Spiritual Care for Spiritual Distress

by Cynthia Wacker

A simple tool to aid in examining our personal beliefs about the experience of violence. In thinking through these questions, how can we prepare to be healing agents for those who need compassionate, faithful support?

This term spiritual distress is used professionally within medical circles and recognizes the complete disruption of life that pervades a whole person and the need to address this in the healing process. Spiritual distress leads to the loss of self-worth, sense of trust, personal relationships or our faith. There can be a sense of shame and an inability to see hope for the future.

Faith congregations are not immune to violence that befalls human beings and society. Indeed, communities of faith often are specific targets of those with agendas, and pastors or lay ministers often are called on to work specifically with victims of violence. The expectation is that healing and restoration can and will occur in a place of worship.

The role of pastoral care for the results of violence is an unfolding mystery as each day brings a new component. There is no way to be fully prepared for the excruciating effect that violent behavior has on the very souls of us as individuals or a community. However, we must continue to examine our beliefs and individual attitudes toward friends, family and community affected by this unrelenting wounding to our spirits.

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