How long do you expect to live? How long would you like to live?
Most people I know would like to live longer if they could live healthily and happily. You probably would, too.
A few days ago USA TODAY published an article which cited the research of two colleagues at Harvard University. Building on more than 20 years of prior work in this area, they suggested that attending religious services brings about better physical and mental health.
Their research indicates that adults who attend church at least once a week versus those who don’t attend at all have a significantly lower risk of dying over the next 15 years. They also show that the results have been replicated in enough studies to be considered quite reliable.
They ask these questions: “If one could conceive of a single elixir to improve the physical and mental help of millions of Americans – – at no personal cost – – what value would our society place on it? Going a step further, if research quite conclusively showed that when consumed just once a week, this concoction would reduce mortality by 20% to 30% over a 15 year period, how urgently would we want to make it publicly available?”
They conclude that this “miracle drug” is readily available and in reach of most Americans.
They further conclude that “Religion may be a miracle drug.” They also conclude that “Church attendance is correlated with longer life and a sense of meaning.”
I think we all know this is true, but what makes it true? What is it about faith that blesses us in so many ways?
First, isn’t it about living at peace with God and at peace with yourself? When we trust Christ we receive the Holy Spirit within us. The Spirit”s fruit produced in our life is love, joy, and peace as well as many other positive qualities.
Second, isn’t it knowing that your present and future – – including all eternity – – is in the hands of a loving and kind heavenly Father?
Third, isn’t it about the community of believers? Even the researchers saw the value of being in a society of other people who care for you.
Finally, isn’t it about a life of prayer? I know that Martha and I are sustained by the prayers of God’s people. We are amazed at His blessings.
Speaking of prayer, could it be that Christians are blessed by the intercession of other believers in their church fellowships?
Here’s what we know: our God is a God of goodness and blessings. He enriches our lives and shares with us all of his good gifts.
As the contemporary praise song says, He’s a “good, good Father.”