Trauma. It’s sometimes as fast as lightning—a car careening, a gunshot echoing. Other times it’s a slow burn—repeated abuse or manipulation leaving us feeling out of control, ill-equipped, unsafe, or all the above.
But trauma always takes us by surprise. Something devastating happens, and we can’t stop it. But there are things we can do after the trauma, ways we can help ourselves heal.
The American Psychological Association lists four ways to overcome trauma:
- Lean on your loved ones
- Face your feelings
- Prioritize self-care
- Be patient
This list looks like it came straight from Scripture. What God has known all along, science is catching up to.
1. Lean on your loved ones
God provides community and His very presence we can lean onto so that we can heal from trauma.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into a fiery furnace. But God didn’t let them face this trauma alone; He gave them each other. Then God Himself showed up in that furnace to save them (Daniel 3:1–27).
The disciples didn’t have to deal with the tragic execution of Jesus—their hope, teacher, and leader—alone. Jesus gave them each other. Then Jesus Himself appeared to comfort them with the incredible life-giving news of His resurrection (John 20:19–23).
God does the same for us. He puts people in our lives who can help us through traumatic events. They might be family, friends, a community group, a counselor, a pastor, or neighbors, but God won’t leave you stranded. Plus, God Himself will stand by your side. Jesus promises to be with us even until the end of time (Matthew 28:20). He surrounds us with His love and the love of others, so we don’t have to handle trauma alone.
2. Face your feelings.
The author of Psalm 42 writes, “My heart is breaking. Why am I so discouraged? Why is my heart so sad (vv. 4 – 5 NLT)?”
A few chapters later, David cries out, “I am weary from distress (Psalm 57:6 NLT).”
These psalmists called out to God, telling Him their deepest pain, asking why things were so bad, expressing all their feelings. And God rescued them, healed them, and protected them.
In Psalm 73, the author cries out in desperation, “My heart was bitter, and I was torn up inside (v. 21 NLT).” But later in the same psalm, the writer says, “I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny (vv. 23 – 24).”
God doesn’t want us to dismiss or hide our feelings. When we tell God how we feel, He holds our hands, counsels us, and leads us to glorious futures.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus tells a story of a traveling man being abducted. A Samaritan man comes along, bandages the man, and takes him to an inn. The Samaritan cared for the man’s physical needs (Luke 10:30–35). Jesus highlights this as what the traumatized man needed most: medicine, food, rest. This is what loving our neighbor looks like.
If you’ve experienced trauma, you may have to take many steps toward healing, but today you can start by loving yourself. Are you getting rest? Eating well? If not, take some steps to do so. Self-care is integral to restoration.
I want the memories of my personal trauma to be gone, the nightmares and startling to no longer be part of my life. And I’d like it now, thank you very much.
But it. Is. A. Process. That’s okay. Jesus is at work in the process. Ask Jairus, a synagogue leader who begged Jesus to heal his sick daughter. While Jairus found Jesus, talked to Jesus, and waited while Jesus performed another miracle, the girl died. This was traumatic. The death of a child always is. Even though everyone had given up, Jesus told
them, “Don’t be afraid. Just believe” (Mark 5:36 NIV). Then Jesus traveled to the girl, grabbed her hand, and raised her to life.
Would Jairus and his family have preferred Jesus to move more quickly? Of course. But Jesus’ timing is different. Not so the girl, or you, or I would suffer, but so that Christ’s power, glory, and love can be displayed.
Oh, and that “other miracle” Jesus performed that delayed His arrival to Jairus’ house? Jesus stopped to heal and redeem a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. Twelve years of feeling weak and depleted, being considered “unclean” by her society, being an outcast. Twelve desperate years. And then Jesus changed it all.
Whatever you are in dealing with your trauma, be patient. Don’t be afraid, just believe. Jesus’ timing is not our timing, but He is coming, and He wants to resurrect the parts of you that feel broken, damaged, frightened, or dark. He’ll take your hand, bring you to your feet, and stop your bleeding. That’s who our Savior is. He’s a resurrection God.
If you’ve experienced trauma, lean into God and the people He puts in your life. Feel your feelings. Take care of yourself, and give yourself time. Jesus promises to be with you every step of the way. He loves you and longs to restore your soul.
About the Author
Laura L. Smith is a popular speaker and best-selling author who has written nonfiction books for adults, pre-teens and kids, as well as the popular Status Updates fiction series for young adults. She lives in the picturesque college town of Oxford, Ohio, with her husband and four kids. There you’ll find her running the wooded trails, strolling the brick streets, teaching Bible study, shopping at the Saturday morning farmer’s market, or going on a sunset walk with her family.