You’ve heard, more than once, the term PTSD. How about PTSG?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is an absolute reality in today’s society encountered most frequently by our military and our first responders. We cannot, however, name a disorder and add it to the Big Book of Mental Boo-boos without at least proposing a treatment. (The Big Book of Mental Boo-boos is a name which I adapted from ‘Doc McStuffin’s (1) and her Big Book of Boo-Boos which she encounters among her stuffed animals and toys which come alive when in the presence of her charmed stethoscope.) A disorder without a qualified treatment is madness in its own right. Sadly, many seem to be a ‘work-in-progress’.
What if the treatment is not a treatment for PTSD but is better defined as an effect of certain stimuli under circumstances including the DSM-5 description for precursors to PTSD. However, with the inclusion of an additional stimulus, specifically the presence of God’s grace, what was a path to a disorder becomes instead a path toward growth.
Granted, the American Psychological Association (APA) does not recognize as a legitimate treatment option the inclusion of grace by the Holy Spirit. Just because the APA says it isn’t so, doesn’t necessary mean it isn’t so!
The inclusion into the symptomatic timeline for a patient experiencing PTSG runs parallel to that of one with PTSD. But the latter stops short of effecting any real change. Some who do not recognize the work of the Holy Spirit may call the work by different names. It may be listed as resiliency, ‘sand’, personal motivation, inner strength, pulling one’s self up by the bootstraps or many others. Still, there is within the patient who presents with the symptoms of PTSD according to trained observers, an uncommon valor, an inner personal fortitude, a faith is that ingredient in the mix of symptoms that separates those with PTSD and others who exhibit the propensity to not just healing from their psychological trauma, but growing. They are gaining psychological strength from their response to the trauma.
The bumper sticker wisdom of ‘that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger’ is not necessarily true. In biblical parlance we would say it is a proverb not a promise.
The Proverbs is a book of wisdom literature that are generally true but they are not biblical promises. The proverb, “Train up a child in the way in which he should grow, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (2) Proverbs 22:6 is biblical wisdom, a proverb, a statement that is generally true but not a promise which is guaranteed. “for whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”(3) Romans 10:13 is a statement written by the Apostle Paul to the church at Rome. It is a PROMISE. It can be trusted as true one-hundred-percent of the time.
So, that which does not kill us does not ALWAYS make us stronger. Sometimes it leaves us wasted, completely spent with no reserves and no amount of medication will change it. It could be argued that, in such a case it has ‘killed us’ because it has made it impossible for us to grow stronger, sometimes even to function. Microscopic hair-splitting aside, if at the end of the pain there is still a person physically alive, then the bumper sticker is wrong at least some of the time. Since it was Nietzsche that first coined the phrase, and he was wrong about a LOT of stuff, it comes as no surprise. He claimed God is dead… he had a bit of a shock coming to him!
The growth garnered by those who know the Holy Spirit, who are saved by God’s grace and the blood of Christ can experience the growth in which God uses the pain and suffering of the trauma and the post trauma stressors to help the patient understand a new strength within himself. Reliance on the work of the Holy Spirit within and alongside our own human spirit is what will most effectively bring about growth.
This is not a medicine wagon sideshow huckster remedy. This is visible, measurable growth. I strongly urge you; no, I beg you, if you are facing PTSD alone or with family, pray God to allow you to know the life-changing growth which can occur only in the light of the Son.