Forgiveness and our Health

As I've been thinking about forgiveness I've realized that I don't need to necessarily tell my daughter she has to forgive a certain person.  I just need to help her to let go and work through her anger and her hurt.  I need to help her not hold on to bitterness or rage.  I need to allow her to process and continually work through things, daily if need be. 

While I've been reading up on forgiveness I thought I'd find out what doctors and counselors say about it.  I was surprised that even in the medical field forgiveness is talked about.  According to Mayo Clinic web site forgiveness leads to improved health, lower blood pressure, stronger immune systems, less anxiety and improved mental health.  I find it amazing that science has found these benefits from the act of letting go of bitterness and grudges. 

I think of Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine but a crushed spirit dries the bones.  The New Living Translation says A cheerful heart is good medicine but a broken spirit saps a persons strength.  If we live in a state of bitterness we most definitely do not have a cheerful heart and it will sap our strength.  It will wear us down and can literally effect our immune system.  What the Bible said thousands of years ago doctors are proving to be true today. 

I also looked at John Hopkins University and found a quote there by a doctor named Karen Swartz.  She said, "Chronic anger puts you into a fight-or-flight mode, which results in numerous changes in heart rate, blood pressure and immune response. Those changes, then, increase the risk of depression, heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions. Forgiveness, however, calms stress levels, leading to improved health."

I found out there are actually many diseases and disorders that cause our bones to dry out or our bone marrow to dry up.  Many of them stem from poor immune system.  Makes me wonder how many of the people that suffer from those disorders also suffer from a broken spirit or bitterness. I have not found any statistic on that.  I do know however that forgiveness leads to improved health not just physically but spiritually. 

So here's my prayer for us, my family and yours.  "God help us to daily give to you the things we should not carry ourselves.  Past hurts, disappointments and trauma.  Free us from those memories and the emotional pain that goes with them.  Help us to move forward and not hold on to any form of bitterness.  Allow us to forgive others and forgive ourselves when needed.   Lead us daily LORD in your paths and allow us to have a cheerful heart that honors you. Restore our souls and renew our spirits that they would not be crushed or broken but held together by your love and your grace.  I pray we would not experience dry bones or sapped strength but renewed energy to run and not grow weary in all you call us to do. Amen."


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