With the release of my new book, The Hem of His Garment: Reaching Out To God When Pain Overwhelms, we’ve been discussing the different types of pain that people endure throughout their lifetimes. We’re all pretty familiar with physical, emotional, and even relational pain, but rarely do we hear much conversation about spiritual pain or sometimes referred to as spiritual distress. Have you ever faced a crisis that left you in distress spiritually? I’ll share more to help you understand the cause and impacts, how you can cope, and how you can find comfort in times of spiritual distress.

Spiritual pain is perhaps one of the lesser discussed aspects of pain, at least with such a label, though many endure spiritual pain even if they don’t define it that way. Spiritual pain is considered a disruption in one’s belief system or sense of relationship to God. Such pain, discomfort, distress, or angst may accompany the times in our life when we feel like God has abandoned us, turned his back on us, punished us, or simply allowed instances into our life for which we see no redeeming quality. These perspectives cause us to feel uncomfortably distanced from God and distressed by that sense of distance.

In today’s fast-paced, highly interconnected world, it is not uncommon for individuals to experience moments of spiritual distress. These moments can be triggered by personal crises, existential questioning, loss of faith, or even a general feeling of disconnect from God. When faced with such distress, finding comfort can play a pivotal role in reestablishing balance, meaning, and purpose in life, as well as a deeper relationship with God.

Understanding the Nature of Spiritual Distress and Pain: Exploring its Causes and Impacts

Our spirituality is a fundamental aspect of many individuals’ lives and plays a significant role in their overall well-being. However, just as one’s physical or mental health can be disrupted, so too can their spiritual well-being. Spiritual distress refers to a state of inner turmoil, confusion, or conflict concerning one’s spiritual beliefs, values, or connectedness.

Understanding Spiritual Distress:

Spiritual distress can encompass a wide range of emotions, including anxiety, guilt, doubt, anger, sadness, or a sense of emptiness. It involves a disquiet or unease that stems from the misalignment of one’s spiritual beliefs, experiences, or understanding with their current circumstances or personal growth. It can create a profound sense of internal conflict, often leaving individuals feeling disconnected, lost, or in a state of existential crisis.

Factors Contributing to Spiritual Distress:

  • Questioning Beliefs: One common factor contributing to spiritual distress is the questioning of long-held beliefs or values. As individuals grow and gain new perspectives, they may encounter situations or information that challenge their understanding of the world or their place in it. This can seed doubt and lead to a profound crisis of faith or purpose, sparking spiritual distress.
  • Experiencing Loss or Trauma: Significant life events, such as the death of a loved one, a traumatic experience, or a sudden change in circumstances, can also contribute to spiritual distress. These experiences can shatter previously existing spiritual frameworks, leaving individuals feeling disconnected from their understanding of God and their relationship to Him.
  • Feeling Disconnected from Spirituality: In our fast-paced and materialistic world, some individuals may find themselves feeling disconnected from God. This disconnection can result from the demands of daily life, societal pressures, or a lack of focus on introspection and self-care. Such disconnection can lead to a sense of spiritual distress, as one yearns for a deeper connection to God.

Impacts of Spiritual Distress:

Spiritual distress can have profound impacts on an individual’s overall well-being, affecting them physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. It can contribute to feelings of anxiety, depression, isolation, and a loss of hope or purpose. Additionally, spiritual distress may hinder an individual’s ability to cope with pain or challenges or seek solace in times of need. Left unaddressed, it can significantly impact one’s quality of life, relationships, and overall sense of peace.

 

God is always with us, even when our pain or distress blinds us to His presence. His word acknowledges that He inclines His ear to hear our prayers. If you’re experiencing spiritual distress, read more for how to understand the cause and impacts, how to cope, and how to find comfort in times of spiritual distress.

 

Coping with Spiritual Distress:

Addressing spiritual distress requires individualized approaches, as each person’s spiritual journey is unique. However, some general strategies can help individuals navigate this transformative process:

  • Self-reflection and Self-compassion: Engaging in self-reflection allows individuals to examine their spiritual beliefs, values, and experiences, fostering an understanding of their true identity in Christ. This introspective process can empower individuals to explore and more accurately recognize lies they have believed which are in direct contrast to God’s truth.
  • Seeking Support: Reaching out to supportive individuals, such as spiritual leaders, counselors, or trusted peers, can provide a safe space to discuss spiritual distress and explore potential resolutions. Sharing experiences with others who have navigated similar journeys can impart wisdom and offer comfort.
  • Engaging in Spiritual Practices: Participating in activities that foster spiritual connection, such as prayer, Bible study, meditation, and even engaging with nature, can help individuals foster a deeper relationship with God.

Recognizing the Need for Professional Help

Seeking professional guidance for spiritual distress is not an admission of weakness or a lack of faith. Instead, it is an acknowledgement that individuals are taking an active role in their well-being by recognizing the complexity of their spiritual pain. Several indicators suggest that professional assistance may be necessary:

  • Persistent emotional and psychological distress: If spiritual distress begins to manifest in ways that severely impact an individual’s mental health, such as chronic anxiety, suicidal thoughts, or a persistent feeling of emptiness, it becomes crucial to seek professional help.
  • Interference with daily functioning: When spiritual distress starts to affect an individual’s ability to carry out their daily routine, including work, relationships, and self-care, professional guidance is essential in regaining balance.
  • Unresolved questions regarding one’s faith: Deep questions regarding one’s faith, the nature and character of God, the purpose of life, the nature of truth, or feelings of loneliness can be overwhelming. Seeking professional help can provide the necessary tools to explore these questions and gain understanding within them.

When faced with spiritual distress, seeking professional guidance is a courageous step toward healing and self-discovery. Remember, reaching out for professional help does not diminish an individual’s faith; it enhances it by providing the necessary tools and support to navigate the complexities of such questions. While the enemy seeks to isolate us, by acknowledging that sometimes we cannot overcome spiritual pain or distress alone, we open ourselves up to the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

Engage in Acts of Compassion and Service:

In a world that often seems divided, chaotic, and challenging, acts of compassion and service have the power to bring about positive change and transform lives. Engaging in acts of kindness towards others not only benefits those receiving support but also enriches our own lives. It creates a ripple effect, inspiring others to pay it forward and fostering a sense of unity and community.

Compassion, defined as the deep awareness of the suffering of others coupled with a desire to alleviate it, is a fundamental aspect of our human nature. Historically, societies have thrived when individuals come together to support and uplift one another. Whether it is helping those less fortunate with their basic needs, offering emotional support, or challenging systemic injustice, acts of compassion address the underlying human need for connection and empathy.

Engaging in acts of compassion and service allows us to move beyond our individual concerns and become part of something greater. Whether we volunteer at a local shelter, donate time or resources to a non-profit organization, or assist friends and family in their times of need, these acts build bridges that foster understanding and compassion. God says in His word that if we want to be great, we must first be a servant, with a heart for serving those around us.

While acts of service contribute to the overall well-being of our communities, they also have remarkable personal benefits. Research has shown that engaging in compassionate acts releases endorphins, the feel-good chemicals in the brain. This, in turn, leads to improved mental and emotional health, decreased stress, and increased happiness and life satisfaction.

While there are many suggestions above for how to find comfort in times of spiritual distress, perhaps the most important is that despite our spiritual pain or distress, God invites us to draw near to Him then He will draw near to us (see James 4:8). God is always with us, even when our pain or distress blinds us to His presence. His word acknowledges that He inclines His ear to hear our prayers (see Psalm 116:2), and that He will never leave us or forsake us (see Deuteronomy 31:6). Instead of viewing spiritual pain with shame or embarrassment, let’s view it as an opportunity to draw near to God, strengthen our relationship to Him, and grow to understand more of His character.

We’d love to hear what you do to find comfort in times of spiritual pain or distress, in the comments below.

Friend, if you are experiencing physical, emotional, relational, financial, or spiritual pain, grief or loss, can I encourage you to pick up a copy of my book The Hem of His Garment: Reaching Out To God When Pain Overwhelms. I wrote it in the crucible of pain, with you in mind. In it, I address the common thoughts and questions of pain sufferers, I openly and authentically share about my own painful journey, and I encourage you to hold on to your trust in God while waiting for your healing.

 

 

The Hem of His Garment

Now Available!

The Hem of His Garment is now available where books and ebooks are sold.

 

We all experience pain from time to time, and not just physical pain, but also emotional pain, relational pain, spiritual pain, grief and loss.

I’ve been there. I’ve experienced each one of those types of pain. I’ve asked the hard questions. I’ve searched the scriptures for biblical examples and lessons learned through pain and suffering. And I’m sharing a fresh perspective in my new book “The Hem of His Garment: Reaching Out to God When Pain Overwhelms.”

Here’s what Michelle Nietert, M.A., LPC-S, Clinical Director of Hope Helps, Author of Loved and Cherished, had to say about The Hem of His Garment: “In The Hem of His Garment, Dr. Michelle Bengtson provides holistic, practical, and biblical strategies to help us move through our pain. Her approach to the seven different primary forms of pain including the less commonly discussed emotional pain, relational pain and secondary dynamics of pain inflicted by others is a much needed resource for faith-based medical and mental health professionals.”

The Hem of His Garment: Reaching Out to God When Pain Overwhelms is now available on AmazonBarnes & NobleChristianBook.comBooks-A-Million, and other fine book retailers.

Click here to learn more: The Hem of His Garment.

 

 

In today's fast-paced, highly interconnected world, it is not uncommon for individuals to experience moments of spiritual distress. Causes range from personal crises, existential questioning, loss of faith, or even a general feeling of disconnect from God. We can reestablish balance, meaning, and purpose in life, as well as a deeper relationship with God. Read more for how to understand the cause and impacts, how to cope, and how to find comfort in times of spiritual distress.

Share
Tweet
Pin
Share
Email