What the Heart Believes
Numerous clinical studies have shown a strong brain-body connection, indicating that what our brains think can significantly impact our health. A few years ago, an experiment was conducted in which professional actors spent a day working on one of two scenes—either an upbeat one or a depressing one. At the end of the day, researchers measured the actors’ immune responsiveness. Guess what? Actors who spent the day working on the uplifting scene showed increased immune responsiveness, while actors assigned to the sad scene showed decreased responsiveness.1
It strikes me that faith has a similar power to influence our spiritual health. By making the comparison, I am not implying that faith is merely a matter of positive thinking. It’s not. Faith is a divine gift that enables us to perceive the truth and respond accordingly. It gives meaning and purpose to the universe and our place in it. As Paul says, those who belong to Christ walk by faith and not by sight. It is faith that enables us to take hold of the truest and most important story in the world—the one that God is telling. Faith puts us smack-dab in the middle of the narrative because we are part of Christ’s body and the story of salvation is still unfolding.
Of course, the life of faith has its share of anguish and difficulty. Exercising our faith does not always feel uplifting. But ultimately, faith is what fuels our hope and enables us to perceive what God is doing in the world. It is also what gives meaning to our struggles and confers value on our obedience. In the end, what our hearts believe is what will most significantly impact our sense of God’s peace.
(1) Robert M. Sapolsky, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers (New York: Henry Holt, 2004), 144.