The world is full of hurt, disappointments, fear, anxiety, depression, and the list goes on. I write this devotional today with a heavy heart from personal experience’s with the mentioned emotions in my own life and those that I love.
The struggle is real, the hurt is deep, and the fears can be paralyzing.
Depression, anxiety, fearful and negative thoughts plague us daily and are growing during this season of the pandemic. We are under attack physically, mentally, and emotionally. Many are feeling more disconnected today than ever before.
These are attacks from our enemy- satan- the author of lies and the father of it. The enemy that only comes to kill, steal, and destroy every aspect of our life and keep us from fulfillment in God’s purpose for our life.
God has already defeated the enemy. We can cry out to Him for help and He WILL rescue us.
We are not alone and do not have to face these difficult times alone– God is near to the brokenhearted!
Psalm 34:18 NIV The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 142:6 NIV Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.
I want to encourage each person that may be facing difficult times and emotions to reach out– Talk with a loved one, a doctor, a friend, or myself (firstname.lastname@example.org)– just please ask for help. My heart is breaking for all those that are lost and are struggling alone.
YOU ARE LOVED!
YOU HAVE GREAT PURPOSE!
YOU ARE NOT ALONE– GOD IS ALWAYS WITH YOU, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU DO NOT FEEL IT!
It is okay to not be okay. It shows strength and courage to seek help with your struggles especially those that are emotional and mental.
Trying to battle the feelings, thoughts, and attacks alone will only feed into the already difficult circumstances. Our enemy plants lies in our mind when we are aimlessly wandering in our thoughts– these seemingly small seeds can quickly grow into deep rooted beliefs about ourselves and our circumstances. Starting as a single negative thought then quickly spiraling into a playground of negativity and lies in our mind for satan to torture us and attempt to keep us chained by the lies, out of God’s will, and bound by our feelings.
Seeking help and facing our feelings along with the trauma that caused them is not easy, but it is necessary for total healing and freedom. Although learning to navigate through these seemingly never ending cycles of hurt, depression, and downward spirals of negativity is hard; it is possible.
God’s word tells us that He can take the impossible and make it possible– through Him ALL things are possible! (Matthew 19:26)
Take a stand for yourself and your future. Step up and step out. Admit that we are weak but He is strong. Hand each emotion, traumatic event, worry, fear, anxiety over to Him and let God do the work in you and for you.
It may seem hard to believe in the midst of the storm but God will help you through deep waters, He will comfort you, He will protect you, and He will save you from your despair. He did it for me and He can do it for you too!
Thank you Lord for Your Word and Your comfort in times of trouble. Thank you for the promises to never leave us nor forsake. For always being near to those of us who are brokenhearted and struggling with life’s storms. Lord God I pray that Your message be heard through these words. I pray You will be a light to so many during this dark season. I pray that those who are battling depression, fear, anxiety, and hurts from this broken world would turn to You. Soften their hearts, open their eyes and ears to Your truth. Lead each of us and protect us from the schemes and lies of the enemy. I declare in the name of Jesus chains be broken, people be truly freed in You, and that you will transform each one of us with the renewal of our minds through Your truth, grace, and love. In Jesus mighty name I pray.
We all experience events in life that are less than ideal. However, some events that people experience the pain and hurt goes much deeper than just the surface. Likely, we have all known someone that has been through a horrible loss or survived a difficult situation. When an event is so terrible that the pain and hurt cuts deep into our souls this is what counselor’s call trauma. Those who have had traumatic events happen in their life need help healing the wounds it caused. When healing is not sought after or completed for those that experienced the trauma– they are likely to grow up and damage others, including their own families.
There are two types of trauma– invasion trauma and abandonment trauma.
Invasion trauma is something that did happen to a person and caused damage.
Abandonment trauma is when something did NOT happen to a person that creates damage. (feeling unloved, not protected, or nurtured)
Both affect the four aspects of people’s lives: emotional, physical, sexual, and spiritual.
Emotional Invasion- when people feel criticized, shamed, or blamed verbally or nonverbally. It occurs when people are talked out of their feelings–‘Big girls don’t cry’ or ‘Christians don’t feel that way’. It can also occur when an adult authority figure reverses roles leaving the child to be a caregiver instead of receiving.
Physical Invasion- when someone is abused physically. This type of invasion can cause permanent physical damage. The emotional affect of this can also be experienced if someone lives in a home in which someone else is being physically abused.
Sexual Invasion- is when a person is touched or penetrated in sexual areas outside of a mutual relationship or marriage. This is a broad description as a person having consensual sex outside of God’s Plan can have traumatizing effects as well. This type of invasion can also occur if someone is teased or criticized about their bodies..
Spiritual Invasion- when a person is led to believe they are unworthy of God’s love and grace, even if well intended it could result in shame that many people can’t seem to shake.
Emotional abandonment- occurs when love, attention, care, nurture, and affirmation are not given. Resulting in loneliness.
Physical abandonment- happens when a person’s needs for food, shelter, and clothing are not met. People who do not receive positive ‘touch’- cuddles and hugs- can form what is called ‘touch deprivation’ Another form can happen when people do not receive the needed information for healthy physical self- care.
Sexual abandonment- occurs when parents or other responsible adults do not teach their children about healthy sexuality, not having the correct information can lead to devastating results.
Spiritual abandonment- occurs when healthy spiritual teachings are not available to children.
Sometimes in life the above categories can overlap. Damage in one part of a persons life can carry over to other areas, depending on the situation that caused the damage.
Effects of Trauma
Unhealed trauma can lead to symptoms like anxiety, depression, panic disorders, anger, loneliness, attachment disorders, and addictions of all kinds. Panic, anxiety, flashbacks, and anger sometimes are classified as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Trauma survivors can cope in a variety of ways- regardless if the trauma is remembered or not. Some may subconsciously seek to repeat the trauma in their adult lives, in attempt to have a different outcome. Some will create relationships with people who treat them poorly or some go the opposite way, and avoid and person or group of people who trigger their past memories of the trauma.
Trauma survivors need a number of things to recover from the trauma experienced
to have an education on the nature of the trauma- sometimes denial will need to be faced
need to have someone to listen that is comforting, accepting, and non-judgmental- someone that believes them and offers them hope of healing
need help in expressing their anger about their trauma- anger with the perpetrator and possibly God too. Education on how a loving God would allow trauma to happen could be helpful.
assistance on how to grieve the losses that the trauma has caused in their life
to understand that they did not deserve what happened to them and that they certainly did NOT cause it
assistance on developing boundaries so that the will not be further harmed in old, new, or existing relationships
to see the positive strengths that resulted from the trauma endured and the healing process
to find a way to forgive (the ultimate spiritual victory)- forgive the perpetrator, forgive themselves, and ask God to forgive them both
What the Bible says about trauma
Being a Christian does not guarantee you a pain free life. Sometimes our faith exposes us to difficulties and struggles we would not otherwise have been through. Here are a few note worthy things to know about life’s traumas:
Suffering is not always a punishment. God does allow people to suffer the consequences for their sinful choices, but that does not mean that every time we suffer it is because we are being punished. God uses suffering to strengthen us– to give us knowledge and life experience so that we can empathize with others– to shake us up when we are stagnant or losing our way– and sometimes God uses suffering to build our trust in Him.
46 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn. 6 The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has made desolations in the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire.
10 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
11 The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge
The key is to realize God does NOT leave us when we are suffering.
Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
God will reward us for the suffering that we endure for His sake
Matthew 5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
God will heal you and bind up your wounds.
Psalm 147:2-3 2 The Lord builds up Jerusalem; He gathers together the outcasts of Israel. 3 He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.
Psalm 107:20 20 He sent His word and healed them, And delivered them from their destructions.
God adopts us into His family- we are never truly alone
Psalm 27:10 10 When my father and my mother forsake me, Then the Lord will take care of me.
God will direct our paths, if we trust in Him and not our own ways.
Proverbs 3:5-8 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil 8 It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.
True healing and trust in God comes when we can look at our trauma from a different perspective. Learning to ask what can I learn or how can I grow from this instead of asking why me.
God does not always remove us from the traumatic situation but He does always help us through. He is our strength, when we are weak; He is near to the brokenhearted; and He will never leave us nor forsake us. If we trust in Him, He will heal us and deliver us from our shame, our guilt, and all other fleshly feelings that bind us.
Seek His truth and a relationship with Him and He will set you free!
Notes from Mark Laaser on healing the wounds that bind you
Thank you Lord for Your safety and protection throughout all difficulties that we face in life. Lord I pray that each person who reads this and has experienced trauma and it has had a lasting effect on the their life, would find freedom and hope in this message. Forgive me for running from You and blaming You instead of trusting in You and seeking Your guidance. Lord I pray You would work in each of their lives and bring peace through You so that they will glorify Your kingdom. Touch each heart and be their strength to seek healing in You. Lord, I pray that each person would find forgiveness in their hearts for themselves and those who have hurt them. I pray that you would give them discernment in their thoughts and feelings, that they would know who they are in You and not fall prey to the lies of Satan. I pray every chain from the trauma in life that has bound us would be broke in the name of Jesus. Lord, teach us how to trust in You, guide our steps, and help us to not lean on our own understanding, but seek healing and answers through you. It is in Jesus name I pray
The day my life changed and I truly started enjoying life, was when I realized that I was NOT living a life that counted. I woke up each day just to go through the motions. I was not enjoying my life, in fact I didn’t even like my life. I was miserable. I lived to please everyone besides God and myself. I did this for years! Not just with family but significant others and friends too! Everyone and everything came before God and my own well being. This led to being used, abused, and all around taken advantage of. I was a people pleaser and lived for the acceptance and love of others.
I felt as if my value came from others as if pleasing them was the only way I was “happy” with myself. After years of disappoinment, hurt, and the feeling of utter failure, I began to accept that some people will NEVER be pleased. My value and worth does not come from them but from God. He created us each differently with a purpose and plan in mind. We are all wonderfully and perfectly made with our own gifts, trials, and triumphs!
Just as we have a birth certificate we also will have a death certificate. On our headstone there will be a birthdate and a death date along with a little dash in between- the dash is what it is all about. The dash represents the life you lived while on Earth, the dash is what people remember about you and your life, and most importantly what God holds you accountable for.
Romans 14:12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.
Life is but a mist, a fast runner, a breath, a wisp of smoke, a shadow, here today gone tomorrow — these are all metaphors used to describe life in the Bible. Think about that for a minute, let it really sink in, our days are numbered and our time on Earth is limited. We have to understand and accept that some day we are going to die and it’s the choices and life we live during our time here that counts.
Knowing and accepting our time here is limited causes us to examine and alter what our actual priorites are. Knowing the end of something is coming, changes how we approach what is happening in the present. In a way we are all terminal once we are born but if we choose to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior we have eternal life- not here on Earth- but in Heaven. Now that is something to be excited about!
We need to be thinking more about eternity now- I mean afterall we will spend more time there then our short lived life here on Earth. Our residency on Earth is temporary- what happens after we die is eternal.
1 Peter 1:17- If you address as Father, the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in [reverent] fear [of Him] and with profound respect for Him throughout the time of your stay on earth.
Things in this world are temporary and can never truly fulfill us. A realtionship with Jesus will, you will find peace beyond understanding, find joy in each day, and learn to love the life you live as you fulfill your purpose. Celebrate each day as the gift it is from God. Wake up believing it is imporant to live today and that there will never be another day like today.
Being “full of the world” is where waking up stressed out, overwhelmed, worried, and full of anxiety comes from. Because we are human- we often try to control cirumtances that are out of our control. We should be handing over each need, worry, and situation to God.
As we begin to invest our time into forming a realtionship with God, we will begin to feel and see the changes in our life. God isn’t in the business of knocking you out and waking you up changed. As if it were some surgery being performed. He is more the- here is the anestisia- enough to get you through but you are still awake and aware of what is happening. In fact, it is a process that you have to continually agree to as if you are “signing off” as you go. Everything in life is based on the freedom of choice.
We should be living a life with a sense of urgency. The word someday is so damaging as it robs us of today. Someday I will go to church. Someday I will finish school. Someday I will chase that dream. Why not today? We should have a set of priorities that help us stay on track and know where to properly invest our time. We need not live in a “frantic life” but one that is properly prioritized to ensure a happy, healthy, and eternally beneficial. We often hear the phrase Invest in your future- I encourage you to think deeper and invest in your eternity.
Your enemy- the devil- may know he can’t make you do “bad things” but he can make you “busy” with a set of mixed up priorities and a “someday” attitude. Causing you to be too busy to think about eternity.
I ask you today are you living a life you love? A purposeful, joyful, fulfilling life- one that you will be proud to stand before our Lord and Savior and take accountability for? Are you making your time on Earth count?
We are not designed or intended to live in shame, worry, anxiety, or fear. I encourage you to evaulate your priorities and make time for a realtionship with God. Seek Him above all things, look to Him for direction, wisdom, and clarity, ask God to provide your needs and desires. Find your purpose and make “the dash” of life count!
Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Jeremiah 29:11-14 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NKJV) Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord. 8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the rives, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.
Did you know the most important part of a tree is its’ roots? This is because the roots are what absorbs the water and nutrients and anchors the tree to stand up-right.
I would like to illustrate the similarities in the importance of the roots of a tree that can stand strong and withstand storms of all kinds and the roots in our life to form an inner tree of faith, hope, and strength, so that we may be prepared when the storms of life come crashing down on us.
In the photo of the tree, you can see that there are lots of roots, covering a lot of ground spreading as wide below, as the tree above the ground; this is what nurtures the tree and makes it grow and stand strong. The stronger and more established the roots are; the bigger, stronger, and more fruitful the tree becomes.
Great! I’m getting a lesson on tree structure, not really what I was hoping to read in this post.. Not quite.. Stay with me here…
Let me break down the tree structure in comparison to our daily lives and character make-up. Let me show you how important it is to be rooted in the Word of God, so that when the storms of life coming roaring through, you can stand strong, just like a tree that’s planted by the water, you shall NOT be moved!
Roots: Your inner being, what you put your faith, hope, and time into. Is it God and His Word? Something of good substance that rings true and is the same today, tomorrow, and always, the promises from our Father, God?
Hebrews 13:8-9 (NKJV) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9 Do not be carried about with various strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.
Or is it your own views, rules, and made up morals based on a worldly view of your life experiences; things you have been through, people who have hurt you, lost dreams/goals, experiences that did not go as YOU had thought they should?
Proverbs 3:5-8 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. 8 It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.
Tree roots are what hold the tree up-right.
Trunk: Your body and soul, your human existence, your literal being, your identification, the part of you that goes through the day to day motions of life.
Colossians 3:1-2 (NKJV) If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
The trunk is the stem and main axis of a tree, which is an important feature in tree identification, and which often differs markedly from the bottom of the trunk to the top, depending on the species.
The trunk of the tree changes as it grows, and is only as strong as the roots holding it up-right.
Branches: Your trials and triumphs, your difficulties and blessings, your pain and joy; and all that this life brings to you.
John 16:33 (NKJV): These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
James 1:2-4 (NKJV) My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
Tree branches will grow to give the most leaves the most light, even if that means growing sideways.
Jeremiah 29:11- For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and hope.
Seeds, Fruit, Flowers, Leaves: What a tree produces and how much, depends on your choices in life and how well you maintain a good set of roots as you grow. This applies to trees in nature and the metaphoric tree that makes up your life that I speak of in this article.
Matthew 7:15-20 (NKJV)- “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
So what does all of this mean?
Trees need wind and storms to blow through to nourish them, help them grow stronger and deepen their roots. Which then in turn causes the tree to grow larger and become even more beautiful and purposeful. This is much like our own character and spiritual life.
The roots are what beliefs, morals, habits, practices, thoughts, and everything in between that goes in to you, what you turn to in times of trouble. If you have strong, well maintained roots when a storm comes, you will not be shaken. Instead, the storm will strengthen you and bring to life new and purposeful fruit. Your branches and trunk will be strong and used for many things. Just as a tree branch can provide shade on a sunny day, nesting for birds, and oxygen; your unfortunate life circumstances can be used for good; to help someone else in a time of need, lead others to a relationship with Christ, or even to teach others of the need to strengthen their roots; just to name a few.
Matthew 19:26 (NKJV) But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
However, if a tree is not properly cared for or is exposed to elements out of its’ control the tree will not take root or the existing roots will begin to dry out and die. This of course weakens the entire being of the tree. Then when wind and storms come roaring through the tree will sway from side to side, unable to withstand the storm, branches begin cracking off, bark begins peeling, and eventually the right storm comes through and completely up-roots and destroys the tree all together.
Jeremiah 17:5-6: Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man And make flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the Lord. 6 For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, And shall not see when good comes, But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, In a salt land which is not inhabited.
No matter if your currently standing strong and anchored with roots in God’s Word or if you stand today swaying side to side, waiting for the next storm to be the one that completely destroys you. There is hope you can strengthen your roots in God, the one whom sustains us.
II Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV) And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Before we explore tips on strengthening the roots in which we stand, lets take time to reflect on what we have went over so far.
Take time to reflect and analyze your “roots”. Be honest with yourself and God.
As you stand today when a storm arises, what is your first response?
Do you open a Bible or seek God’s direction? Or do you run to your nearest friend and begin venting and gossiping, do you search for your own answers for the “quick fix”, maybe you run to things that make it even worse; drugs, alcohol, and unbiblical sex.
Think of a time recently that something went “wrong” or you had an unexpected event happen in your life. Got it? How did you react, what did you feel? Think about the event in detail from start to finish.
When wind and storms come do you embrace it and allow your roots to grow deeper by seeking God and His will? Believing that although this event or circumstance is not ideal something good will come of it. Do you branch out and look for the light no matter what? Even if it means going in a way in which you did not intend? Do you search for a way to use this new branch to provide light necessary for continued healthy growth, in order to produce great fruit. Or do you “throw in the towel”, sit and wonder why me, how can this happen, nothing ever goes my way, and on and on with the negative self-destructive thought process?
Thinking of that same event.. Looking back, how do you feel about the event/circumstance now? Do you believe you handled it well and “stood strong” in the wind or do you think the winds blew and you swayed side to side, barely holding on, hoping that it wasn’t the storm that finally destroyed you? Would you like to have reacted differently?
Good news! If you, up to this point in life, have been guilty of being part of the destruction of your own healthy roots you can make the choice to change that today! This is a process, take it from someone who is working through it themselves, it does not happen overnight. However, I am here to tell you that it works, as I continue to seek God and to establish strong roots in Him and His word, I continue to grow stronger in Him and am able to withstand the storms that come my way by relying on His promises and Truth as my roots that anchor me.
Here are some things that I do to help me keep my roots strong and growing:
Pray without ceasing (When you wake up.. pray, before you eat.. pray, before you make decisions.. pray, in all you do, pray)
Let Matthew 6:33 be stuck in your head at all time “Seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Try to spend at least 10-15 mins of quiet time with God each day. (praying, reading, writing, seeking whatever you choose)
Read the Bible.
Use note cards to memorize scripture (For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. II Corinthians 10:4-5)
Pray the Bible.
Give thanks to God in all you do and for all you have.
Celebrate the small victories as you grow and strengthen your roots. (Remember this is a process)
When the storm comes.. STOP! (Stop talking, stop acting, stop everything)
Pray, Pray, Pray!
As I wrap up this article I pray God uses this word to teach you something new, to help you grow in your relationship with Him, and to discover new ways of handling life’s storms. I pray you no longer wait for the storm to pass but learn to dance in the rain, as God brings you through each season in life. I pray you are rooted in His word and truth and that you would always seek first His kingdom. I pray you put your trust, hope, and faith in Him. That faith in God would be the anchor to your soul and hope for your future. May God bless you beyond your imagination and give you peace that surpasses all understanding. In Jesus name I pray.