With the ongoing pandemic, many people have been battling mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, stress, bitterness, and unforgiveness.
Doctors say emotional health is directly tied to physical health; however, new research shows people can dramatically improve their overall well-being by reading scripture.
John Plake from the American Bible Society discussed findings from a recent study, revealing that deeper engagement with the Bible can have a positive effect on people.
"In the midst of a pandemic and this sort of once in a century disruption we've been experiencing in America, we were interested to know, how does the Bible help people? We were extremely heartened to realize that in the midst of languishing and the struggle that the nation's been in, people who are deeply connected to the Bible and to Christian community are remarkably resilient," Plake told CBN's Healthy Living.
Plake said it's clear that stress levels have increased as a result of COVID-19, and that extra stress hasn't ended.
"Stress levels are extremely high. Every indicator of stress that we looked at, and there are 10 of them in the study, was up when the pandemic was really starting to take hold and people's lives were being disrupted," he explained. "Stress hasn't gone down, it's actually up. We saw that 48 percent of Americans say they've experienced a significant, traumatic event in lives."
Yet, research shows that people who are connected with a strong Christian community and deeply involved with God's Word were more apt to overcome certain challenges.
"What we discovered was if people were scripture-engaged, meaning more than just putting in time to read the Bible, but a consistent interaction with the Bible that begins to shape people's choices and transforms their relationships with God, with themselves and others," Plake said. "When deeply engaged with scripture and allowing it to touch their hearts, we see significantly decreased levels of stress."
"We see increased levels of hope. Some of the highest levels of hope for the future are among people who are closest to the Bible. Then lastly we see among people who have been traumatized that people who are scripture-engaged are more likely to forgive those who might have hurt them. Even if those people didn't ask for forgiveness."
Plake said the bright spot in 2020 and 2021 is that the American Bible Society recorded a substantial rise in Bible users.
"We saw an increase on the order of 12 million people who are now using the Bible at least occasionally that weren't before. We went from about 169 million people who use the Bible at least occasionally to 181 million people that were recorded in January of 2021. That's really good news."
Consistent time with God's Word and the importance of going to church were also examined during the study.
Plake noted that involvement in church and the faith community can provide answers for those who are hurting.
"In this time when people are struggling with grief, displacement, disappointment ... their hopes have been dashed in many ways for many people across America, I think it's an opportunity for the church to say there's a bigger picture here. There's a bigger story here and there's a community of people who love you," he explained.
"The church provides that community of people who love you, the Bible provides the bigger story. The Bible is the story of how God is at work in the midst of our struggles to overcome those struggles and bring about a preferred future and the hopes that we all have for a better life."
You can see more stories like this by watching Healthy Living with Lorie Johnson on the CBN News channel.