I’m an observant Jew. Here’s why I want more Americans to come to Jesus.

Deaths of despair in general, whether by suicide or substance abuse, have been steadily reversing modern medicine’s progress. As Princeton University economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton have observed, the mortality rate among non-college educated, middle-aged white Americans has risen since 1999, a ripple effect of globalization and other social changes. As Case told NPR, “These deaths of despair have been accompanied by reduced labor force participation, reduced marriage rates, increases in reports of poor health and poor mental health.”

Americans are indeed lonelier than ever. One quarter of us don’t have anyone to confide in about the ups and downs of life. Last year, Pew Research found that “roughly one-in-ten Americans say they feel lonely all or most of the time across gender, racial and ethnic, and age groups,” with low-income and unmarried Americans more likely to self-identify as lonely…

Lest anyone despair, religion offers real hope. As part of a global study, Pew Research found that “actively religious people are more likely than their less-religious peers to describe themselves as ‘very happy’ in about half of the countries surveyed,” including 36 percent of that cohort in the United States.