It helps about as much as anything else, I guess.
Or maybe I’m not defining “difficult times” properly, here. See I tend to think of most of my life as “difficult times”, even when things are good, because I suffer from mental illness and spend much of my time locked in depression and anxiety. So to that end, my faith helps about as much or as little as any of the other self-care or coping mechanisms I have created over the years.
If we’re talking more acute pain, not the chronic, never-ending hell that is mental illness, then…I don’t know.
Ok. So. I guess the most recent example is my mom being sick and it probably being cancer again and waiting and waiting and waiting for a diagnosis and just, wow, this really fucking sucks. How has my faith helped me through?
Well. In my faith I’m well aware that the gods are not omnipotent, nor omniscient. (Omnipresent? maybe, but not in the way it’s usually meant when speaking of any particular deity, I think.) So I don’t spend time railing against Them, specifically, because I know this isn’t a decision They made. It’s just something that happened.
(I do question how it’s fair that my mom gets sick and gets crapped on and how we never seem to catch a fucking break, but I know it’s not fair, and that life isn’t fair, and the universe just sucks sometimes. That’s just me venting, rhetorically. I know the answer to the questions I’m posing.)
So in that way, it doesn’t hurt my faith when these things happen. My faith doesn’t get shaken because I don’t start from the premise that the gods decide everything that happens and make these decisions for us, or make us sick, or stuff like that.
That said, I do believe They can help heal us, or help protect us, if we ask. So my faith has helped in that I know my gods are looking out for my mom, and for me, and that regardless what happens They’ll be there for me.
It also helps having a divine Dad with whom to speak about this stuff.
So I guess there’s no real specific thing I can point to to say “This is how my faith helps me in difficult times.” There’s no miracle. It’s just a background thing; a thing that’s there.
That said, I do need more. I need rituals and prayers and things I can do so as to allay the helplessness I often feel in situations like this. The background stuff is helpful, but not as helpful as I’d like it to be. Other religions have set things in place that you do when the shit hits the fan. Mine…doesn’t.
So again, this is back to major life events — I have work to do.