While health care professionals focus on the physical and psychological needs of people [patients], it is vitally important for the church to address the emotional and spiritual needs. When coming along side people who are encountering difficult life situations and struggles, they want to feel that there is an awareness of and appreciation for their feelings and circumstances. Additionally, people do not want to be criticized, fixed, or feel as though they are being judged. It is when there is a genuine sense of caring that people become increasingly willing to open up.
Though emotional needs and spiritual needs are considered to be distinct and separate from one another, research has shown that in many ways they are interrelated. While both encompass a search for meaning and hope, spirituality goes farther to include religious practices and seeking the peace and presence of God. In fact, when people’s emotional and spiritual needs are not adequately addressed, anger, depression, feelings of hopelessness, negative emotions and stress amplify our feelings of separation from God and our brothers and sisters in Christ. Additionally, there are increased health risks and greater potential to experience health complications. So what are some of the benefits of emotional and spiritual care?
- Deeper relationships and spiritual growth
- A sense of connectedness
- Improved quality of life
- Enhanced emotional coping and psychosocial functioning
- Improved emotional and functional adjustment
- Decreased anxiety
- And more
A challenge for Christians and the church, however, is that the combination of ‘good intentions’ and ‘good people’ doesn’t inevitably equate to loving and caring for people as Jesus commands. In other words, without a concerted effort, a clear sense of purpose, and solid biblically-based training, expressions of care are naturally secular and void of any spiritual support and encouragement. CARE may be the ultimate discipling opportunity as difficult life circumstances are where the proverbial rubber meets the road and faith becomes real. Don’t miss the discipling opportunity!