1st December 2013

Faith on Prescription 

“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”
3 John 2 (NKJV (emphasis added) UK) 

Some atheists claim that belief in God is immature and subjective. They say that religion is for the hesitant, the guilt-ridden, the excessively timid and those lacking clear convictions with which to face life. Some of these atheists even see religion as a cause of mental and physical illness. But a recent study done by the British charity, Christian Medical Fellowship, known as the CMF, shows otherwise. There are actually strong links between emotional and physical health.

Drawing on evidence from more than 1,200 studies and 400 reviews, this study showed that, far from being bad for health, being a practising Christian can have significant benefits to both physical and mental well-being. Moreover, evidence from these studies and reviews has shown an association between a life of faith and a number of positive health benefits, including: protection from illness; coping with illness, and faster recovery from it. In fact, of all the studies reviewed, 81 per cent showed benefit and only 4 per cent showed harm. The 4 per cent were among religions which refuse vaccination and blood transfusions. 

So what particular health benefits were identified in the report? Here are a few:
            •           Increased well-being, happiness and life satisfaction
            •           Lower rates of depression
            •           Less anxiety (and related illnesses)
            •           Lower rates of alcohol and drug abuse
            •           Better adaptation to bereavement.
One study of 21,204 adults showed that those who attended church regularly had a life expectancy up to 14 years longer than those who did not. 

The report goes on to suggest that modern doctors need to listen to their patients, “who typically are more religious than their carers [caregivers].” It suggests that doctors support spiritual care, because at a time of illness, spiritual issues often rise to the surface—questions of personal worth, mortality and place in the world—questions only faith can answer. 

Even though faith can have a very positive influence on health, we who believe in God and the Christian faith should not claim that our faith is a guarantee of good health and well-being. That is not always the case. The gospel is not ‘a name it and claim it’ message about health and wealth. The gospel is about spiritual health and well-being. We should not claim that belief in God is a guarantee of good health. But we can point out that the claim some atheists make about belief in God being bad for your health is simply not borne out by the facts.

Prayer
Holy Father, physical health is of great moment to us. But you are more concerned with spiritual health. Help us to have your perspective, rather than our own. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen

Study by Joseph Tkach

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joeandtammyAbout the Author:
Joseph Tkach is the President of Grace Communion International (the Denominational name of The Worldwide Church of God UK), and resides in California, USA.

You are welcome to attend one of our local Church congregations located throughout the UK.  For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.wcg.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

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