Friday, November 02, 2007

Health Nutz, pt. 2: Joy in the Midst of Pain

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

-James 1:2-4 (NIV)

"Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly."

-Phillippians 1:12-14 (NIV)

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus..."

-Phillippians 2:3-5 (NIV)
"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."

-Galatians 6:2 (NIV)

Peace and blessings,

About a couple of weeks ago, I
  • posted a piece
  • about this notion that one of the latent results of following Christ is that our lives will be healthier mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. For this second installation of this piece, I want to focus on mental health. Anyone who looks at the news on a somewhat consistent basis knows just how many "issues" we as a human race have to deal with. From broader issues such as racism, materialism, poverty, conflict, famine, and political corruption to the more individual -level issues such as anger, jealousy, lust, deception, selfishness, close-mindedness, apathy, and so forth, it is apparent that there can be dangerous consequences for being consumed by any of these things. Further, given that each of these issues can affect how we view ourselves, others, and the world, it follows that being consumed by any of these things can also have detrimental effects on our mental health. Studies have shown that stress may affect the
  • heart
  • and may also make us more susceptible to contracting
  • an infection.
  • Furthermore, it is now being argued that the pressures of consumerism may contribute to
  • stress in kindergarten and elementary school-aged children
  • . In other words, that stress is no joke mayne!

    A few weeks back I was reading an article on stress and coping for my public health class, and the authors discussed this notion of positive reappraisal as a healthy response to stressful or potentially stressful situations. In a nutshell, positive reapprasial is the act of discovering opportunities for personal growth (an perceiving actual personal growth) in the midst of experiencing a stressful or potentially stressful situation. Furthermore, it involves seeing how one's own response can benefit other people (Folkman and Moskowitz, 2004). When I read this, I immediately thought about how we as Christians (as demonstrated by the above scriptures) are supposed to give God the glory in the midst of our trials and pain, knowing that we have the victory and He will bring us through. Reacting this way not only strengthens our faith in God and better equips us to handle future situations, but it also ministers to those to whom we may be connected and/or have influence. As I continually get reminded of God's love and grace towards me, I am gaining a better understanding of why it is so important for us as Christians to handle situations in a way that gives God the glory. For one, I think that because of how badly the Christian faith has been distorted and mis-appropriated (historically and presently), we as Christians are probably the most watched group in the world. People are waiting for us to fall or slip-up so we can be called hypocrites and for our faith to be discredited. Second, I think that one of God's primary purposes for us is so bring about character change, so that we become better people. Now I am not suggesting that everything that we go through is "caused" by God because I personally don't believe that. What I do believe, however, is that there are times where God puts us in certain situations to show us some things that we need to see in order for us to be the people He has called us to be.

    To conclude, I pray that when we go through trials, we ask ourselves "What would Jesus do? How can I respond to this in a way that gives Him glory? Who will I influence by my response?" By doing so, I think that we, as well as those around us, will be better off spiritually, mentally, and physically. What do you think? How do you tend to handle trials? What works for you? What doesn't work? Until next time, stay blessed and speekonit...

    Source: Folkman, S. & Moskowitz, J. T. (2004). Stress, positive emotion, and coping. In T. Oltmanns & R. E. Emery (eds.), Current Directions in Abnormal Psychology (p. 83-87): Prentice Hall.

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