The horrors of war, traumatic events, and the evil in this world produce fear, anxiety, and a desire to fight or flight. These God-given responses are designed to help protect us from danger or harm. Yet occasionally, when the danger subsides and the threat no longer exists, some people continue to relive the devastation. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can affect men and women who have served in the military, but it may also touch the life of anyone who has endured a shocking or frightening experience.
How does the Bible speak to this overwhelming condition? Liseten as Curtis Solomon and Greg Gifford discuss how God’s Word graciously ministers to those who suffer with PTSD.
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Curtis SolomonCurtis serves as Director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition. He is a certified member of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. He received a B.A. in Biblical Studies from The Master’s University and an M.Div. in Christian Ministries from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Biblical Counseling. As an Air Force veteran Curtis is passionate about his dissertation topic which applies the truth of God’s Word to help those struggling with PTSD.
Greg GiffordGreg is Assistant Professor of Biblical Counseling at The Master’s University. He is a PhD candidate in Biblical Counseling at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, holds a Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling from The Master’s University. He has worked as both a full-time biblical counselor and associate pastor before joining the TMU faculty. Greg also served as a Captain in the United States Army from 2008-2012 after which he transitioned to counseling ministry. His book, "Helping Your Family through PTSD", was released in August of 2017.
This afternoon, you’ll actually get a chance to meet a couple of their instructors and learn a little bit more about that program throughout the day. So, that’s a little bit of my background. Why I am interested in this topic and why I want to share with you a little bit about counseling from the biblical perspective in helping those wrestling with post traumatic stress. So, the talk this morning, this session is called Demystifying PTSD, because I really want to help people understand post traumatic stress in a way that takes away some of the stigma. Some of the fears, some of the confusion that often shrouds this very difficult issue. For starters, the diagnostic and statistical manual, the DSM, which is the book that is used by psychologists and psychiatrists to diagnose and then, offer treatment for various different mental health issues. Defines post traumatic stress disorder as “an issue, a disorder, that arises in somebody after … One month after or anytime after one month from experiencing a traumatic event. And it is involves certain systems that are kind of clustered around three different areas”.
nd they would come home, many of them my colleagues, and some of them my friends, would come home and were diagnosed and occasionally medicated. And some even given pensions from the VA because of what they were going through with PTS or PTSD. However, there was very little hope for change. As I was coming out of the military, my peers were diagnosed, and they were given resources to learn how to cope, but they weren’t given any promise that, “You can work through this,” that “It doesn’t have to be like this the rest of your life.” Or as Curtis was saying in our last session, that, “You are not your PTSD. It’s not your identity.”
If you help people read the Bible through the lens of the suffering and difficulty that life has always held since the fall of mankind into sin. It can help them understand that they’re not alone. When they see the story of David who was a combat veteran, who went out, killed people, decapitated them, mutilated the dead bodies of his enemies to get his dowry, and then in Psalms 6, he’s describing sleepless nights where he’s soaking his couch in tears and his enemies surround him and he’s wrestling with these realities, that begins to help people connect their story to the story of scripture in a way that helps them understand, they are not alone.
For those of you who have family members with PTSD, you can identify with them. That you have bore brunt in many occasions. That you have served in ways that are greater than most counselors ever have with your loved one. That the family member is going to be there more than the pastor is. I don’t mean that because that’s the best or I’m not trying to make a case for how the family should be. I’m saying that, that’s the way it is that the wife is there, the husband is there, the kids are there. The parents are there. It’s the loved ones that minister most to those struggling with PTSD, so my goal has been to help angle ministry toward the family and helping equip the family with how they can respond and minister to their loved one who’s going through PTSD.