I try hard not to be negative. Especially on this blog. But I heard something on my favorite Christian radio station (I have an app to listen to them where ever I go) about the correlation between church attendance and good mental and physical health. The main thought is that those who go to church have a lower cancer rate and lower mental health issues. It blew my mind.
I want to state that my aim and goal and focus of this blog is health–physical, emotional and spiritual. We truly are holistic people, made in the image of God, made in His holiness and righteousness. But because human’s chose the wrong path, chose to do what they wanted to instead of what God asked them to do, we are now warped by this thing called sin. It is evasive in all of the things we do. It has colonized onto our DNA and won’t let go.
Because of this, we have disease. We have illnesses. We have cancer. We have depression. We have wars. We have poverty. We have this thing called obesity. Jesus Christ came to die for our sins–those sins that separate us from God. That constant act of doing what we want instead of what God has called us to. But Jesus also died so that the whole world would be free from the affects (or is that effects.. I always have an issue with which is the noun and which is the verb) of sin. That when the day of His coming again in glory and splendor and honor comes, we will be free from diseases. We will be free from depression. Free from cancer.
Then and only then will we be free. Church has nothing to do with it.
And so, when I had a chance, I looked up the study cited (you can too here). So, instead of telling you to Google this or that, I took a look at the citations that they give. There’s too much to got into for this blog but here’s a bit. There are two books and seven articles from sociology and psychology journals. The first book is by a reputable author who is the director of the Gerontology Center at Pennsylvania State University. The book looks at how religious organizations take care of the elderly. The second book cited, by reading the mixed reviews, isn’t as reputable scientifically. Journal entries on the other hand are for discussion and are usually published along with detractors and supporters of the paper.
That being said–You gotta be kidding me!!
This is what I do know from experience–Christians have depression at the same rate as non Christians. Many are too afraid to admit it for fear of having their very faith questioned. And reports like this reinforce that fear. There is the fear that if one has depression and that they are not cured of it, then their faith isn’t strong enough, or even worse as some have gone down the road to, are they truly saved?
And cancer? In October I stood by the casket of a 44 year-old Iraq War veteran who died of cancer. Just the week before, I stood at the graveside of an elderly woman who had gone into the hospital for the flu, slipped into a coma and died. And two weeks after that I once again stood at the graveside of a saint who passed due to age and infection. Which one had more faith? Which one attended church more? It doesn’t matter.
Church attendance doesn’t matter in the dealing with illnesses especially cancer and depression.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
It’s not the illness, it’s how you deal with it. It’s not the battle, it’s how you fight it. No matter what you are going through–constant pain, depression cancer, rocky relationships, rejection, hurt–you may find rest in Jesus Christ. You have rest available.
Where you go isn’t as important as to who you go to. Come to Christ. Find his rest. He will give you the comfort and rest you so need as you go through what you are going through until the day of his glorious returning.