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State of the Bible: Trauma survivors flourish by Scripture engagement

PHILADELPHIA (BP) – Trauma survivors who regularly engage in Scripture flourish more than survivors who are biblically disengaged, the American Bible Society said in its latest revelations from the 2022 State of the Bible report.

While a third of study participants have personally experienced trauma in their lifetime, those characterized as “Scripture engaged” scored higher on a 10-point scale that measured flourishing in six areas.

“For all the damage done by trauma, there is restoration and healing to be found as people interact regularly with God by reading His Word and living it out,” the ABS said in the report’s third chapter released June 9. “That’s what these numbers show us. There is life beyond trauma. That’s the message of the Bible.”

Scripture-engaged respondents scored 19 percent higher than Bible-disengaged respondents on the six-domain human flourishing index measuring happiness and life satisfaction, mental and physical health, meaning and purpose, character and virtue, close social relationships, and financial and material stability.

Scripture-engaged trauma survivors scored 8.1 on the 10-point human flourishing scale, compared to a 6.9 score for the Bible disengaged, the ABS said, with the largest advantage seen in the area of meaning and purpose.

“The first Psalm describes the life of a person who finds delight in the teachings of Scripture, meditating on the Scriptures day and night,” the report reads. “‘That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers (Psalm 1:2–3 NIV).’

“For centuries, Christian leaders have been challenging people to claim this as a promise. Engagement with God’s Word leads to a better life—fruitful, prosperous, flourishing. The findings of State of the Bible 2022 support that.”

When Bible engagement is not considered, trauma survivors in the general population fare lower in human flourishing, ranking 6.5 in happiness and life satisfaction, for example, compared to 7.2 among the general population.

ABS defines trauma as “extreme violence, abuse, or a near-death experience that produces a response of intense fear, helplessness and horror.” A third of respondents in the study had experienced trauma in their lifetimes.

The report’s third chapter, “Better Living Through Bible Reading,” also reveals findings of how Bible engagement impacts human flourishing among the general population, asserting that Scripture-engaged people ranked higher in five of the six domains. Only in financial and material stability did the Scripture-engaged rank lower, ABS said.

The 2022 report, conducted in collaboration with the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, is based on 2,598 responses from a representative sample of adults 18 and older in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The study was conducted online and on the telephone Jan. 10-28.

ABS will release additional chapters of the study monthly, focusing on the Bible and society, faith across generations, speaking of faith in America, the Bible and technology, and generosity.