When Edna Parker, the world’s oldest woman, turned 115 years old recently, she sparked another debate on reasons for longevity. In Edna’s case, some theorized it might have been caused by her lifetime of chores on the family farm. Others suggested it was just the result of having good genes (her sister, Georgia, lived to be 99 and another sister, Opal, reached 88), but her grandson, Don Parker, may have voiced the most likely causes that contributed to Edna’s long life:
“We don’t know why she’s lived so long, but she’s never been a worrier and she’s always been a thin person, so maybe that has something to do with it.”
Two years ago, Edna’s age attracted the attention of the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University so samples of her blood were taken for the group’s DNA database. Her DNA is now preserved with samples of about 100 other people who lived 110 years or more with the hope of discovering the reasons for long life expectancies.
There are only seventy-five living people (64 women and 11 men) who are 110 years old or older, according to the Gerontology Research Group of Inglewood, California and the mystery of why these have survived so long continues.
Reasons for living longer keep emerging from studies. One gave credit to active lifestyles, touting the value of exercise; another claimed people who attend church more than once a week live longer and one concluded that daily Bible reading could add as much as seven years to your life.
Dr. Tom Peris, an aging specialist at Boston University, concludes that people who live long have this in common: “they appear not to dwell on stressful events. They seem to manage their stress better than the rest of us.”
In his book, There’s a lot more to health than not being sick,” Bruce Larsen says in the three societies where people live the longest people continue to work, tend fields, keep shop and do other normal lifetime tasks until they suddenly die at 100 plus. He quotes a friend of his who said he wants to die young at an advanced age: old in years but not in attitude.
Consider how a Biblical lifestyle helps manage stress in ways that fit the human needs revealed in each of these studies on extending life.
Are you stressed out because of worries about your future?
“Be anxious for nothing” (Philippians 4:6)
Do you feel alone?
“I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20).
Has absence from your church robbed you of the joy that comes from fellowship?
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25)
Are you unable to cope with daily cares?
“Casting all your care upon Him for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7)
Conquering daily stress through faith and trading your fears for a song may cause others someday to conclude this is the reason you’ve lived so long.