Apologetics, Main, Miracles, News, Studies, z109
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Study reveals the heart health benefits of optimism


Field of sunflowers, Lower Saxony, Germany Credit: Christian Kortum/Flickr/Creative Commons

Field of sunflowers, Lower Saxony, Germany Credit: Christian Kortum/Flickr/Creative Commons

An article published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology stated that having a positive outlook on life results in a person having a reduced risk of heart disease. In their study, the research group led by Darwin R. Labarthe, a professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, looked at the results of several studies on the impact of a person’s psychological well-being on heart health. They revealed that an optimistic view of life not only positively impacted a person’s heart health, but that optimistic outlook also led to lifestyle choices that physically benefited heart health. This included:
  • A 2017 study that found women who were in the top 25% for highest optimistic ranking had a 38% reduced risk of dying due to heart disease.
  • Several recent studies discovered that people who had a purpose in their life had a reduced risk of stroke.
  • Studies also revealed that people who had the most optimistic outlook on life where less likely to be smokers a year later.
  • Optimistic people were also more likely to be involved in physical activity and to eat healthy foods such as vegetables that benefit heart health.
Labarthe concluded that having a positive outlook on life had such a profound impact on a person’s heart health, that medical practitioners should include a person’s psychological well-being as part of treatment. In the book of Proverbs, King Solomon acknowledged centuries earlier that positivity was good for a person’s health.
A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22 NASV)
The Hebrew word for medicine “gehah” means “causes good healing,” or “something that treats or alleviates the symptoms of disease.” In other words a merry, glad and thankful heart contributes to a person’s good health. For Christians, a big part of being positive involves faith. We not only need to believe that God is with us, but that God is for us as well:
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 NASV)
This verse was part of a prophecy that Jeremiah sent to a group of Jews who were in a difficult situation. The Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, had ripped these people from their country and their homes and marched them off into captivity in Babylon. And God was giving these people a message that in the midst of this trial, God was with them. In the midst of their captivity, Jeremiah encouraged the people to:
Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’ (Jeremiah 29:7 NASV)
In other words, they were not to mourn their situation and feel sorry for themselves, but to build and strengthen the Babylonian cities where they lived. They were to sincerely pray in faith for their captors and as they did this God would bless the Jews in captivity. They needed to have a positive attitude, but more than that they needed to believe God was with them at a very difficult time. One of Bible’s main messages is faith:
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40 NIV) For we live by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV) For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. (1 John 5:4 NIV) But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. (James 1:6 NIV) May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 NIV)
We need to believe, because God answers prayer. I have written several stories about miraculous healings, but one of my favorites involves Sharyn Mackay, a pastor’s wife from Newcastle, Co Down in Northern Ireland. In 2004, doctors diagnosed her with an extremely rare form of kidney cancer. And when doctors discovered the cancer had spread to other parts of her body, they decided not to treat her with chemotherapy and surgery because her case was terminal. They sent Sharyn home to die. But Sharyn didn’t give up. She decided to believe. She read the verse in Isaiah that said “by His (Christ’s) stripes, we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). She wondered if that promise was still for today. A small group in the church began to pray and believe for Sharyn’s healing. In April 2004, when Sharyn returned to the doctor for a check up, he decided to send her for a scan to find out how long she had to live. In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, Sharyn told what happened next:
“Four radiographers studied the scans and none of them could quite believe it. The tumours had gone and I was told to leave the hospital and live a full life. The cancer has never come back and I have never felt better.”
But it doesn’t stop there, Lisa Smyth who wrote the article for the Belfast Telegraph asked the doctors for an explanation on what happened. Medicine had given up and thrown her to the cancer wolves. The best the doctors could come up with was that her immune system had somehow caused a “spontaneous” healing. Sources:
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