The effects of trauma can be devastating. I know. I know it from my own experience, and also from the countless stories of others. For believers, trauma can become a faith crisis, as we wonder how a loving and sovereign God can allow his children to suffer various tragedies that no one should ever have to experience. Where do we go to find answers to these deep questions that arise. We have a strong tendency to minimize or deny the incidents of trauma and their effects among us. It’s so much easier to ignore or to even refuse to believe it – because if we do – our benevolent worldview might be shaken. We’d rather not deal with the resulting intense emotions and messy outcomes.
The consequences for ignoring or denying the results of trauma are serious. Those who have suffered trauma can be re-traumatized and marginalized by the response – or lack of response – from their own congregations.
What if, instead of turning away, congregations acknowledged trauma as real – and not uncommon? What if we faced trauma head on and allowed the Lord into that space? Our God is a redeeming God. He is able to bring healing and wholeness to even the most devastating situations. I know. I know it from my own experience, and also from the countless stories of others. When we don’t acknowledge the brokenness, we also don’t get to see God’s redeeming power at work. One web-based organization, designed to assist families of faith impacted by abuse (theraveproject.com), features the story of a stained glass window, which tells of how shards of glass from a broken window are re-designed into a new stained glass window, one with a different picture. I love the image as a reminder of the power of God, to take what’s been shattered by trauma, and create something new and beautiful, something that reflects his glory.
The Church has unique assets to promote such deep healing, not least of which is the very presence of the Lord in our midst. When the church is a caring community of people, infused with the gentleness of the Holy Spirit and the strong love of God, it’s hard to imagine a better context for trauma recovery.
The American Bible Society’s Trauma Healing Institute uses applied Scripture and mental health principles to address spiritual and emotional wounds caused by trauma. This proven model, outlined in the book, Healing the Wounds of Trauma: How the Church Can Help, has been effectively used in over 50 countries – and it’s soon to come to Grand Rapids, MI. This 3-day initial equipping session, sponsored by World Renew and CRC Safe Church Ministry, will take place from 8:30-5:00 February 1-3 at the CRCNA denominational offices. $100 U.S. covers all materials and lunches each day. The event is sponsored by World Renew and Safe Church Ministry. Find out more and register for the Trauma Healing event here, or for more information, contact [email protected]