The following is taken from the February, 2016 issue of Crossroads, a Newsletter of the Center for Spirituality, Theology & Health, Duke University. Many of you will find this research interesting.
In one of the first reports from the Landmark Spirituality and Health Survey, researchers at the University of Michigan analyzed cross- sectional data from a nationwide survey of 1,774 U.S. adults to identify associations between a benevolent view of God, gratitude to God, hope, and physical health. A benevolent image of God was determined by agreement to the three statements: “Despite my shortcomings, I feel forgiven by God”; “I believe God is merciful”; and “I believe God will forgive my shortcomings.” Also assessed were frequency of attendance at religious services, spiritual support from one’s congregation, gratitude to God, and hope. Physical health was measured by a checklist of 10 physical symptoms and two self-rated health items (overall health rating and health related to others). Structural equation modeling was used to examine relationships, controlling for age, gender, education, and marital status.
Results: Persons who attended religious services more often and received more spiritual support from members of their congregation had a more benevolent image of God; those with a more benevolent image of God were more grateful to God; those who were more grateful to God experienced more hope; and greater hope was associated with better self-rated health and fewer physical symptoms. Researchers concluded that “…the foundational views that people have of God (i.e., their images of God) may have important health consequences.”
Citation: Krause N, Emmons RA, Ironson G (2015). Benevolent images of God, gratitude, and physical health status. Journal of Religion and Health 54:1503-1519
Comment: This one of the first studies conducted in a national random sample of U.S. adults to show that a person’s view of God may impact their physical health. Again, the cross-sectional nature of this sample prevents statements about the direction of cause or effect. Therefore, better physical health may also generate greater hope, greater hope may cause more gratitude to God, and more gratitude to God may result in a more benevolent image of God.
It matters to our overall well being what we think or believe about God. Knowing who God is, according to the Holy Bible, is critical to one’s well being. One powerful example is this. The Bible tells us that God’s Son died on a cross so that we can be forgiven of our wrongdoings, and have a relationship with our Creator, God.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
If we believe and embrace this truth in our heart, it sets us up to spend eternal life in heaven, and favors well being here on this earth.