Engaging The Bible Helps People Become More Hopeful And Forgiving Despite Hardships, Study Finds

The American Bible Society's
The American Bible Society, via its Armed Services Ministry, has launched the new "Hero Squad" program to help families with members in the military cope during the Christmas season. |

Those who turn to Scripture the most often are more hopeful and forgiving even when faced with difficulties, according to the American Bible Society's 2021 State of the Bible survey.

The findings based on data gathered between January 4 and January 29 were presented in the third chapter of the State of the Bible 2021, titled "Hope for the Hurting."

The research examines how people turn to the Bible for comfort when they are stressed, as well as how Scripture may assist suffering people comprehend and deal with their inner traumas.

Using a Hope Agency scale with a range of 3-24 points, the researchers were able to determine "person's confidence that they are able to move themselves forward toward their goals, imagining a preferred future and acting to realize that vision."

According to the ABS' statistics, individuals who were categorized as "Scripture engaged," or those who put a greater focus on Scripture than the general population, had the highest levels of hope, scoring 18 on the Hope Agency scale.

Hopeful amid stressful circumstances

These hopeful adults also reported average stress levels, scoring 13 on a scale of 0-40, as opposed to 14 for all adults, 12 for those who defined themselves as "Bible disengaged," and 15 for those who fell somewhere in between the two categories, referred to as a "movable middle."

Notwithstanding, although Scripture Engaged individuals have stress levels that are comparable to the general population, they have a high degree of hope, as per the study. According to the researchers, "The higher levels of hope give clues to how the Bible may help them engage with stress and look toward the future with expectancy."

With the exception of the Scripture engaged, other groups including the Bible disengaged, and the Movable Middle, reported the same hope index of 15.

Americans who engage with Scripture reported the most severe impacts of trauma, with many describing themselves as having suffered trauma at some time in their lives that continues to affect them now.

On that topic, the National Council for Mental Wellbeing reports that "70 percent of adults in the U.S. have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives." By the age of sixteen, "more than two thirds of children reported at least one traumatic event," according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Despite those sad stats, the ABS study asserted that "a strong relationship with the Bible often coexists with - and could even be compelled by - the hardships of life. Being rooted in the Bible does not preclude tough circumstances but may provide respite and hope in spite of them."

Scripture involvement was shown to be a reliable predictor of a person's capacity to forgive, despite the presence of long-term trauma in their lives.

"Scripture engagement is significantly related to evidence of forgiveness," ABS affirmed. "The more Scripture Engaged someone is, the more likely they are able to forgive others."

Earlier this year, the American Bible Society launched a website that provides information for people and groups seeking biblical assistance for emotional difficulties, which they refer to as "heart wounds." Those seeking for support or those who believe they can be of help may visit hope.americanbible.org . Resources available were tailored to meet various needs.