Religion Is Like a Compass
Recent medical research has proved beyond doubt that religious beliefs and practices have immense inﬂuence on our health. They help us stay healthy and recover quickly when we are anxious, stressed, depressed, or experiencing serious mental illness. To be effective and healing, they need to be inspired by a holistic view of life,
Religion is like a compass. At times, life is quite difﬁcult. We seem to grope in the dark. Resorting to religion may not necessarily make us feel better at once, but it gives needed direction. It moderates stress by assisting both the guide and the seeker to interpret life in a helpful way.
Religion can help integrate the spiritual realities of life with the negative experiences of life. This process of acceptance, of reinterpretation and of integration reduces the power of stress considerably. The words of Jesus on taking up one’s cross and on self-denial can encourage the seeker to look at sufferings as opportunities for human and spiritual maturity, thus highlighting the concept of the Paschal mystery as enabling the seeker to accept and face death.
Furthermore, religion imparts a sense of perennial hope. It points to life after death. It provides hope by way of helpful tenets such as:
1. We are created by and belong to God and to a community that believes in God.
2. We can depend upon God, the Compassionate One and his mercy.
3. We may feel that there is not much hope in our present situation. Yet not everything is lost. God is the loving and forgiving Father and, as such, cares for his erring children.
Religion provides an important tool for self-help and for guidance: prayer. Prayer and meditation can enable us to cope better with any difficult situation we face. Prayer comes from the belief that God listens and answers our prayers. And this in turn gives hope and optimism that further enhance our ability to handle life’s crises.