Want to feel happy? Isn’t this the elusive goal that every human being is chasing after? But, what if you would find happiness where you don’t expect it? Would you try finding it in the unlikely place?
Strangely, research confirms that people find mental well-being aka happiness when they are repentant. When people lead a repentant lifestyle where they “embrace accountability to God” they experience higher levels of psychological well-being according to a study from Baylor University, Westmont College and Hope College.
This happiness didn’t emerge from conforming some social norms of a religious group, known in scripture as keeping the Law. Rather, what researchers call theistic accountability, believers welcome accountability to God seeking to discern God’s will and wisdom in order to be faithful and better understand their purpose in life. Theistic accountability is an academic sociology term for what you and I know as repentance to God.
Sadly, most people in our society don’t look to the One who is the source of Joy to find happiness.
“Why should we expect perceptions of accountability to God to be associated with well-being?” Professor Matt Bradshaw said, “It’s because humans are social creatures and our psychological health is bound up in positive and constructive relationships, not only with other people, but also with God.”
Rather than rebelling against God, people who are happy see themselves as answerable to God. They embrace the responsibilities that come with their faith and view being accountable to God as a blessing that leads them to meaningful and successful lives.
Who would have thought that telling your offenses to God would lead to life, to joy?
The LORD who designed you said this would be good for your psychological well-being. “If you repent, I will restore you that you may come before me” (Jeremiah 15:19)
The LORD repeatedly tells us to turn from sin to find gratifying life. “For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!” (Ezekiel 18:32 see also 2 Peter 3:9)
Jesus Christ began his ministry by telling us, “Repent and believe the Good News.” (Mark 1:15)
Coming before our Holy and Righteous God to unload our sins is good for your happiness. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9)
Faith practices of worship attendance, prayer and mediating on scripture are all shown to foster psychological well-being. People who pray more often foster a relationship in communication with God that reinforced accountability. Active participation in the life of a repentant community of faith heals people. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)
Come receive the renewal and restoration promised to boost your wellbeing. Call on God’s promises like the King David: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (Psalm 51:10, 12)
May the unfailing love of the LORD rest upon you as you put your hope in Him. (Psalm 33:22)
Your brother in Christ, Pastor Douglas