Editor’s note: This article is for information purposes only, and does not constitute medical advice. As always, do your own research and talk to a qualified medical professional prior to making any health decisions.
Preface: I am a Christian who is struggling to live as the Bible instructs us. I am not a Biblical scholar and am nowhere near perfect by any stretch of the imagination. None of us are. The following is my opinion of how things are inter-connected.
Our soul, defined by the Oxford Language Dictionary, is “the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal.” My theory of how this works is that at the point of conception, our souls are placed by God in our cells from the beginning of life.
The soul is first, then the brain and nervous system and then the mind. The mind is the process of thought with the use of memory, recognition, etc. The consensus of most is that the mind resides in your brain since it appears to be the central processor for all of the functions of the body. Graphically, I think it looks something like this:
The only part which remains after we die is our soul, as you can see. My opinion is that the soul is most important in that it is there at the beginning and the end of our lives. It is the thing we can keep. This is important because it represents in us the Alpha and the Omega of the eternity which God promises.
Our physical and mental health are definitely able to influence each other. The mind/brain can positively or negatively affect the body and vice versa. The mind or brain can also shape the direction our souls take, either towards salvation or condemnation.
This has profound effects on our physical health. Many emotional states have significant positive and negative effects on our physical health. Likewise, the positive and negative states of our physical health have similar effects on our mind and soul. With all the possible variables in these inter-connected systems, it is difficult to discern which signals have the final effect.
Through the different connections and interactions, I think our physical and mental health influence and directly affect the direction of our soul. For example, it is very common for some people with severe physical or mental problems to experience loss of hope and lose the will to live, while others in similar situations have peace and acceptance while retaining hope until the very end.
The latter group, in my opinion, is differentiated by their faith. Hope is increased with faith. Improved physical health is not assured with faith because your body and mind are still susceptible to the other factors noted above. Faith can help lessen the negative effects of the environmental (physical and non-physical) influences on the body, mind and soul.
There are many ways to lessen the negative effects on your physical and mental health, such as lifestyle changes, supplements, exercise, meditation and prayer. We spend quite a bit of time and effort trying to improve our physical and mental health, which helps to reduce the negative feedback affecting your soul.
Some people, through prayer, help improve the positive effects on their souls through their faith. Prayers don’t seem, to us, to be the answer to all of our problems. But I know that they help me draw closer to God, which does help reduce all kinds of stress. This lowers the negative effects of stress and improves the functions of our physical and mental health.
I believe our souls are entrusted to us by God. We are to protect and nurture our souls because they leave with us and do not want us to let them be corrupted.
My feeling is that our souls are the source of all the good qualities that God favors. Kindness, goodness, love, compassion, faithfulness, forgiveness, and mercy are these good qualities that God wants us to exhibit. When we don’t pay attention and get wrapped up in worldly needs, cares, and struggles, this allows our souls to be corrupted. In the end, this may separate us from God and our eternity in Heaven.
Physical and mental health are very important and the healthier we become, the easier we can choose to use that to protect our souls. Or we can begin to think that we don’t need God. Focusing on the world and our current situations distracts us from the grand gift: eternity in Heaven. I feel that it is extremely easy to get consumed with our lives and struggles when we need to refocus our attention on being more faithful, which positively affects all aspects of our lives.
This does not mean that if we are more faithful, all of our struggles and trials will go away. It sounds like I just contradicted myself, but I really didn’t. If we are not faithful, bad things can and will happen in our lives. If we are faithful, bad things can and will happen in our lives. The difference is that if we are unfaithful, the bad things are more difficult to cope with here and we move further away from God, potentially losing our opportunity to be in Heaven for eternity. Conversely, if we are more faithful, then the way we handle the bad things will be somewhat easier and we will draw closer to God, ensuring our eternity in Heaven.
When we are faithful, one special problem comes up that Satan exploits. This is persecution for our faithfulness. Satan uses this to attempt to prevent us from being faithful to God, as his primary purpose is to separate us from God. I think there are multiple bad things in our lives that just happen and others are from Satan in order to test our faith.
Then why make the effort? It is much simpler to not worry about faith and just deal with life’s troubles on your own. Do whatever you want. Except I don’t believe you can fulfill God’s desires for us by acting that way. His desire is for us to be content, loving, kind, and all of the other good measures of our life on earth. The main concern of God is that we follow Him and we spend eternity with Him in Heaven. The effort to follow God is not easy, but the reward is too big to measure. Eternity is a very long time!
To summarize my rambling thoughts, our health is directly affected by numerous things. Our faithfulness definitely has positive effects on our health and well-being. Our souls are the most important gift entrusted to us by God. It is our obligation to take care of our souls to insure that we end up with God in Heaven for eternity.
If you are a Christian, make sure you have a church home that speaks the truth, supports you in your struggles, and helps you find The Way in this crazy world. If you are not a Christian, you need to find the church home described above and have them help you learn about the steps to salvation. Our lives are meaningless if we don’t believe in Heaven and Hell and good and evil.
My biased plug is my church, Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond, Oklahoma, which is a great example of a church home. If you are looking for a church home, or perhaps you are trying to learn about God and how to become a Christian, reach out to me and I will help you with your spiritual health, just like I help people with their physical health.
– Dr. David Jayne, M.D.