My Answer: Can optimism cure what ails us?

Q: My aunt believes that if you just have a sunny outlook on life, you'll be healthy and almost never get sick. It seems to work for her, but is she just kidding herself? I have a hard time being optimistic with all the problems I have. — J.N.

A: Modern medicine has confirmed something the Bible said long ago: Our minds and our bodies are closely connected, and what affects one often affects the other. The Bible says, "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones" (Proverbs 17:22).

This makes me think of King David and what happened to him after he did something that was terribly wrong. As a young man, he was faithful to God and sought to do what was right. But as the years passed, he went through what we today might call a midlife crisis, ignoring his responsibilities and losing sight of God's moral standards.

He ended up committing adultery, then tried to cover it up by ordering the death of the woman's husband. But guilt ate away at his soul — and also at his body. Only after he confessed his sin and sought God's forgiveness was his burden lifted.

Later, he wrote, "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long" (Psalm 32:3).

Having an optimistic attitude certainly may help us stay healthy (although sickness and disease can still strike). But how can we stay optimistic, particularly when life's problems press down upon us?

The key is to turn our problems — and our lives — over to Jesus Christ. When we know him, we no longer carry our burdens alone. The Bible's promise is true: "Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you" (Psalm 55:22).


Q: Our daughter's husband walked out on her and it's really been hard, especially since she has two small children and has to work. We'd like to help somehow, but we've not had the best of relationships with our daughter (especially since we urged her not to marry this man), and we don't know what to do. Any suggestions? — Mrs. K.W.W.

A: Almost nothing is harder than being a single parent, and my heart goes out to your daughter and to all who find themselves in this situation. I hope churches will do more to reach out and welcome those who are single parents (both men and women).

It's not only hard physically and financially for your daughter, but emotionally as well, since she faces the trauma of divorce. All too often today, we think divorce is a quick and easy solution to a difficult marriage, but it seldom is. The feelings of hurt, rejection and bitterness that often accompany divorce create wounds that may take years to heal — if ever.

No wonder God has said, "'The man who hates and divorces his wife ... does violence to the one he should protect.' ... So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful" (Malachi 2:16).

What can you do? Frankly, it may be difficult to bridge the gap between you and your daughter because of what you once did; perhaps others will learn from your experience. Do all you can, however, to let your daughter know you love her and want to help her. Don't bring up the past because you can't change it, and dredging up what you see as your daughter's mistakes will only cause more hurt.

In addition, suggest some practical ways you might help her — keeping the children occasionally, doing her laundry, taking her a meal. Pray for her, also, that she will turn to Christ and learn to give her burdens and cares to him.

(Send your queries to "My Answer," c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM; or visit

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