Q. My cancer has just come back, and I feel really let down by my faith. Is this normal, and is there something that could help me through this crisis?

A.

The Chinese word for “crisis,” wēijī is composed of two characters: wēi, which means “danger,” and jī, which means “turning point.”

A spiritual crisis can certainly be a “turning point” in your life – one in which you reevaluate what is important in life, reexamine your faith, and maybe even find a new faith or spiritual tradition that makes more sense to you based on your experience. It can present “danger” in the sense that sometimes, if you reject your faith during a critical time, you may lose the opportunity to be comforted by your beliefs.

There can be times when it seems that God, or the higher power you believe in, is not present in the midst of our suffering. One option is to believe that. Another option is to look deeper and try to find evidence of this higher power’s presence, for instance in the caring words of those around us. You might see such signs of compassion and empathy – one person showing interest or concern for another. But perhaps these are the means by which divine or universal love is made manifest.

Many faith traditions have written materials to address the issue of a spiritual crisis. You may also find it more helpful to speak in person with a clergy person of your faith, or contact a local interfaith center if you prefer to speak with someone outside of your own tradition, about your feelings.