One of themes of this edition of The Alabama Baptist is Aging Well.
As a septuagenarian, I can relate to the topic. At a certain point in our journey it becomes more about quality of life than quantity. We all want more days, but we want days without pain, without stress and concern about things like sickness, mental function, mobility and finances.
We can’t help but notice our bodies are changing, becoming more vulnerable. Remember when you had to actually DO something to risk injury? Like trying to play basketball or tennis, or start jogging after being away from it for years? Well, these days I’m liable to pop something in my back or shoulder without even trying, just by doing things such as sitting up in bed or climbing stairs or reaching to get something out of a high cabinet or lifting a heavy garbage bag.
My wife Sharon and I are always joking about our “ache of the day.” Seems like something always hurts. There’s an old saying that growing old is not for the faint of heart — you’d better have a good attitude, a healthy perspective and a sense of humor about aging.
You know what really helps? Going to church. No joke, it does make a difference. Several studies have been done to back this up, not by religious organizations but by folks like the American Medical Association. They have found that regular churchgoers live longer and better. The Word of God and the promises of salvation bring people peace and hope.
But just being in the Christian church environment has its own rewards. A network of social support, optimistic attitudes, better role models and a sense of purpose in life may account for the long-life benefits seen in many studies.
Power of prayer
Then there is just the good ol’ power of prayer. Doctors have observed that, when people are praying, it triggers a relaxation response, a state of mind/body rest that has been shown to decrease stress, heart rate and blood pressure. It may go so far as to alleviate chronic disease symptoms. It’s the kind of effect many search for when they get involved in practices such as meditation and yoga, but research suggests it also can be found through praying.
These revelations shouldn’t surprise anyone. Why else would God often be described as the Great Physician?