“They were terrified!”
Family members had been murdered.
Loved ones had also been killed. They witnessed horrors.
They had CONSTANTLY lived in fear. Better yet, the EXISTED IN SURVIVAL MODE.
Would they always be checking their shoulders… in fear of attack?
The breeding ground of PTSD.
The clues that point clearly to PTSD in the pages of God’s Word are:
#1- The woman were terrified. Luke 24:5 NASB [bewildered, terror, dread, astonishment, trembling, confused, their heads swimming, fled, gripped with fear- other translations and versions of this verse recounting the point in the resurrection story of Jesus Christ when Mary Magdalene and Mary, mother of James, found the tomb empty.]
And #2 – they couldn’t reason. Luke 24:6-7 Their brain could not make sense out of their reality. They did not have access to frontal lobe of the brain where logical and executive thinking happens. These symptoms experienced after incredible trauma describe PTSD. (Technically the symptoms last longer than a month for PTSD. This is acute trauma.. But not so “cute”! Lol.)
Identical to the injury some soldiers come home with from war, people develop PTSD from many different types of trauma with varying levels of intensity in symptoms. Currently, it is completely unknown as to why some soldiers develop PTSD while many others do not. Recently, reading a article about factors that lead to the possible onset of PTSD went something like this: the person had been hurt. If a identifiable personality type or a previous hardship could help predict PTSD, our nation would pour massive amounts of dinero into a diagnostic tool. Finding those who are most likely to be chronically stressed and preparing them ahead of time would relieve the incredibly burgeoning halls of VA hospitals across America.
So back to our Marys – apparently a very common name in Israel. These women had served on the battlefield… As followers of Christ. This intrinsically meant trauma in the time of Jesus’ ministry. The persecution of the early Christians is well-documented in and out of the Bible. Tied to a stake, lit on fire, and used as a torch, Christians were the “light” source for banquets of depravity. They were the LIGHT in the DARKNESS. [SIDE NOTE: A person willing to die for his beliefs is a TRUE believer – ya think? Yeah, I reckon. Humans, by definition, are self-centered. No one says, “Yeah, I like this churchy, Christian thingy. And Jesus is a pretty cool dude. So since I’ve got nothing better to do tonight, I don’t mind being set of fire!” Mary had been living through a literal hell on earth. I’d say her stress level was “up there”! From the gospel of Luke, our doctor mentions the ladies mental health at the time of finding Jesus not in the tomb. He says, “they were terrified”. Luke then speaks of the best coping skill humanity has been given,…”but then they remembered what He had said.” Luke 24:8
There in lies a sweet ticket to stability. When God’s words (everything in the Bible), collides with your fear-stricken heart and you do the exhausting work to override the natural physiological workings of the hijacked and terrified brain, the victim can move to survivor mode! God holds the answer. Because He has power over everything. No longer is it just my own will power struggling to believe I am loved and SAFE and not insane. I have tapped into the power of the ONE who created everything. He has ultimate authority. And frankly we are most often powerless in the face of horror.
With grace and mercy, the Prince of Peace can and does offer the remedy to root issue. There really is danger in this world but we aren’t alone. We have witnessed unspeakable acts of violence. We have been abused in incomprehensible ways. We have had normal overtaken by trauma. Yet He holds us on the palm of His hand. PROTECTED. Our fears can be calmed. It takes faith in HIS POWER and the commitment to do the WORK.
What is the work you ask? It is an effort put forth. It is INCREDIBLY harder than physical labor. That’s easy-peasy compared to battling the intrusive thoughts of a PTSD brain. When in danger, you naturally want to fight for your life – or run to somewhere safe! Or you just freeze because of sheer terror. I tend to go into flight mode first. But if I can’t run, it’s 50/50 as to whether it’s “fight, flight or freeze”. In freeze mode, I just cease to acknowledge the situation. I disassociated. You can talk to me. And I hear your words you’re saying but they hold zero meaning to me. You could warn me of a serious threat or promise me a million dollars if I were to say the word “green”. Either way, I would remain unresponsive. It’s not actually my volitional attempt to ignore you. Simply, it’s the brain’s response to the very bad designed for our very good. So talk all you want. I am currently out of commission.
Housed within the skull is a greatly underused organ with massive potential. Research says we use under 10% of the brain’s capabilities. It’s actually cool to learn about the brain. The functions of each part – frontal lobe, amygdala, brain stem, neurons… And my education relieves me of the stress that I am at fault or that I am bad because I have a mental illness. I am not to blame. (PS – PTSD peeps- You are not to blame.)
I have experienced a trauma that altered the way my cerebral stuff interacts with the world. I am not to blame but I do have to do the work. For myself, for those I love, and for the sake of Christ, I am determined to choose well. I care about myself and I care about others. I care foremost about my testimony as a Christian. God has adopted me from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. He has promised my eternal life. He died to secure my eternal home in heaven. I am loved.
So for His name’s sake, I WILL fight against the intrusive thoughts that REPEAT over and over:
- RUN LIKE [BLEEEEP], OR
- LOCATE ALL POSSIBLE ESCAPE ROUTES, AND
- DON’T IMAGINE OR FANTASIZE YOU ARE LOVED, SO
- PUT YOURSELF FIRST! (above your kids and husband who really do love you).
I choose to muster all my will and by God’s strength, kindness, and mercy, I manage to believe what God’s Word tells me is TRUTH. I listen to REALITY from the creator of my brain. I don’t listen to the lies that trauma tells. My feelings are often wrong after PTSD.
- I FEEL COMPLETELY ABANDONED.
- I FEEL UNWORTHY OF LOVE.
- I FEEL TERRIFIED.
Just like Mary did when she found another loved one brutally crucified, a crown of thorns were jammed on his head, his hands and side pierced, nailed to a wooden cross of humiliation, and placed in a tomb. She was TERRIFIED.
“And then they [she]remembered that he had said this…” [THE TRUTH – HIS WORD – THE BIBLE]
“And then she remembered that HE had said this…” [THE TRUTH – what God has provided as a source of help for all dealing and coping with mental health issues.]
“And then they remembered that HE HAD SAID THIS…” [Jesus’ words give the greatest relief and help in every situation especially stress and trauma.
EVEN COPING SKILLS FOR PTSD ARE IN THE BIBLE.
THANK YOU GOD. YOU ARE GOOD. YOU HAVE ALLOWED TRAUMA IN MY LIFE FOR COMPLETELY UNKNOWN REASONS BUT I TRUST IN YOUR GOODNESS. YOU SAY YOU ARE WORKING ALL THINGS FOR MY GOOD SO THIS SEASON OF REALLY HARD MUST BE GOOD FOR ME. THOUGH I CAN NOT SEE IT NOW, I HAVE FAITH IN YOU ALONE TO RESTORE ME TO STABILITY. I can’t do it. I am so happy to trust that you can. Thank you for the revelation of yourself to me- and anyone who wants to read the Bible. The lies are my distorted thoughts and feelings about the crap I have been through. The truth is God’s Word.
And His word says I am loved, secure, and protected forever.