Is Trauma Terminal?

The definition reflects devastation. Trauma: An injury (as a wound) to living tissue caused by an extrinsic agent . . . a disordered psychic or behavioral state resulting from mental or emotional stress. Like potatoes in a pressure cooker, we twenty-first century creatures understand the meaning of stress. A week doesn’t pass without a few skirmishes with those “extrinsic agents” that beat upon our fragile frames.

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Ultimate Rejection

A number of years ago, on Valentine’s Day, a couple was enjoying a romantic drive along a wooded section near Belle Chasse, Louisiana. Something white, shimmering in the trees, caught their eyes. Their investigation led them to a dead teenager hanging from a limb, a white bedsheet knotted tightly around his neck. A farewell note, laced with despair, was near the trunk of the tree. It was addressed simply to “Mom and Dad.”

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After the Avalanche, Part One

Job could write about wounds. His words were more than patronizing platitudes and armchair proverbs. He’d been there and back again. He could describe intense inner suffering in the first person because of his own sea of pain. Step into the time tunnel with me and let’s travel together back to Uz (not like the wizard of ___, but like the land of __).

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In Times of Suffering

This song of celebration, Psalm 149, is like a rallying cry, urging all of God’s people to praise the Lord regardless of their circumstances. That includes times when people aren’t naturally inclined to boast on God. Praise the Lord in Times of Suffering: For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation. Let the godly ones exult in glory; Let them sing for joy on their beds.

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Confessing Despair

In David’s dark song of depression, recorded as Psalm 142, the king confesses his deepest feelings of isolation and despair. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path. In the way where I walk they have hidden a trap for me. (142:3) David feels enveloped or wrapped up in his depression, so much so his spirit feels faint and feeble.

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An Abysmal Cave

Who hasn’t struggled with those demoralizing seasons of dark sadness? Everyone suffers from grief and sorrow from time to time. But depression is a different matter. Like a disease, it’s very common, but it’s not “normal.” Depression is an extended state of mind characterized by acute sadness that most likely will not go away by itself. It needs attention.

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Turning to God

The composer of Psalm 137 acknowledged the sorrow of his situation, recognizing that Judah had brought this chastisement upon themselves. But he didn’t stay in the doldrums. He turned from the past to focus on God’s unchangeable character, His faithfulness to fulfill promises, His desire to extend mercy with every opportunity. Finally, he turned his eyes to the horizon to anticipate the future.

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From the Depths to the Heights

In just a few verses, the songwriter of Psalm 116 has climbed from the utter depths of grief and sorrow to the heights of praising God. His journey undoubtedly took many months, however. The song merely recounts his ordeal. While his praising God marks the pinnacle of his climb, it also appears to be his means of getting there. He didn’t wait until he felt better before giving the Lord praise.

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A Song of Deliverance

The psalmist’s lament in Psalm 116 expresses reasons to love the Lord despite the soul-crushing burden of grief and sorrow. Because He Cares for Me. Return to your rest, O my soul, For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. (116:7) Look at that! The words “dealt bountifully” are a translation of the Hebrew gamal, which means “to deal fully and completely” with something or someone. Frequently, it suggests the idea of “rewarding.”

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A Song of Sadness

Psalm 116 is the lament of a man surrounded by grief and sorrow, most likely because death has touched his life. Let’s take a few moments to probe a little deeper into a song of sadness. The first line of the psalmist’s song is surprising. He writes, “I love the LORD, because . . . ” (116:1). In the nineteenth century, a young English girl, Elizabeth Barrett, suffered a spinal injury at age fifteen that left her a semi-invalid for many years.

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