by Don Ingwerson
Have you ever heard the statement, “There are no atheists in a foxhole?” I recently came across this statement and it really brought to mind the idea that although most of us aren’t actually hunkered down in a literal foxhole, but figuratively many of us feel that we are as we fight for health and harmony in our lives. It can actually feel like a combat zone for anyone who has serious emotional stress, addiction, health condition, or other crises. And in these situations, people are more inclined to seek a higher power for help.
What this means to me is that people are not actually accepting the inharmony in their lives, but instead are claiming their right to freedom by turning to God. Early spiritual leader and health researcher Mary Baker Eddy helped many understand their spiritual nature and right to experience physical and mental harmony, and in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she encourages people to: “Realize the presence of health and the fact of harmonious being, until the body corresponds with the normal conditions of health and harmony.”
Not only are people realizing their spiritual communion to God is linked to harmonious being, but doctors are also realizing that this spiritual relationship is important to their patients’ well-being. Judy Ann Bigby, M.D. reports that she asks her patients if they have any spiritual relationships and how these relationships might aid them in working through their health challenges. But she also encourages patients who have a spiritual relationship to cultivate that relationship at all times, not just when they are having a health challenge. In this way, well-being is encouraged. “Being healthy is not just the absence of illness,” says Dr. Bigby. “For many people, being at peace and having a spiritual connection affects their overall well-being and feelings about their health.”
This realization by many that a connection to a higher power is health-giving is also now being backed by studies, which show that religious commitment, including worship attendance and prayer, is valuable to an individual’s welfare. Specifically, spiritual or religious practice has been shown to enhance prevention and treatment of mental disorders and addictions, reduce pain and disability, and prolong survival. In addition, spiritual treatment has been shown to enhance recovery.
Regardless, many people believe that the condition of their spirit affects their well-being and health. People know the importance a loving act can have on another’s spirit – and on their own spirit. That’s why cultivation of the spiritual is being promoted and accepted. As people realize the presence of health from a spiritual perspective, as Eddy encouraged, they will start seeing a richer, fuller, harmonious life outside of that perceived entrenchment.