Trauma is a terrible thing. It reaches deep into the resources of the soul and damages everything that it touches. Only now are we beginning to understand the effects of trauma as we help soldiers returning from war, but trauma isn’t something new. We have been battling trauma on the domestic front for years. Even though many lives have been destroyed by it, there is hope.
Hope for those traumatized can be provided by those whom they can trust. Please let me illustrate. This morning I woke up to the sound of rain. I looked next to the bed and sure enough, the Shepherd was under the chair. Our rescue had been traumatized by gun shots, being hit by a car and taunted by passers by as he remained tied to a fence with a broken hip. It doesn’t take much to trigger fears and even reenactments. So while he was terrified to go outside and do his morning business because of rain and the potential for thunder, I went out into the yard and called him to me. As he approached, I gave him the repeated rhythmic shsh, shsh, shsh, shsh, shshshshshshsh that I give to soothe him when he is overcome with anxiety. He recognized my call of caring and came next to me. He practically knocked me over to get close enough to feel safe.
Jesus provides the same type of care. He recognizes our fears and calls us to him. As we hear his voice and get close to him, he provides comfort and security. The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1b). In this verse, the Psalmist declares that the Lord is his defense or fortified place. He was that for him and he wants to be the same for you. Will you hear his call? Will you run to him for comfort and security? He is waiting and ready to aid you in your trauma.
Yesterday in celebration of our nation’s birth, public and private fireworks were displayed. For most, it was a wonderful time of celebration ending with multiple oohs and aaahs. However for some it was not so pleasant.
Trauma never takes a holiday. While some were rejoicing, others were not. As some may know, my family rescued a German Shepherd with a laundry list of phobias. While aiding him through most of the night, I learned some distinct lessons about my relationship with God.
While trembling in terror, my family provided support and our presence to him. Calming words, hugs, and a makeshift place for him to hide provided the strength that he needed. When firecrackers, M80s and the neighborhood fireworks went off, we quickly responded with “It’s okay, Duke. Everything is okay.” When he responded positively, we lauded him with praise. This went on until at least midnight, with most of the overnight hours spent transitioning him back to functioning independently.
This morning, Duke came close to me. He gently licked me–which I really can’t stand–and snuggled his head into my chest. I patted him on the side and gently spoke about how brave he was and that he was a good boy. It was then that it hit me. As this dog bonds closets to me after times of trials, I too bond closest to God after the same. As I shared words of praise for his bravery, God does the same with me for my faith. What draws the dog closest to me are situations greater than he can bear. What draws me closest to God are not blessings, but situations greater that I can bear.
In the end, I learned that the best way for me to know God will not come from books, sermons or bible studies, but from trials and his presence in the midst of them.