Reflecting Upon God Images and the Spirituality of Suffering in the Context of a Medical Crisis: A Method for Brief Pastoral Care

Joseph Walters, Fordham University

Abstract

The intent of this project was to develop some guidelines for chaplains to use in their brief ministry to persons who are experiencing a medical crisis that also includes spiritual distress. I first described my ministry setting, in a large teaching hospital in the South Central United States. I presented examples of ministry that exemplify the problem to be addressed, which is how to assist persons to initiate reflection on their image of God in the midst of a medical crisis and to integrate the experience into their spiritual lives. I approached the problem from the psychological framework of object relations theory and attachment theory. Both theories propose that persons form patterns for relating in early childhood that color all their relationships in later life, including to the divine. The theological framework for my work is from the perspective of suffering and theodicy, with a scriptural base in the Book of Job. I gathered data from focus groups of chaplains who provide pastoral care in the same geographic area. The data from the focus groups generally confirmed and illustrated much of the theoretical literature, and provided insight into offering pastoral care to persons who are experiencing a medical crisis. I offer a method of care to persons who are experiencing a medical crisis that includes, in appropriate circumstances, exploration of one’s family history, image of God, and struggles with the problem of theodicy.^

Subject Area

Psychology|Spirituality

Recommended Citation

Walters, Joseph, "Reflecting Upon God Images and the Spirituality of Suffering in the Context of a Medical Crisis: A Method for Brief Pastoral Care" (2017). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10280360.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI10280360

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