I found this article a good challenge:
A study says people who are suffering and believe they are being punished or that God has left them don’t heal as fast as those who are more “spiritually optimistic.”
It seems plausible that negative thinking can sure have an impact. Such as thinking your family doesn’t support you or that they judge you. The blame game makes it all worse.
This statement at the end of the article makes some sense.
With an empathetic, patient-centered approach, caretakers “can help people (address their negative spiritual beliefs) and see something different, albeit not over night,” Ellor said.
What the article fails to mention is that these times, when people are going through questioning of their faith in the midst of suffering, may be ideal moments to reconsider their beliefs. Indeed, it may a good time to let go of thinking about the supernatural itself. This is when a Secular Chaplain (or other truly caring person who includes non-belief as an option) could be a great help.
When people have told me they think God is punishing them or has left them, I listen and wonder if they have more to say. Maybe it isn’t simply a matter of changing their negative beliefs to positive beliefs. Maybe it’s the moment when they are realizing their God, their faith, their religious sentiments are no longer valid. Maybe this is their time to acknowledge or admit there is another option: It’s not God that abandoned them–it’s their time to abandon God.
I’m not saying that a suffering person who has religious beliefs should just let them go and become an atheist. I’m saying a good chaplain might just leave one more door open to help them through their suffering. The door of leaving faith.
The professor of health psychology says, “If you believe God’s working against you, it’s going to be hard to get better.”
I agree. And, for some people, it may be good for “caretakers” (compassionate supporters) to at least be open to the possibility that belief in the supernatural itself can be a cause, or a part of the suffering.
Chaplains might be more helpful and more effective keeping this viable (and potentially healing) option in mind.