Why would a doctor ask about spiritual practices? (Part 5 of 5)

Guest blogger, Laurie A. Tone LMFT, LPC, MHSP, served six years as Siloam Family Health Center’s behavioral health consultant. Today, she continues a five-part series of blogs on the body-mind-spirit connectedness.

Laurie writes…

Welcome back to the series exploring the connection between spirituality and health. We know through research that spiritualityBible - Stethoscope - Siloam Coffee and health share a definitive connection. We can even extrapolate that in Sam’s case (see blog in part 2 of this series) that his guilt, pain, insomnia, and depression are all interconnected. But what does biblical scripture say about this? Are there any references in scripture about the connection between spirituality and health?

While scripture was never intended to be a medical manual, it has some pretty clear references to the connection between spirituality and health. The Creator God has provided through His Word some key principles about His creation and healthful living. While references from scripture should be considered in context, let’s look at the following verses in light of our patient Sam who is suffering from guilt, depression, insomnia and bone pain.

Psalm 32:3 “When I kept silent [about sin] my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.” Psalm 32:5 continues, “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my sin to the Lord’ and you forgave me the guilt of my sin.”

Psalm 6:2 “Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am faint; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are in agony.”

Proverbs 17:22 “A cheerful heart is good medicine but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Proverbs 3 also tells us that following the Lord fully will bring health to the body and nourishment to the bones, sweet sleep, prolong life and bring prosperity.

Scripture shares a multitude of references about the connection between spirituality and health and adds to our understanding of the complexity of our integrated beings.

The connection between spirituality and health raises some practical questions regarding patient care. If you were the medical provider for Sam what would you do? Would you prescribe an antidepressant or pain medication? Would you refer him to a religious or mental health provider? Would you even address the underlying guilt as a possible precipitating factor?

While there are no easy answers, patients like Sam make us consider the need for whole-person care.  Healing and wholeness can occur in the various and sundry realms of our being – physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually. In fact, in the New Testament’s list of spiritual gifts, healing is in the plural form -“gifts” of healing (1 Co. 12:4-11).

Although this is the last of this particular series the topic remains on the forefront of the ministry at Siloam Family Health Center and the Institute of Faith, Health and Culture. Patients, like Sam, are a regular occurrence at the clinic and systems are in place through medical providers, pastoral care, social workers and behavioral health consultants to address the myriad of needs patients present.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and stay tuned for future blogs exploring the biopsychosocial-spiritual connection.

All scripture quoted from the NIV.

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