Thursday, 07 July 2011 07:28

Helping Those Labeled with PTSD, Part 2

Written by  Henry Beaulieu
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Building on what I spoke to last month regarding a healthy response to traumatic situations, it’s critical to repeat that the basis of all genuine change begins when a person is yielded to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Have you cried out to God to forgive you of your sins and cleanse your soul? Do you know the reality and the power of the Holy Spirit living in your life – do you know that you are a child of God, do you hate your sin, and do you desire to live for Christ? From my perspective and that of the Bible, this is the necessary foundation to good and lasting change.


Similarly, how do you view God’s word? Do you believe that it speaks to the particular hardship and suffering you are experiencing? For example, the Bible is very familiar with combat and how it can affect people. There is a good reason why Psalm 23 and 91 are favorite passages often found inside the helmets of soldiers throughout the world; they readily associate with vivid images of combat (“valley of the shadow of death,” “the terror at night,” the “pestilence that walks in darkness,” “thousands falling at your side”) given in these passages. Thus, God knows! And His word is realistic about the horrors of this world! Thus, when God also gives solutions to what ails us in our responses to horrible events, He knows what He is talking about!
What is your current spiritual state? What are your motives for seeking change? The attitude of the heart is essential for deep and lasting change to take place:

1. Examine Philippians 1:21 and II Corinthians 5:9. Ask yourself, “Do I desire to glorify God more than I desire to be understood, be accepted, or be safe?”

2. Examine James 4:1–10. Ask yourself, “What do I want so badly that I’m willing to sin to get it?”

3. Examine Matthew 22:37-39. Ask yourself, “Do I love God more than self and love others at least as much as myself?”

4. Examine John 13:12-17. Ask yourself, “Am I willing to move from longing to be served to longing to serve?”
Meditating on God’s word should help connect the motive of loving God to the concept of being more obedience-oriented than feelings-oriented.

Help Begins Here:

1. Put on a Biblical view of trouble. Read and meditate on James 1:1-2, Hebrews 12:1-2, and Genesis chapters 36 through 48 to see how God uses evil actions on the part of men to bless a person He loves. Many veterans struggling with fear, anger, and guilt believe that what happened to them was absolutely the worst thing possible! Yet for the believer, God has a plan even in the midst of traumatic events. The most evil thing that ever happened was the murder of the Son of God; yet, Christ counted it as “all joy” because of what His Father promised to do through it.

2. Put on genuine “rest”. In Matthew 11, Jesus speaks experiencing deep rest! He’s not primarily speaking of physical rest, but of a internal rest. Ultimately, a lack of peace is the result of sin; fierce anger, fear, unrest, and guilt reside in the heart – trauma simply brings it to the surface! For example, the pride in Job’s heart is not revealed until the trauma of his situation brings it to the surface. To appropriate the “rest” Christ speaks of in Matthew 11:28-30, we must do three things:

“Come to Me.” This implies leaving behind your efforts, works, burdens, guilt, and methods of finding relief (ungoverned anger, trying to control every situation, withdrawing, trying to do penance rather than repenting, loosing yourself in drugs, alcohol, pornography, ect.) in order to turn to Christ alone. Jesus’ words imply a necessity of trust, dependence, and faith in Him.

“Learn from Me.” You can’t learn from Christ unless you know and meditate on His Word. God’s will for your life is revealed in the Bible; it’s not hidden or mystical. Learn the will of God from His word. Learn about Christ; abide in His word.

“Take my yoke.” This symbolizes the Lordship of Christ. More than a feeling or an exhaustive knowledge of the Bible, a person surrenders to Christ by doing what He says. Hebrews 5:14 teaches us that many believers are not practiced yielding to Christ lordship. Thus, it’s no wonder that they improperly respond to trial and trauma.

3. Put off crippling fear. Isaiah 8:12–13 and I Peter 3:13-14 both teach us that if we fear God properly, the fear of man and circumstances will diminish. Only a son or daughter can fear God as Father and thus fear Him properly. Matthew 10:28 tells us that proper fear yields strength and confidence.
Psalm 56:1–4 challenges us to choose to meditate on and trust in God’s promises (this requires action). Do you know His promises? Biblical meditation requires specific application at specific times.

In Psalm 10, God gives comfort to those who suffer due to evil. Do you turn to God first for such comfort? It’s alright to ask God “why” provided the question is asked with meek spirit; Verses 1–11 describe the problem of evil and our lack of insight into everything God is doing. But Verses 12–18 give the solution which is found in both His ultimate justice toward the evil person and His kindness/power toward those who are humble before Him.

4. Put on worship rather than obsess on the situation. When you read Philippians 4:4–9, remember to apply it in the context of Acts 16! When Paul first came to Philippi, he was beaten and cast into prison because he delivered a demonic woman from her misery. Beaten and in prison, Paul did not obsess on his situation; rather, he worshipped with praise and thanksgiving! Philippians 4 was written with this context in mind.

I trust this is a beginning point for you in terms of gathering biblical tools for managing and overcoming the struggle with grief, anger, and fear that can result from exposure to traumatic events. It is impossible to say everything that could be said in one place at one time, but I pray this is a good start. If you or someone you love is struggling in this manner, I strongly encourage you to seek out the help of a Biblical Counselor. A Biblical Counselor will remind you that you are responsible for how you respond to your experiences. At the same time, he will steer you away from labeling yourself with a “disorder.” A Biblical Counselor will demonstrate a genuine empathy toward what you have been through. However, he won’t allow good empathy to translate into letting you think of yourself as a victim. That would do no good but would rather make the problem much worse.

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