As we make our way through this unprecedented time, anxiety can be a byproduct for many people. Anxious thoughts and concerns can arise regarding all kinds of issues, from finances to social isolation. One of the stressful areas that has come to the forefront is of a spiritual nature, and is causing many to ask abstract questions. Rev. Kevin M. Correll, MAPC, M.Div., Manager, Pastoral Care from Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) and Carol Olzinski, MAPC, LCSW, counselor with Preferred EAP, have stepped up to offer some consolation. Here is a brief Q&A.
Q: Where is our higher power during COVID-19? Why are people being allowed to suffer?
A: Carol Olzinski: People have been asking questions of theodicy (human suffering) since time immemorial. Theologians and philosophers have offered answers that have been less than complete, and I’m not sure anyone can derive a concrete explanation that satisfies during this unusual period. In respect to various perspectives and differences in faith, I would offer that this is the time to turn to your spiritual self and your own personal beliefs. In the Christian tradition there is no promise that bad things will not happen, but we are assured that God is always with us. Romans 5:3-4 states, “Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Christians relish in the hope that one day all worldly things shall pass away and God in Christ Jesus shall triumph.
Q: What can people do to feel more in control?
A: Rev. Correll: Human beings all want to be in control, but sometimes we just aren’t. On an airplane for example, we’re trusting someone we don’t know with our lives. While Pastoral Care is an interfaith service, my personal belief is Christian-based and my higher power is God. Therefore, I believe that God is always in control. God’s control is optimal because He has a plan, and He knows the best plan for us far better than we do. His plan always brings us closer to Him and his teachings. I also believe that God walks with us and carries us through the challenges we face, whether loss of a job, divorce, or a pandemic. It gets difficult and we may wonder, “How am I going to get through this?” I can say with conviction that faith will help carry us through even the deepest, most exhausting challenges.
Q: How do you help others cope with uncertainty and suffering?
A: Carol Olzinski: As a Pastoral Counselor, I help clients weigh their experience and beliefs against insights offered by clergy and other spiritual resources. Everyone is on their own journey particular to their circumstances, and where they “land” is unique to them. Much of what I do is bear witness to suffering, and offer hope that it is only temporary. I personally believe that suffering is not in vain, and in the end goodness/justice triumphs and there will be an end to suffering.
Q: Has any “good” come of this crisis?
A: Rev. Correll: There is always good. During the pandemic, you just need to look for the helpers. Most people are running away, but health care workers are walking straight into the chaos. They’re living in their basements so they won’t infect their families. They’re making these sacrifices when they get home, and are still running toward the challenges the next day. It really demonstrates how important it is that we all work together. Perhaps the good that has come from this crisis is to understand how much we need to value each other. This has helped to teach us that everybody is equal and equally important.
For more information on individual counseling, call Preferred EAP at 610-433-8550, 1-800-327-8878, or complete a request at http://preferredeap.org/
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Populytics, Preferred EAP, LVHN, or their staffs.