What To Do When Patients Believe God Has Abandoned Them

Patients who hold negative spiritual beliefs, such as asserting that God is punishing them or that he's abandoned them, experience more physical pain and diminished mental health compared to their spiritually optimistic counterparts, according to a study in the Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health.

Researchers behind the study, published this past summer, concluded that caretakers should try to intervene to help patients gain a more positive spiritual outlook to guard them against harmful physical and mental health consequences. However, experts who have studied how people cope with negative spiritual beliefs said shifting someone's spirituality is a difficult process, which can't be undertaken lightly.

"If someone believes God is judging them and you talk about a benevolent God, you're spitting in the wind, because they're looking for an answer to why God is judging them and you're telling them they're supported," said Jim Ellor, a professor of social work at Baylor University who has been active in chaplaincy ministry for more than 35 years.

Read more on Deseret News