the Women’s Health Initiative Observation Study. Psychology & Health, 25, 249-263.
- Koenig, H.G., George, L.K., & Peterson, B.L. (1998). Psychiatry, 155(4).
- National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/index.shtml
- Russinova, Z., Wewiorski, N.J., & Cash, D. (2002). Use of alternative health care practices by persons with serious mental illness: perceived benefits. American Journal of Public Health, 92(10).
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Hypertension.
- Tibbits, D. & al (2006). Hyptertension reduction through forgiveness training. The Journal of Pastoral Care and Counseling, 60 (1-2).
- HealthyPeople.gov. (2007). General health status.