Does belief in God really help us survive tough times?
Millions of believers around the world say yes. And so does research out of Notre Dame and Ohio State University, which examined the role of faith in overcoming life’s hardships. The study drew a strong correlation between a lack of religious faith and what is known as “death by despair” – death caused by suicide or by drug or alcohol overdose. Researchers found that people who claim no religious faith are much more likely to seek an escape from life’s hardships through unhealthy means, sometimes tragically so.
It’s disheartening, but not entirely surprising, that people who don’t believe in God would try to fill their emptiness with drug and alcohol abuse – or to end their struggle altogether through suicide. After all, if there is no greater reality beyond our present suffering, what reason do any of us have for pushing forward? Why shouldn’t we numb our pain when life gets difficult?
The answer is that there is reason for hope. Hope is what faith is all about. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). It’s because we place our trust in Someone greater than ourselves that we feel anchored through the storms of this life – and have hope for something even greater in the next.
If you’re struggling to find meaning and purpose and would like to talk to someone, give our counselors here at Focus on the Family a call. The number is 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459). You may also be interested in a free online booklet we’ve written called, “Coming Home: An Invitation to Join God’s Family,” which explains what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.