by Don Ingwerson
A young boy, observing his grandfather reading the Bible everyday, thought he should do the same. However, he grew tired of reading the Bible daily, as he never remembered anything he read. He told his grandfather that he could see no reason to keep reading the Bible every day – he didn’t remember anything from it!
His wise grandfather didn’t respond directly but asked his grandson to take an old dirty woven basket used to carry coal and fill it with water and bring it to him. The boy went to do this but found that the water drained out before he could get back to the house – no matter how fast he ran, the basket was empty. So he told his grandfather that it was useless to fill the basket with water as it all drained out before he got back to him. His grandfather asked him to look at the basket – and the boy found that now it was so clean it was almost white.
I wish I had a similarly profound answer when people (of all ages) ask me why I think it’s important to attend church and Sunday school. Even though I don’t have that profound answer, what I do know is that research is indicating that there is a good, justifiable reason for going to church – and it’s related to one’s health.
An abstract from the archives of Family Medicine examined religious commitment or religious involvement in the prevention of illness, coping with illnesses that have already arisen, and recovery from illness, and found a beneficial role with this religious commitment.
Because of the strong relationship between health and religious commitment, research reinforces the idea of including clergy and chaplains in supporting patients, and has been as important as the medical in this support. In an article, Jeffery D. Robinson and Jon F. Nusbaum quantify the increasing number of medical schools offering religious education as part of the medical curriculum.
As early as the late nineteenth-century, health researcher and theologian, Mary Baker Eddy, described the importance of, “man’s right to adopt a religion, to employ a physician, to live or to die according to the dictates of his own rational conscience and enlightened understanding.” She continues, “I reluctantly foresee great danger threatening our nation [from] a lax system of religion.” (Miscellany, pp. 128-129)
With the finding that religious commitment is important to health, it becomes more important than ever to have knowledgeable religious practitioners and communities of faith available to help support individuals seeking to maintain and/or restore their health.
This support and the religious understanding of the patient may just be the “water that washed the basket clean.”