“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:6-7

In Western culture we have a tendency to make sharp distinctions between the physical and spiritual world; yet, God’s word and experience teach that body, soul, and spirit are uniquely intertwined. Often the spiritual world has a greater impact on our physical reality than we realize. Our level of trust on God can have a direct effect on our health. Recent research has confirmed what people have always known, that psychological stressors affect physical health in a drastic way. Psychological stress can result from major life events such as a divorce or a loss in the family, repeated daily stressors (like work or school), and negative interpersonal relationships. What is stressful to one person, however, may or may not be stressful to another, because stress is largely based on individual perceptions.

While stressors don’t necessarily have spiritual causes, they often can: unforgiveness, hate, fear, and pride are a few examples. Yet, no matter the stressor, it can and should be dealt with in a spiritual way (physical coping methods like exercise, adequate rest, and healthy eating play important but secondary roles). According to Philippians 4:6-7, if we take our stressful situations to God, he will give us peace. The one condition is that we do it with thanksgiving. Thankfulness requires faith that God is good despite the circumstances, it also promotes a positive focus on the good things God is doing or has already done, rather than on what is causing anxiety in the moment. If we approach our Father with this attitude, he promises that his peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!

The protection of our hearts and minds with God’s peace becomes especially important when we consider the researched consequences of anxiety and stress. One study looked at daily stressors experienced in the work place and found a direct correlation, independent of other factors, between long-term workplace stress and metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, obesity, and cardiovascular disease). [1] Another meta-study found that stress greatly weakens the immune system, significantly lowering blood levels of important T and B Cells (cells that fight against viruses, toxins, and cancer). [2] Also, multiple studies have demonstrated correlations between long-term stress and psychological disorders.[3] Looking at these studies as a whole, it becomes clear that stress may be one of the most significant factors of poor health.

So, while exercise and good nutrition are important components of vitality, a healthy heart and mind depend on the peace of God. The spiritual laws of his kingdom have the greatest bearing on reality, and according to God’s word, “…the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

[1] British Medical Journal
[2] Psychosomatic Medicine
[3] American Journal of Community Psychology

Originally posted 2011-03-29 15:28:00.

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