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God is Vital in PTSD Treatment

By Dr. Karl Benzio MD

Page Overview

In the last section, we discussed treatment options, and the options we unlocked immediately target two spheres of who we are. Medications target our body, more specifically, our brain chemistry to help correct some of the disrupted circuitry from PTSD. Psychotherapy, mainly various forms of talk therapy, helps our mind function better to process past traumas and minimize the emotional disruption and cognitive distortions or misinformation the trauma can plant in our memory banks. In this section, we will unpack why it is important to address our spiritual sphere and how it is foundational and the most vital treatment aspect when treating people who struggle with the devastating symptoms of PTSD.

God’s 3 Great Assets for Healing PTSD

Our spiritual sphere is the unique and eternal part of who we are, making us different than all the other animals. Our spirit drives our desires, awareness, and our curiosity for the transcendent experiences or the supernatural world around us. Thankfully this pushes our pursuit to find the being with amazing power that created all we see around us. Our spirit also seeks the answers to why we are here, where we get our value, what is our purpose, what gives us meaning, what happens when we die, and why do events, especially evil ones, happen.

Our spiritual sphere, most importantly, is the source of the three most vital resources or assets we could ever possess for not just healing PTSD, but for succeeding in all aspects of life. These are:

  1. Our spirit allows us to connect and be in a relationship directly with God. Through faith in God’s gift to us of Jesus, then believing Jesus died for our sin to pay our penalty, the sin barrier between God and us is destroyed and we can have an unbreakable relationship with God forever, no matter what we do. Click here to learn more about living with God forever and enjoying eternal salvation. Our spirit is now alive!
  2. At the moment we believe in Jesus as our Savior and are saved as described above, God the Holy Spirit comes to live in us. So our spirit connects to and communicates directly with the Holy Spirit. We get not only the influence, power, and guidance of the Holy Spirit, but we also have the mind of Christ in us. This is incredible, but we have to learn how to yield to the Holy Spirit and not get in the way of the mind of Christ. Spiritual growth is our learning just these steps.
  3. With the Holy Spirit in us, and our spirit now awakened and alive, we have capacity to understand our Divine Creator’s instruction manual, the B.I.B.L.E., or the Best Instruction Book for Living Everyday. As we read the Bible, and grow in our faith in God, we will more fully understand His teachings and apply them to our life.

Our relationship with God, the Holy Spirit in us, and His teachings in the Bible provide the psycho-spiritual healing prescription for PTSD as well as any other psychological problem we struggle with. You see, when Jesus was experiencing trauma and adversity, it was His using the power of the Holy Spirit who came down upon Him, His ability to apply God’s instructions in the Bible, and His faith in and love for His Father that allowed Him to have peace, joy, and success in overcoming the pain and adversity of this world. We have the same 3 assets when we believe in Jesus as our Savior, and when we use them to their fullest advantage, we too can experience amazing victory over the hurts and traumas this chaotic and evil world attacks us with.

Spiritual PTSD: God Cures the Biggest Trauma Everyone Faces

Plain and simple, because of the sin in this world, we are contaminated. God is holy, pure, absolute righteousness. So we are all born separated from God, meaning our spirit is lost, not connected to God. This is by far the biggest trauma we will ever experience. Not only will this life be more difficult with no divine help to manage psychological struggles and spiritual confusion, but after we die, without God, we are hopeless, helpless, and bound for eternal suffering and despair.

When spiritually lost and before coming to God, PTSD symptoms occur like:

  • Re-experiencing – we often have guilty flashbacks or nightmares of past sins.
  • Avoidance – we often avoid conversations of God or going to church or being around people who talk about God.
  • Negative thoughts or feelings after trauma – we often think we are hopeless, fearful of death, can never be good enough, and God doesn’t love us or is angry with us.
  • Hyper-arousal or reactivity – we are trying to do many good things to make up for our sins, trying to prove to ourselves or God we are worthy.

But God does not leave us in our despair and sinful state. He provides answers, healing, and rescue from the penalty of our sin. Jesus’ death on the cross pays the price so we don’t have to, and Jesus’ resurrection shows the complete victory we all have over the power of sin and death. God also provides answers, healing, and rescue from the troubles of this world through His guidance, the Holy Spirit, and the instruction of the Bible.

God loves us so much and was willing to go through so much trouble to send His only Son, and Jesus was willing to leave His throne in Heaven, become a lowly human baby, be a poor carpenter, endure ridicule and torture, die a horrific physical death on the cross, and be separated from His father for 3 tortuous hours while being judged for all the sins of the world, to save us from the biggest trauma in our life. Certainly, after investing so much in us and going through all that, He won’t hold back on providing answers and healing for the lesser traumas and hurts of this world, and He doesn’t. We just need to understand how to access and apply this abundant healing.

God Cleans Our PTSD Smudged Lenses

Past events, from hurtful or embarrassing experiences to life threatening and traumatic situations, impact the way we see our lives and the decisions we make. When most of us experience a significant hurt or trauma, especially something we aren’t prepared for, shock, hurt, and many other uncomfortable emotions are normal felt. Our natural instincts want to protect us from ever feeling those again, so we go on hyper alert for any circumstances even remotely similar to the traumatic situation. Sadly, because of the trauma, our radar or lenses become so hyper tweaked, they are actually distorted, not clear, and interfere with our ability to accurately assess, make good decisions in, and enjoy the present.

A couple examples of distorted lenses from adult patients I’ve treated:

  • Someone who was molested by a male teacher with a tie fears men in general, teachers for her kids, anyone with power or authority over her, or anyone wearing a tie.
  • Someone who saw fellow soldiers blown up by a child suicide bomber fears any child with backpacks while thinking any “innocent” looking person has an ulterior motive.
  • Someone who abruptly moved several times as a child losing close friends sees any good friendship as certain pain as it will surely end and cause him grief. Now he is relationally isolated to protect from grieving the loss of more friends.

One of the most important aspects our spiritual sphere brings is the ability to see life more clearly. As the Bible discusses in many areas, having eyes that see the truth clearly is the first step to real healing. Satan is the great deceiver, the Father of Lies. He will use the troubling and hurtful experiences of this world to trick your mind into seeing life inaccurately. Your awareness of what the Holy Spirit inside you is showing you, what the Bible describes as reality, and what God’s promises reveal will keep you focused on the truth of who you are and that even the worst events can be used in a powerful way for your growth, other’s awareness of God, and God’s glory.

In John 8:32, Jesus states, “if you live in my word (Bible), … you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Our heightened self-protective defense system needs to be put aside so we can use the Armor of God to protect us, and our most powerful defense as Jesus stated is the word of God showing us the reality of who we are, God’s love for us, how He values us, why He allows certain uncomfortable events into our life, and how He has the power to use those events in incredible ways to help us and others know Him better. Seeing the truth during and after a traumatic event is the most effective treatment intervention and that only comes from a healthy spirit.

God Brings Healing to Many Aspects of PTSD

God is vital in PTSD treatment not only so we can see the traumatic event and subsequent ripples more clearly, but also many other aspects are part of His complete and lasting healing. As we understand and apply God’s instruction and promises while yielding to the Holy Spirit to exercise the mind of Christ in us, we will experience healing in the form of the following:

  • Hope – of a renewed life, free from the impact of the traumatic event and its ripples in our earthly life and a right relationship with God for eternal peace and joy in heaven.
  • Soothing – calming our mind, emotions, negative thoughts and their impact on the whole person.
  • Peace – knowing the event and all related to it is in God’s hands and He loves and cares for you, wanting the best for you so He will take care of you in the best way. Not necessarily your way, because you don’t know the future or as much as He does.
  • Forgiveness – the ability to forgive the perpetrator of our trauma, giving us the gift of identifying with Christ and being free of the power the perpetrator has over us.
  • Answers – to questions such as why hurts happened, where we find our value and purpose, and why we are here.
  • Truth – helping us correct our thought processes and inserting God’s truth to replace the lies that often are planted or brainwashed into our head after the trauma.
  • Security – so we don’t have to worry and be so fearful about repeat trauma. Now we can live life to its fullest knowing if adversity does come our way, God has a purpose and we have the resources to manage it well, as the Bible tells us Jesus, David, Peter, Paul, and Stephen did.
  • Acceptance – humility to realize we are not entitled to everything going according to our agenda or whim, in fact the wages of sin is death and that is what we deserve. But God allows and uses certain painful events to draw us, and others, closer to Him or to see what life without Him is really like. We realize, without God, what we are all capable of doing and being.
  • Grace – even though we’ve deserved pain and consequences for our many mistakes, God has protected us. When we do experience hurt, we often lash out or ignore God to deal with it, but He still extends grace by giving us access to peace and power to deal with and overcome the forces of evil trying to use the trauma to turn us away from God and the path He has for us.
  • Power – supernatural power of the Holy Spirit to overcome the hurt and rise above it. No pain, no gain mentality and actually become stronger in our faith and who we are to shine, be a Lighthouse, during dark times.
  • Unconditional Love – knowing God and Jesus love us and sacrificed so much for us, and will continue to no matter how we respond to our circumstances.
  • Relief – Jesus asks us to let Him hook us to His yoke, so He can carry our burden and we will not be weary. When we are rested, then we can continue to fight, but with His power and always Him taking our burden.

Spiritual Healing Summary

Isaiah 26:3 states, “He gives them perfect peace whose mind is fixed on Thee.”

Satan wants to use a traumatic event to disrupt us, to get us off our path, to distract us. Perfect peace allows us to walk forward in life clearly and joyfully and is what we strive for when we are confronted by a hurtful or traumatic event in our life. Here the prophet clearly states how not just peace, but perfect peace is attained – keep your mind fixed, focused, and taking in God!

In Matthew 13:15b, Jesus states, “lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.”

The healing prescription simply is:

  • See the truth of who you and God are and what your situation is
  • Hear God speaking to you His love, promises, wisdom, and instruction
  • Understand in your heart/mind with the help of the Holy Spirit how to apply what God says to your situation
  • Turn to making the godly decision based on your Holy Spirit understanding
  • You will experience an indescribable psychospiritual healing from PTSD and any other psychological or spiritual struggle.

Processing Traumatic Events through the Lenses of God’s Love

When we face anything from minor hurtful to major traumatic events, we need only look to God for the power to overcome. Talking about the incident afterward helps keep the negative thinking away, but for lasting hope and peace, a Christian treatment program invites in the divine power of the Holy Spirit while using the filter and grounding of truth revealed in the Bible to deliver a deeper psychospiritual healing. The Bible teaches principles to understand and process the traumas, abuses, and wounding of life. The Holy Spirit in us gives clarity, power, influence, and guidance for dealing with the trauma right now, and shaping our lives for lasting renewal.

As we’ve discussed, sound and effective treatment infuses significant Christian principles woven into the program, because healing of the body, mind, and spirit are all important to achieve the best long term results. Bible study, prayer, interactions with other believers and positive mentors, and guidance from Christian counselors using Biblically-based, Christ-centered principles in the psychotherapy are vital to the spiritual healing God offers everyone. With God’s help we see the truth that we do not need to let our experiences shape who we are, but rather, we let God and His love shape our responses to and impact on the events that happen to us in this life.