How to experience peace and hope in the midst of a worldwide pandemic…
Viewpoint of Mark Cadwallader, Creation Moments Board Chairman
This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope.
It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed,
because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
The Lord is my portion saith my soul;
therefore will I hope in him. – Lamentations 3:21-24
Hope – an expectation that is desired – is a wonderful thing! With hope you can make yourself feel positive emotion. Which means, as we discussed last month, that there is a chemical/physical response in the human body connected to the release of feel-good hormones.
Indeed, Romans 15:13 tells us: “The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
Good feelings of “joy and peace” are connected with hope. Note also that there is a spiritual intersection and connection between the chemical and the physical world. Notice, too, from the above scripture that “believing” is connected with hope. That is because “faith is the substance of things hoped for…” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is the basis. If you believe, you can make yourself hope! And you can make yourself feel good – in body and soul! This also translates to better health.
Neuroscientists have new ways to study the connections between attitudes of the mind, the physical and the electrochemical responses in the brain … as well as the human body as a whole. They have various ways now to observe various attitude connections with physical disease or well-being. For example, neuroscientists can use Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to look at changes in blood flow to different parts of the brain.
They can also use Single-Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) brain scans to see what areas of the brain are electro-chemically on or off during a certain state of mind. In other words, they can get a snapshot of hormone activity from dopamine or oxytocin or serotonin or adrenaline, etc. These particular hormones also function as neurotransmitters in the brain – the difference being that hormones are part of the circulatory system (the blood) while neurotransmitters are specifically purposed to conduct electrical energy across nerve fiber endings (synapses). Neuroscientists can also use Positron Emission Tomography (PET) brain scans to measure oxygen consumption and to track neurotransmitters and hormone activity.
Here at Creation Moments, we know that scriptural truth is vindicated not only in the moral, spiritual and historical arenas, but in the scientific as well. And though scans such as those described above cannot measure spiritual activity directly, scientists can observe the effects – and see increased activity that surprisingly shows increased relaxation and bliss along with increased focus and excitation! It is no wonder that studies correlate Christian faith and prayer to medical, social and psychological benefits.
Prayer and meditation on God’s Word have the power to heal and change lives. Not only does prayer move God, it blesses us as we are renewed in hope, faith, wisdom and the love of God in Christ. Our great Creator designed and made us for unity with Him!
Christian commitment helps people cope with stress better and experience greater well-being because they have more hope and optimism, experience less depression, less anxiety, lower suicide rates, and have stronger immune systems. Since the Bible tells us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”, we can expect medical and psychological benefits to follow!
And when Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones”, a scientifically profound truth comes to pass. Not only are we finding increased evidence that a joyful disposition and positive attitude help folks recover from ailments, but the immune system – which kicks into high gear with a “merry heart” – is derived from healthy bone marrow! How could the writer of ancient times have connected “dry bones” to an emotional state that contrasts with good health? – except that the Holy Spirit moved him to say it that way?
The Bible teaches that the hope of salvation is a “sure and steadfast” … “anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19) and is a helmet of defense for our heads – our minds. We are “putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:8b). The world needs hope. It needs people who have “the hope that maketh not ashamed (does not disappoint)”, the “hope of the glory of God” through faith in Christ Jesus (Romans 5:1-5).
At this juncture in history – in the midst of a pandemic which has killed thousands, shut down economies, thrown people out of work, spread fear and forced us to forego fellowship of family, friends and Christian brethren – there is an extra need to dig deep to protect our minds and hearts with the armor of God. And there is a unique opportunity to spread hope to others!
Forty years ago this spring, the volcanic Mount St. Helens exploded in southern Washington State. Yet, what we see in the 40 years since is a story of hope and renewal. This is a picture of how new life proceeds from catastrophic occurrences. And this is our story as Christians in a fallen world with its setbacks and catastrophes.
Won’t you join me in joyfully proclaiming that the Lord’s “mercies and compassions are new every morning”. Great indeed is His faithfulness!
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