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Believers vs. Nonbelievers

PrayerReallyChangeThingsI recently read an article on the Internet that discussed a recent study that was performed by McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts.  The study found that belief in God can help treat depression.

Over the course of a year, researchers followed 159 patients who were involved in the Behavioral Health Partial Hospital Program.  Participants were asked to rate on a five-point scale their belief in God and their expectations for treatment.

Levels of depression, well-being, and self-harm were measured at the beginning and end of the program, and researchers found that the patients who had disclosed that they had either “no” or only “slight” belief in God were twice as likely not to respond to treatment as the patients who had expressed higher levels of belief.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, states, “Our work suggests that people with a moderate to high level of belief in a higher power do significantly better in short-term psychiatric treatment than those without, regardless of their affiliation.”

For those of us who believe in God, the results of the study are no surprise.  Not only do we benefit from the healing grace we receive when we pray for assistance, we also benefit from the trust and confidence we have in God that He will assist us in our treatment and recovery.

I read through the comments that were posted under the article, and here’s a sampling of what some of the nonbelievers said:

•    Replacing one mental illness with another is not a cure.

•    Believing in Santa can bring you toys.  Prayer is just another letter to Santa by another name.

•    It’s good that believers can be saved from their depression.  What do they take for their delusion?

•    What rubbish!  All it does is misguide the person who is depressed.

•    Hmm… Curing mental illness with insanity…

•    Seriously, folks.  It’s the 21st century.  The man in the sky doesn’t exist!

•    Comfort blanket, but it works.  The whole idea is preposterous, but if it gives comfort to people without impeding the lives of nonbelievers, then I say let well enough alone.

Here’s what a few believers had to say about the article:

•    If you went into a town/city and saw shops, houses, cars, etc., but NO people, an intelligent person would realize people have been here or made all of this…  So when we look at the stars, moon, sun, earth, mountains, fruit, vegetables, trees, people, animals, etc., and how the world is running so excellently, an intelligent person would have to think someone has made all of this — that being is a GOD!

•    I was a total nonbeliever for 40 years.  God never entered my mind.  My life was more bad than good in retrospect, but I was successful and felt I had it all… until my wife hung herself in our garage.  That put me on the road to my own self-hell with depression, anxiety, anger, guilt, shame, and no will to live.  By luck (or by the grace of God), I met someone who actually cared about me, and he was a Christian.  He was my gateway to God.  The change was without a doubt miraculous.  Not to say some days aren’t a struggle and life is a breeze, but there is freedom and hope and comfort.  Something six years of therapy and pills could never do.

•    In the materialistic age, it is difficult to realize that we are actually spiritual beings undergoing a physical experience and not merely animals with no sense of our true identity.

•    Almost every 12-step program requires you believe in a “higher power” to be successful. This has proven results.

Take a close look at the comments that criticize those of us who believe in God.  Because the people who made the comments had nothing of substance to say, they attacked us by calling us names.  They claimed that we lack the mental capacity to think or act on our own.  They accused us of being mentally ill, delusional, and insane.  They claimed that we equate God with Santa, and ridiculed us for using Him as a “comfort blanket.”  They implied that we are stupid, and that we’re still living in the last century.

There was a time when I argued with people who attacked my religious beliefs with their meaningless name-calling and outrageous comments, but I no longer even bother to give them the time of day.  The 20 or 30 minutes I would ordinarily waste arguing with them would be better spent praying for them.

Most of the time, when it comes to matters of faith, we cannot win people over with arguments.  The most effective way we can influence them is through our prayers and our own example.  That’s why it’s so important that we focus on praying for them and showing them by our words and actions how a true disciple of Christ lives.

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2 Responses to “Believers vs. Nonbelievers”

  1. Sister Roberta Houlihan, CSJ Says:

    Dear Harry and Georgette –
    It was enlightening to me to read all the NEGATIVE responses to the study. Makes me wish we, who have the GIFT OF FAITH, could have some time with each one to learn what background he/she has, and pray with/for each to be filled [“struck”, as Saul was], by the Holy Spirit. Faith is a true GIFT for which we will be ever grateful !!!
    Thank you, Harry! Blessings – Sister Roberta

  2. Rich Flavin Says:

    Amen brother. I have a part-time job where I spend most of the day on the phone. An office mate (who sits next to me)will answer each call by saying.”Hello this xxxxxx, how may I help you”.Then the usually pleasantries take place and the customer usually asks him how he is. His response is always,” I am Blessed”. I ask him what happens after he says that. He smiles and says, “you never know where the conversation will lead to after that”. The gentleman on the other side of me answers the same question by saying, “I’m leaving the dream”. I’m very fortunate to have these two remind me daily of who’s really in charge of our lives. I am also fortunate to have found my first perpetual adoration letter at Sunday evening Mass at St. Philomenia. Harry, you say what needs to be said. Keep it up.

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