The Forgiveness-Health Connection

A mother and her adult daughter, dist

antly related to me, had a falling out in 1999. The mother passed away in 2013 without the two of them speaking to each other in the intervening 14 years. And worth noting is both the mother’s and daughter’s health deteriorated.

Proverbs 17:22 tells us that a cheerful heart is good medicine. Norman Cousins lent credence to that statement in a book he wrote about his battle with cancer. He literally laughed himself to health watching old Three Stooges movies and Charlie Chaplin films.

So, here’s the question – with a cheerful heart being good medicine, what does this say about a bitter heart?

A documentary on the Holocaust comes to mind. Focusing on a leader of the Warsaw ghetto uprising talking about the bitterness that remains in his soul tow-

ards the Nazis, it shows him saying, "If you could lick my heart, it would poison you."

His expressed sentiment is not necessarily a figure of speech. In fact, it lines up with something researchers have discovered. Thanks to studies sponsored by such orga-

nizations as the John Templeton Foundation, research shows, as one scholar put it, that to forgive "not only heig-

htens the potential for reconciliation but also releases the victim from prolonged anger, rage and stress that have been linked to physiological problems such as cardio-

vascular diseases, high blood pressure, cancer and other psychosomatic illnesses."

"Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who’ve sinned against us," we pray. It’s not only in the interest of our spiritual health that we utter this prayer in its totality and mean it. Coming from the great physician himself, it’s in the interest of our emotional and physical health, too.

Warner F. Davis a retired Presbyterian pastor Warner has released a spiritual memoir titled, "Peace in a Mad Dog World: Finding Security When My Need For Control had Failed Me," through Virtual bookworm Publishing. For more information about his book, visit


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