Pain, Suffering and Resilience

Stephen Muse
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Spiritual Integration in psychotherapy together with integrative approaches in medicine are increasingly recognized as offering the best care for those who suffer as well as for those who care for them.
This volume is a compilation edited from peer-reviewed papers selected from presenters at the 2016 and 2017 national conferences of the Orthodox Christian Association of Medicine, Psychology and Religion which includes eminent scholars, clergy, physicians, and psychotherapists seeking to serve people in their respective fields, through their respective disciplines informed and guided by the depth and riches of the Orthodox Christian Faith. This is the unifying thread for each of the contributors who bring this ancient Christian perspective into dialogue with the contributions of modern psychology and medical science as they seek to address the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual dimensions of pain and human suffering in a variety of contexts. The first half of the book focuses on the nature and problem of suffering, moving from the theological challenge of the story of Job and the problem of evil, to address the challenges of addiction and psychopathology, military medicine and trauma in combat as well as in the community.
The changing health care environment and the effects of stress on the healer is included and as one author concluded, “Our suffering in this life becomes an opportunity to draw near to Christ, suffer with him, find meaning in our suffering, and allow our suffering to be a vehicle for redemption in this world.” In the second half of the book, stories, reflections and discussions of chaplains physicians, priests and psychotherapists drawing from the well of Orthodox spiritual life, illumine the nature of resilience, revealing a greater depth to the human person. This is seen more clearly in the paradoxical face of resilience which is born out of the challenges of suffering that opens the way of transformative actions of the Spirit.
Elder Alexander of Gethsemane captures a mystery that is at the heart of the discussions, with his observation that, “The amount of suffering that the soul can accommodate is also how much it can accommodate the grace of God.