None of us are shielded from unexpected events that rattle our lives like an erupting volcano or a major earthquake. The strongest among us can be brought to our knees when faced with certain life events or painful losses-the loss of a child, the loss of a home, the loss of a job or a business, the loss of a spouse due to death or divorce. All of us will eventually face one or more of these events or know of some who have and can bear witness to the long term damaging effects it can have on an individual’s attitude, their outlook on the future and their quality of life. And all of us who have already been visited by any of these can attest to the resulting sense of hopelessness and isolation.
Besides the obvious impact these losses or changes can have on the emotional or mental health of a person, these events can also alter the physical health as well. In 1967 two psychiatrists, Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe examined the medical records of more than 5000 patients to see if there was any correlation between some life events and eventual major illness. Their findings have been confirmed by subsequent independent studies and the results are the same, and not at all surprising. Based on their data they developed the famous Holmes and Rahe Scale, used to determine the chances of a person suffering major illnesses in the future. Each event was given a numerical value in line with the severity of the event. Here is what the scale looks like with events and numeric values listed:
When you begin to take inventory and add up the numbers, especially if you are older, the results can be scary in light of the rating scale based on your score. The things that happen in our lives have a measurable impact on our mental and physical health-there is simply no disputing this.
But before you add up your score and head for your garage to start the car and close the garage door, take heart-there is a disclaimer! These studies are based on the normal conditions and responses of the normal person. There is no allowance or consideration given for the person who has overcome or survived these events due to the hope they have through their faith in Christ. Upon our conversion we are promised that we become “new” creatures, that is with clean slates, having all old things and events “pass away”. That is certainly not to say we don’t suffer the same pain or agony when faced with any of these major life-changing events-we do, believe me. However it is to say that we have the promise and the assurance, the Hope that even though we walk through these dark places (not over or around as some suggest) that God is with us to provide comfort and courage and strength to endure. We may not sense His presence during these trials in life but we rely on the knowledge through the Holy Spirit that His word is true and that He is faithful and completely incapable of breaking His promise or His covenant with us when we need Him the most. The great disclaimer to the Holmes Rahe Scale is Christ. He is or can be the great equalizer to those with high risk factors and scale totals-He is the unaccounted for variant in the numeric scale. You may score high, but Christ…
Holy Scriptures are alive with resounding promises of hope, too many to list.
You may have lost a loved one but you can “lie down and sleep and wake again because the Lord sustains you”. You may have lost a job or a business but “you have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging for food”. You may feel abandoned or that God has overlooked you, but in your heart you remember “Has he said and will He not do it or has He spoken and will not fulfill it?” You may have lost the person closest to you but you can hold fast to the words “Fear not, I’m with you; don’t be dismayed for I’m your God and will strengthen you and hold you steady with my righteous right hand.”
Some of us have faced the events measured on this scale more than once. In fact if not for the disclaimer mentioned some of us may not have lived to tell about it. But hope is like a skin graft that offers immediate healing and comfort and eventually manifests itself in new growth so that hardly a scar remains. And by the way, these aren’t just shallow words but first hand testimony that is continuing to be rewritten. I added up my scores, assuming just one time per episode although I have faced several of these events more than once. My score….931! But Christ.