Does spiritual health affect physical healing?
A chaplain had told me that the hospital she served expected her to visit every patient frequently, for statistics showed that patients visited by a chaplain at least three times were discharged sooner.
Similarly the ritual of anointing that I carry in my pocket links spiritual care with physical health saying: “Spirit of the Living God, present with us now, enter into … in body, mind and spirit, forgive her/his sins, and heal her/him from all that harms her/him.”
Spiritual healing might not kill viruses nor bacteria; it might not mend broken bones nor close a nasty cut; it might not directly affect any of the multitude of diseases and illnesses that modern medicine can cure or at least name. But guilt and shame can burden more than a person’s soul, feelings of unmitigated remorse do cause real illnesses.
Conversely, feelings of joy and acceptance can and do improve one’s physical well-being. People who attend worship regularly live longer, happier, and healthier lives. The placebo effect, merely telling someone that a treatment will help, does make a physical difference.
Perhaps this is why the Greek word meaning “to save” is also used as “to heal.”
[Jesus] said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you;
go in peace and be healed of your disease.”
— Mark 5:31
I will have more to say about this passage on Sunday, June 28th, 2015.
See also: Naming Demons