How to Heal from Trauma

Psalm 107:13-16

“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.”

Psalm 147:3

“He heals the brokenhearted, and bandages their wounds.”

Let the words from the Scriptures above reach down into your soul and bring healing.  Our God is able to bring us out of dark times and burst our bonds.  He is able to shatter doors of bronze and iron.  What does that mean?  He is stronger than anything in our lives and able to help us overcome what seems insurmountable.  Whatever has us shackled, whether it is the past, filled with heart breaking sorrow, or the future that we are dreading as some news threatens to steal your joy, everything is possible for we who are overcomers in Christ Jesus.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made by a loving God.  Fragile enough to be harmed, but strong enough to recover.  But sometimes the hurt goes so deep and has affected us so profoundly that it appears hopeless that we will ever see real healing.

Life is hard enough without all the harm people do to other people.  Growing in responsibilities and facing all of life’s surprises is made significantly more difficult when we go through something so horrific it alters our very existence and approach in life.

Emotional turmoil brought on by traumatic events is not an easy fix.  We can see easily enough wounds wrought on the surface, whether it is a scraped knee or a more serious physical injury, but the wounds to the heart and the human spirit are not so easily discerned or healed.  How does one heal from abuse?  A sudden death?  A diagnosis that is too hard to bear?

Jesus.  Yes, I know – it is the answer everyone says in Sunday school class when they don’t know the answer.  Ironically enough, He is the answer.  What does it mean to give someone Jesus?  It means running to His Word and searching for comfort there.  It means that people who have been traumatized just want to be understood.  We do not just want meals or wise words thrown at us.  We need someone to weep with us and help us to see that God does have a hope and a future. We need someone to climb down in the pit with us and help us find a new way of functioning; acknowledging the sorrow but then asking God with us for wisdom and for His solution as well as practical helps.

I write today as one who has endured a lot of significant trauma in my life and seen God’s healing hand in my life.  I write as someone who wants to help other people I love dearly and people I do not know receive this same healing.  Facing the trauma takes bravery and honesty.  We have to expose the lies.  We are not the only one.  Part of trauma’s potent blow is that we feel isolated, strange, different because we have suffered something that we do not want to utter. No one else wants to hear about it, either.  Choosing to not believe the lies that are encompassing us about as we try to grab onto some hope that we will not always be “damaged” is nothing short of miraculous.

Sometimes the only trust we can have is in the fact that God is good and that He keeps His promises.  Even believing this truth is challenging when we are myopic and our view is clouded by our pain.

Believing that we are not defined by our deepest sorrow takes faith.  It means taking God at His word.  Despite the fact that our suffering has affected us in such negative ways, the only label we need bear is “child of God”.  Not “victim”, not “strange”, but “beloved” and “cherished” and “healed” by a God Who loves us.

When we do not have the strength to muster to proclaim that we have overcome and we no longer have it in us to keep going, that place which seems like an end is a new beginning.  At the end of ourselves, we can only look to Jesus.  Like the woman who grabbed the cloak of Jesus in desperation, we need to come to that end of trying to make it on our own and admit our need of Him to heal us.  We are not strong enough or wise enough to heal on our own,  but our God Who made us is.

Lord, there are so many hurting people and my heart breaks for each one.  I know You are enough – help me to be Your hands and feet and to bring healing to your children through Your Word and Your holy Spirit.  Help all victims to arise as victors in Christ; give us strength and heal us from the deepest place of our wounds and show Yourself as Almighty God.  Nothing is too difficult for You, our Jehovah Rapha.

Worshipful Wednesday: The God Who Teaches Us

Psalm 25:1, 4-5, 8-9, 12, 14

1 “O Lord, I come before you in prayer. 4 Make me understand your ways, O LordTeach me your paths! 5 Guide me into your truth and teach me.  For you are the God who delivers me; on you I rely all day long8 The Lord is both kind and fair; that is why he teaches sinners the right way to live9 May he show the humble what is right!  May he teach the humble his way!  12 The Lord shows his faithful followers the way they should live. 14 The Lord’s loyal followers receive his guidance, and he reveals his covenantal demands to them.”

We have all had teachers we have admired and ones we could have done without.  Some inspired us and some discouraged us.  Although teaching is not always a lucrative career, teaching is valued highly by God and near to His heart. David knew where to get wisdom on how to live.  He cried out.  Those who want to know more of God or how to live in order to please him just need to ask Him.  He is willing to teach us!  To be tutored by the Most High God is no small thing. Today, I worship our Almighty God and Shepherd, the best teacher of all, Who will personally guide each of us and instruct us through his Holy Spirit.  His rebuke is life-giving, but only the humble can receive it.

As a homeschool mom for 18 years, teaching brings an inner delight to me.  God called me to home educate the children He gave me before my first child was born.  I chose to home educate out of obedience and also because more than anything, I cared deeply about my children’s character and knowledge of God.  To be able to convey a truth to my children and have them perceive and comprehend it on deeper and deeper levels over the years has never ceased to amaze me. The first time my oldest was reading at age three was thrilling!  A door had just been opened to her – though it could be for knowledge of good or bad – she was most importantly able to gain insight into her Creator and into life.

I vividly recall when we were doing a bible study out of the book of Romans and the look on my oldest daughter’s face at age four conveyed her understanding for the first time that “no one was good, no not one”.  She wept and realized that she needed a Savior.  Wow.  God instructed her through His living word.  Over the years, all of my children have had crowning moments of academic success as well as difficult moments of realizing they still had so much to learn.  So do we all.

The paucity of knowledge is not to be lamented, however, when we have a God Who has all knowledge and He wants to give it to us. Even knowledge that appears unimportant can become a treasure.  Each station in life offers opportunities to learn something new.  When the subject or trial we are in appears mundane and inapplicable to life (like some school subjects my kids tell me are not important), God uses it all.  Education equips us for future endeavors or callings on our lives that He wants to use to enable us for that season and for His glory.

I have always loved to learn new things, so it is difficult for me to comprehend someone not being fascinated with the opportunity of obtaining more knowledge.  Knowledge is a doorway to wisdom, when correctly applied, and to be able to understand more of God is the highest privilege.

Sometimes, though, teaching is not a delight.  Burnout can occur, of course, but when the pupil is lazy, not teachable or not desiring to learn, teaching can become a daunting task.  I imagine that our lack of zeal to instruct as a teacher or to search for more insight and understanding from God as a student hurts His heart.  He is ready to teach us, to show us more of Him, and we often do not even arise to knock on His door.

As a teacher, our children might not be crying out for wisdom, but we can also ask God, Who is the wisest teacher, to help us to provoke them to want to learn.  When I consider how good God is, that He would not just command, but would show us how to obey by walking among us as a fragile human, I am completely undone.  We have no excuse – we have a God Who is alive and Who has not left us without instruction.  He was also willing to live it out before us.  Ignorance kept us in sin – but God did not leave us in that place.  Our flesh may often tire, but we can still cry out for God to give me a hunger to learn more of Him.  If we feel discouraged or unmotivated to continue educating others or to to be inspired to learn, God can meet us at that place and ignite our hearts again with deeper truths worth exploring – we just need to ask Him.  His knowledge knows no end and He promises to give wisdom to those who ask Him.

Lord, thank You for teaching us daily and in Your mercy showing us our faults and sins, that we could become more like You.  Helps us to be teachable and to yearn your correction, for it brings life – and that abundantly.

Scriptural Sunday: We Have the Mind of Christ

Photo Credits: christintheclouds.blogspot.com

Photo Credits:
christintheclouds.blogspot.com

1 Corinthians 2:9-10

“But just as it is written, “Things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined, are the things God has prepared for those who love him.”  God has revealed these to us by the Spirit.  For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”  11 For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God. 13 And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom, but with those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. 14 The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The one who is spiritual discerns all things, yet he himself is understood by no one. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to advise him?   But we have the mind of Christ.”

Philippians 2:5

“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.”

2 Timothy 1:7

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

On Sundays, I want to simply share Scripture and a prayer from my devotion time to reflect on.

Lord, what is man, that You would give us Your Spirit and reveal deep mysteries to us?  That You would grant us the mind of Christ?  Wow.  We cannot understand the simplest words from Your Word without You mercifully opening our eyes. We are humbled, oh God, by Your kindness.  We are blessed to have seen any revelation from You.

Lord, help us to fill our mind with only what pleases You, to choose to dwell on thoughts that bring You glory.  Thank You for opening our eyes to see and to know You!

Thoughtful Thursday: The Blessing of Rebuke

Job 5:8, 17-19

5:8But as for me, I would seek Godand to God I would set forth my case. 17Therefore, blessed is the man whom God corrects, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. 18 For he wounds, but he also bandageshe strikes, but his hands also heal19 He will deliver you from six calamitiesyes, in seven no evil will touch you.”

Proverbs 15:32

“The one who refuses correction despises himself, but whoever hears reproof acquires understanding.”

Psalms 94:12

“How blessed is the one whom you instruct, O Lordthe one whom you teach from your law.”

Psalm 145:1

“May the godly strike me in love and correct me! May my head not refuse choice oil! Indeed, my prayer is a witness against their evil deeds.”

This morning I am praising and thanking God that He loves us enough to rebuke us.  That’s right.  Where would we be, if we were just left in our sin?  Some of you might be tempted to say – “free” – but enslavement to sin or poor character is not free at all.  I love how the Holy Spirit can speak to us right in the middle of a thought we are having.  At the doorway to our mind and heart are multiple thoughts, seemingly at the speed of light.  I daresay we allow some in without realizing the poison they are injecting.  It is in those moments that I am so grateful for God opening our eyes to recognize thoughts of pride, jealousy, anger, hatred that are astir in our minds.  We might not call our thoughts those names, but if we look at the root and give our sins the worst name, we are not deceived.

We all know that feeling you get when you’ve been caught – either by another person or the Holy Spirit within you.  Sort of like the child with their hand immersed into the proverbial cookie jar, there is no denying the rebuke you feel in your spirit. As much as that conviction might not be pleasant, what a gift it is!  Our response in the moments following being confronted with our shortcomings can produce beautiful fruit if we let it. Do we attempt to deny the allegations, become offended at someone else judging us, or do we consider the rebuke as an opportunity for reflection and ultimate blessing?

Perhaps a rebuke is errant – maybe it is not applicable at all.  Praise God!  But more times than not, if we are honest, we are culpable on some level to the charge being asserted.  The messenger might not have been godly in their correction – even more of an opportunity to glorify God by not taking it personally.  A poor messenger does not always mean the message is not valid.

Maybe there is truth in the rebuke, confirmed by the familiar conviction felt in our soul.  What then?  No despair or discouragement is necessary.  Isn’t that awesome?  Just recognition and surrender to God, then replacing those thoughts with His.  Feeling mistreated by someone?  Pray for them (not judgmentally, lol), sincerely and do not allow your thoughts to become presumptive.  Let it go.  Accept the rebuke and realize that it is not an end, but a beginning.

David was shocked to hear of the behavior that the prophet Nathan detailed about a wicked man who would take from someone less fortunate.  When he realized it was him being spoken about, that he was the adulterer and the murderer, he was undone.  He repented and acknowledged his guilt before God.  He had become deceived and yielded to the flesh, despite knowing God to be the one true God.  We in the New Testament can do the same thing, yet the standard is higher. Our thoughts condemn us as just as guilty as if we had committed the actions those thoughts represent.

So where is the blessing in rebuke?  The book of Job, chapter 5 lists numerous ways we are blessed by accepting God’s rebuke.  We are redeemed from death, famine, the power of the sword, protected from malicious gossip, no fear of destruction, unafraid, our home will be secure.  Sounds pretty good to me.

Here’s the good news today – God never gives up on us.  He is a loving Father Who corrects His children, always with a redemptive purpose in mind.  Accepting His rebuke is accepting life.  Refusing rebuke or making excuses for it is death. Some may rebuke with the purpose of tearing down, but God is able to take even that and turn it around for our good. Amazing, awesome God.

Lord, thank you for teaching us through Your Holy Spirit and revealing sin, that we might gain forgiveness and fellowship with You.

Worshipful Wednesday: A Living Sanctuary

Photo Credits Ron Giangiacomo

Photo Credits
Ron Giangiacomo

Psalm 114:1-2

“When Israel left Egypt, when the family of Jacob left a foreign nation behind, 2 Judah became his sanctuary, Israel His Kingdom.”

1 Corinthians 3:16

 “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”

1 Corinthians 6:19
” Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”
2 Corinthians 6:16
Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.”
Ezekiel 36:27
I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”
Psalm 116:6,13
“I will serve the LORD in the land of the living,13 I will celebrate my deliverance and call on the name of the LORD.”

Psalm 115:1

“Not to us, O LORD, not to us!  But to Your name bring honor, for the sake of your loyal love and faithfulness.”

How humbling and amazing it is that the God of this universe would choose to dwell in us.  And for what purpose would a perfect, Holy Being elect to dwell in a sinful vessel?  His glory and relationship.  Amazing love and grace.  It is his indwelling that makes us Holy and restores our relationship with Him.

What a beautiful picture it is of the Israelites, choosing to accept the deliverance of God and leaving behind Egypt and all of its hardship and trappings.  It took faith, for sure, to trust in God to deliver them – their enemy was so powerful.  But that faith was met with a glorious fulfillment in which His people became His sanctuary.  Imagine if they accepted the deliverance from God but still wanted to serve the gods of Egypt – would God condone such an action?  Sound familiar?

We, too, were called to come out and be separate – to leave our former way of life and walk in a new abundant life.  We cannot remain unchanged, we cannot take the sinful traditions around us and think God will wink at that.  When the Holy indwells the unholy, it is to redeem and change us forever, it is to purchase us from a dead way of living, and we are no longer our own.  The things of this world which we would cling to in ignorance, only serve to hinder the transformation that Christ is accomplishing in those who are fully surrendered to Him.

Without His indwelling, we would merely be trying to follow laws, which we can never fully achieve.  With His indwelling, God is able to convict us of sin and cause us to walk in His statutes.  What a miracle that is – formerly we had no concern for obeying God, then suddenly our hearts desire to do His will.  Praise God!

Ultimately, this radical love expressed in such a sacrificial salvation was all for His glory.  We are the benefactors but also the mirrors which reflect His glory.  He, being manifest and represented in each of us Who have accepted His free gift, restores to us once again what it is to be made in His image.

Lord, thank You for saving us!  Thank you for Your mighty deliverance!  Help us to not use this freedom to indulge the flesh by compromising and still living like we did when you saved us.  The cost was high and may we never take Your salvation for granted.