Laughter and Healing from Traumatic Events

 

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

 Psalm 27:13-14 (NKJV)

Many people lose heart because they do not believe that they will ever see their situations improve. The emotional and spiritual pain they carry from traumatic events can become unbearable. The enemy can bring discouragement through numerous methods. One of those is when he whispers the lie, “God does not care about you. He would not have allowed this terrible thing to happen if He did.” If we listen to the devil and his lies, our faith will be weakened, our hearts can become more troubled, and deep depression can set in.

Traumatic events always cause a broken heart and spirit. Trauma includes betrayal, emotional abuse, mental abuse, verbal abuse, physical abuse, spiritual abuse, sexual abuse, ritual abuse, rape, the death of a loved one, divorce, domestic violence, accidents and natural disasters. The levels of emotional pain that we can experience from trauma vary greatly. When traumatic situations are more severe, and if they are ongoing, the emotional pain can, and often does, lead to physical illness.

Secondary trauma is trauma that we heard about or saw that happened to someone else, but did not directly involve us. Secondary trauma can have a significant impact on our hearts and spirits even though we did not experience the traumatic event first-hand. Ministers, counselors, doctors, nurses, mental health workers, police officers, firefighters, and people in many other professions that deal with the public can carry extreme, and sometimes debilitating, amounts of emotional pain from secondary trauma.

A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.

Proverbs 15:13 (NKJV)

A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.

Proverbs 17:22 (NKJV)

These verses make it very clear that a merry heart is good for our physical well-being. However, when we go through emotionally painful and traumatic experiences, it is difficult to have a merry heart. That, in turn, can seriously affect our physical and spiritual health!

If our hearts have been broken, a merry heart is sometimes very difficult to even imagine. However, our broken hearts and spirits can, and often will, result in physical sickness if the emotional and spiritual pain are allowed to continue without relief. That is what is meant by “a broken spirit dries the bones.” Dry bones are not healthy bones.

Not only is our spirit broken by sorrow of the heart, but our physical health is negatively affected as well. If we do not acknowledge the emotional pain and trauma we are carrying and seek help through godly, Bible-based prayer and ministry, the results can be devastating. When we least expect it, the suppressed emotional pain can be triggered by other similar situations, contributing to undesirable and ungodly behavior. This cycle will repeat until a person deals with the inner pain.

Proverbs 17:22 says that a merry heart is good medicine! One way to help the healing of our broken hearts and spirits is to laugh. There is absolutely nothing funny, nor laughable, about suffering emotional and spiritual pain due to a traumatic situation. However, laughing in the face of pain and trauma as we are able to do so is very important. It will help heal our hearts and spirits. If we cannot think of anything to laugh about, watching a funny movie is helpful. Reading a humorous book can also be healing.

Medical and scientific research has found that laughter reduces stress hormones and boosts the immune system. It also lowers blood pressure and reduces physical pain. Once again, the secular world is proving that what the Lord told us in His Word is absolutely true.

Laughter and a merry heart are part of the physical and inner healing process for past and present emotional pain and trauma. They are also excellent maintenance for our bodies and spirits. Genuine followers of Jesus Christ must be intentional and very selective regarding what they read, listen to, and watch in order to maintain a merry heart and peaceful spirit. They must let laughter be a regular part of their daily spiritual exercise.

We cannot allow our circumstances and the people responsible for breaking our hearts to determine our emotional, spiritual and physical health, or lack thereof, by staying in depressed and hopeless states. What Jesus Christ did on the cross for us is more than enough to give us hope and cheer us up. If Jesus Christ is truly someone’s personal Lord and Savior, they have the assurance from our Most High God that they will be rejoicing in heaven with Him and Jesus in the future. So, they must let their hearts be merry about that awesome promise!

Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10 (NKJV)

It requires an inner joy of the Lord to laugh when one’s heart and spirit are broken! If the enemy, Satan, can steal our joy, he has won half the battle. The devil loves to lead a Christian into a state of anxiety, fear, or worry. That is one of the ways he can get their focus off the joy of the Lord. If a person’s heart is broken, they are more likely to succumb to Satan’s tactics. One reason it is so important for us to cling to the joy of the Lord in spite of our circumstances is that it gives us strength against the enemy. It also makes it much easier to have a merry heart.

Laughter and having a merry heart are very important parts of the healing process for our broken hearts and crushed spirits.  Laughing has many beneficial effects on us emotionally, spiritually and physically.  It is one of the remedies that the Lord created through which we can receive some healing when we are brokenhearted.  However, we must deliberately participate in that blessing to receive the healing it provides. Having and sharing a godly sense of humor with others is also extremely healing and essential in the inner healing process. Choosing to laugh and rejoice about something on a daily basis is choosing to have a merry heart!

Kathy Shelton

The Joy of the Lord IS Your Strength!

Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10 (NKJV)

Joy means happiness, pleasure, bliss, and ecstasy to the world. Since most followers of Jesus Christ have come from a worldly background, it is easy to confuse the joy of the Lord with those emotions. However, the joy that comes from knowing the Lord and following Him is far beyond fleeting feelings of happiness. It is a sense of peace and contentment in knowing that one day we will be in heaven with our Most High God and the Lord Jesus Christ forever.

If the enemy, Satan, can steal our joy, he has won half the battle. The devil loves to lead a Christian into a state of anxiety, fear, or worry. That is one of the ways he can get their focus off the joy of the Lord. If a person’s heart is broken, they are more likely to succumb to Satan’s tactics. One reason it is so important for us to cling to the joy of the Lord in spite of our circumstances is that it gives us strength against the enemy.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

Philippians 4:4 (NKJV)

The joy of the Lord is our strength and remembering Almighty God’s marvelous works will help us to receive His joy and to rejoice in the Lord. Traumatic experiences weaken our hearts and spirits and the only true and lasting remedy is healing through Jesus Christ. The most incredible thing that the One True God has done for all of us is that He sent His Son, Jesus, to this earth in order to offer us the opportunity to be forgiven for our sins and to receive healing for our broken hearts. We must thank God for that and talk about it, because it is very healing to speak of all His wondrous works. It fills us with His joy!

The fact that Jesus was born and died a horrific death is nothing to rejoice about if He had not also risen from the dead. The disciples and His family were overcome with emotional pain before they realized that His promise to be resurrected was to be taken literally. Once they saw that Jesus was alive again, they rejoiced.

Since we have the blessing of knowing that Jesus’ death was not the end of the story, we should enthusiastically REJOICE! The more often we remember and meditate on the fact that Father God gave His Son, Jesus, to die for us and that Jesus rose from the dead, the more we will be able to rejoice. The Father and the Son love us deeply and eternally. No person can come close to that magnitude of love for us. Those amazing blessings should cause sincere Christians to rejoice!

A broken heart is no excuse not to rejoice in the Lord. However, the devil uses emotional and spiritual pain to bring discouragement, depression and despair into our minds, hearts and spirits. That is why we must obey God’s Word faithfully and rejoice in the Lord. As we rejoice in God and all He has done for us, we are filled with His joy. That strengthens and heals us in ways that are unseen, but more real and permanent than the world’s solutions for pain and trauma. The joy of the Lord is our strength and it helps heal our broken hearts and spirits.

Serve the Lord with gladness and delight;
Come before His presence with joyful singing.

Psalm 100:2 (AMP)

Serving the Lord can look very different, depending on a person’s age, culture, environment, maturity level, and the stage or season of their life. Everyone, including mothers, fathers, students, teachers, doctors, nurses, business owners, employees, farmers, shepherds, missionaries, and ministers, can serve the Lord in their daily lives. For example, children can serve the Lord by being respectful and obedient to their parents.

As we do whatever the Lord has given us the opportunity to do in this life, we should do it with gladness and delight. However, a broken heart can dampen our ability to feel glad. Joyful singing may seem impossible at times. We may even become numb to feelings of gladness and joy as a result of the pain and trauma that we are suffering or have experienced in the past. Anything that inhibits our capacity for joy and gladness must be addressed and resolved. The pain and trauma that caused our hearts to be broken can and will steal our joy and strength. However, Jesus Christ can release emotional pain and trauma from our hearts and spirits. He alone can heal the brokenhearted in a lasting way.

We cannot serve the Lord in freedom until we have received healing for painful and traumatic situations that have caused the numbing of our emotions. The Lord wants us to joyfully sing to Him. We must ask Him to heal our hearts and spirits from whatever may be preventing us from doing so. A genuine, personal relationship with Jesus as our Lord and Savior is the key to the restoration of joy in our hearts, minds and spirits. That joy gives us the ability to serve the Lord with gladness and delight.

When our hearts are broken, we must stand up against what the devil has done in our lives by embracing the joy of the Lord. If we allow the pain we have experienced to determine our outlooks on life, the enemy will be victorious and we will be miserable. However, as we rejoice in what Jesus did for us, we will be blessed and our hearts and spirits will be healed and strengthened. The joy of the Lord is our strength!

Kathy Shelton

 

One More Time—Falling and Getting Back Up

Do you feel like a failure? Are you brokenhearted? Have you struggled with the same behaviors or addiction for years without victory? Have you felt like giving up? Don’t! It takes courage to get back up when we fall. Be courageous and the Lord will strengthen your heart.

Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart,
All you who hope in the Lord.

Psalm 31:24 (NKJV)

If you have sincerely asked Jesus Christ to be your personal Lord and Savior, then you can hope in the Lord. We all occasionally miss the mark of perfectly following and obeying the Lord. However, practicing known sin on a regular or daily basis is not missing the mark. That is rebellion and willful disobedience to God.

If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:6-9 (NKJV)

Our faithful God will forgive a repentant person who is genuinely sorry for their sins and makes the choice to change their behavior. God is ready to forgive.

For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.

Psalm 86:5 (NKJV)

Father God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are good! However, no person is good all the time—no one. Human beings have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Falling short of the glory of God does not make us hopeless cases. It means that we are human.

Just because you have failed once, twice or even hundreds of times, that does not mean that you cannot succeed. A friend of mine once told me that a high-ranking officer in the military shared with him that he would rather have someone under his command who had fallen and gotten back up than someone who had never fallen at all. He knew that the one who had fallen and gotten back up would not easily succumb to defeat. The person who has failed at receiving healing from past pain and trauma, but continues to pursue their freedom is very likely to eventually be victorious. Do not lose heart!

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)

The enemy of our souls, Satan, encourages genuine Christians to feel defeated and discouraged. If we allow him to accomplish that in our lives, he has won the battle. However, he does not win the war! The Bible makes it clear that Satan and his forces will be completely defeated in the end. We must hold on to that truth as we fight the good fight of faith.

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 

1 Timothy 6:12 (NKJV)

Regardless of what you are facing today, do not give in to the temptation to give up! Yes, there are horrible storms that come into our lives. Those situations can cause us a lot of emotional, spiritual and/or physical pain, and trauma, but our victory is found in overcoming through the Lord Jesus Christ.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.  Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:31-39 (NKJV)

We are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ!

Do not give up! If you have fallen again, get back up one more time and fight for your victory. You will succeed with the Lord Jesus Christ by your side. Take His hand and let Him lead you into freedom. He loves you and wants that for you more than you can imagine. I have witnessed Jesus Christ set hundreds of people free from past pain and trauma. He can do the same for you!

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13 (NKJV)

For suggestions regarding how to receive help, check out our HELPFUL RESOURCES page. Your freedom from sin, addiction, and past pain and trauma is worth fighting for. Be filled with hope today!

Kathy Shelton

WAITING in the Midst of Pain and Trauma

WAITING?!? Most of us, especially those with broken hearts, have a very difficult time waiting for anything. We have become a society of instant everything. We want it now, whatever it may be. However, the Most High God often tells us to wait on His perfect timing for the answers to our prayers. We may never understand why the Lord requires us to wait for so many things, but we must trust that He knows what is best for our lives and what will possibly cause us harm if we receive answers to our prayers too soon. Trusting the Lord makes it easier to wait on Him.

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

 Psalm 27:13-14 (NKJV)

Many people lose heart because they do not believe that they will ever see their situations improve. The pain and trauma they carry can become unbearable and may even lead to suicidal thoughts. The enemy can bring discouragement our way through numerous methods. One of those is when he whispers the lie to us, “God does not care about you. He would not have allowed this terrible thing to happen if He did.” If we listen to the devil and his lies, our faith will be weakened, our hearts can become more troubled, and deep depression can set in.  

What does the goodness of the Lord mean? Some people are under the impression that it means their lives will be pain-free and problem-free. However, the Lord never promised that our lives would be easy. The goodness of the Lord is not based on our circumstances. The Lord is always good! His goodness can be seen all around us, but we must look for it through eyes of faith. Looking through eyes of despair and depression hinders us from seeing the goodness of the Lord. 

Our prayers to see God’s goodness in certain situations may be delayed for various reasons, but we need to continue to have faith that He is working on our behalf. Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” We must allow the Lord to strengthen our broken hearts by standing firm in our faith.

But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

 Romans 8:25 (NKJV)

Saying that waiting is difficult is an understatement. How many of us eagerly wait with perseverance? The Lord may require us to wait for answers to our prayers for emotional, physical or spiritual healing for days, months, years, or even decades. However, God’s plans for us are always good, and in the midst of our times of waiting, He will strengthen us and draw us into deeper relationships with Him, Jesus and the Holy Spirit if we allow Him to do so. Our heart attitudes must be that—regardless of our circumstances, pain, trauma, or our lack of understanding why—we will trust our heavenly Father completely. He is the Most High God, the Lord of Hosts, and the Creator of the Universe. We must remember that He is never surprised by our situations and suffering, and that He loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3)!

The Lord did not immediately deliver numerous people written about in the Bible from their problems and traumatic situations. Many of them had to wait for years or decades before they saw the answers to their prayers. Noah, Abraham, Joseph, the Apostles and many others had to wait on the Lord before they saw God’s promises fulfilled.  However, while they were waiting, they served the Lord! In obedience to the Most High God, while Noah was waiting for God’s deliverance from the immense evil on the earth, Noah built an ark even though there had not been any rain. Joseph went through horrible circumstances, but he kept his eyes on the big picture—the Lord’s will for his life during each season regardless of the pain and trauma he endured. Paul did the same. We must also keep our eyes on the big picture. Having to wait is not unusual, nor is it punishment for anything we have done. It is just a fact of life.

As we are suffering unspeakable trauma, we often pray for Almighty God to intervene and relieve the emotional and spiritual pain that has cut us to the core of our beings. We may ask the Lord why we have not received answers to our prayers and the prayers of others, and why the suffering has continued in spite of them. Wanting immediate answers to our prayers is a dangerous attitude, because the devil can take advantage of that and lead us to doubt and be discouraged when answers are delayed.

Spiritual warfare can also be a reason that we have to wait for answers to our prayers. According to Daniel 10:12-13, the answers to Daniel’s prayers were hindered and delayed for 21 days.  There was a very real battle taking place in the spiritual realm over Daniel’s prayers and the answers to them. Our Most High God heard those prayers as soon as Daniel prayed them, but the prince of the kingdom of Persia battled against the answers, delaying them from being delivered.

Spiritual warfare is more real than anything we can see in the natural realm. We must understand that our broken hearts are often the result of attacks from the kingdom of darkness, either directly or through human beings. Continuing to pray and ask Almighty God for help is crucial as we fight against demonic and evil entities. The blood that Jesus Christ shed on the cross is more powerful than anything the devil, or his helpers, can do to us. As we remember to stay focused and wait on the Lord, we will see the answers to our prayers and healing for our broken hearts and spirits!

But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)

As we wait on the Lord in the midst of pain and trauma, our emotional, mental, spiritual and physical strength can be depleted. That is why we must make a point to continue to fill ourselves with the joy of the Lord to renew our strength. Actions that we can take include listening to praise and worship music, singing out loud to the Lord, reading the Bible out loud, praying with others and meditating on God’s goodness. The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10) at all times and in every traumatic circumstance while we are waiting on the Lord!

Kathy Shelton

 

 

Joy Comes in the Morning!


Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His,
And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.
For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.
Psalm 30:4-5 (NKJV)

Genuine followers of Jesus Christ have all experienced the dark night of the soul at one time or another in their lives.  Those days, weeks, months or even years can seem like they will never end and be extremely difficult to endure.  Regardless of how much we love the Lord and seek His comfort, there are times when our souls—our minds, wills and emotions— refuse to be comforted.

In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; My soul refused to be comforted.
Psalm 77:2 (NKJV)


In Psalm 23:4, David wrote about walking through the valley of the shadow of death.  That valley is no fun to walk through, but the main thing to keep in mind is that we walk through it.  We should never stop and give up!  People who have sincerely asked Jesus Christ to be their personal Lord and Savior, asked Almighty God for forgiveness for their sins in Jesus’ name, and who have repented and changed their ungodly behavior will eventually experience joy in the morning.  That joy may come the next day after a traumatic event.  However, it may be weeks or months before that joy comes to our hearts, minds and spirits.  True Christians know that when we pass from this life into eternity, and we see the Lord face to face, we will be filled with joy!

His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant;
you have been faithful over a few things,
I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
Matthew 25:23 (NKJV)


The cycle of experiencing grief, weeping, and sorrow and then returning to a place of joy is part of life.  However, some Christians can get stuck in the grieving part of the cycle and do not regain the joy of the Lord.  The joy of the Lord is our strength as it says in Nehemiah 8:10 and we must return to His joy in order to receive the healing we need from traumatic events in our lives.  We can only do that if we are one of God’s children, living our lives for His glory.

Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord.
Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10 (NKJV)


In 2 Corinthians 11:24-28, Paul wrote about many of the traumatic events that he experienced:

Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.
2 Corinthians 11:24-28 (ESV)

Most of us have not suffered the majority of those types of horrendous situations, other than possibly sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, and being cold.  Nevertheless, many true Christians, including me, have been extremely wounded and devastated by traumatic circumstances which caused our hearts and spirits to be broken. 
Have you been betrayed?  I have.  Have you been divorced?  I have.  Have you been lied about by close friends or family members?  I have.  Have you been raped?  I have.  Have you been the victim of a violent crime?  I have.  Have you suffered the loss of a loved one due to their death?  I have.  Have you been abandoned?  I have.  Have you been rejected?  I have.  Have you been emotionally, verbally, mentally, physically, sexually, or spiritually abused?  I have experienced all of those types of abuse and more.  Have you been the victim of domestic violence?  I have.  Have you survived a natural disaster?  I have.  However, I am a survivor and more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ!  You can be too!! 

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us [so much that He died for us].

Romans 8:37 (AMP)

Paul called the immense traumatic circumstances that he suffered “light afflictions” in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.  He encouraged us not to lose heart and remember that the trials in our lives are only for a moment compared to eternity.  We must always try to keep God’s perspective as our focus—the big picture—that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28, NKJV).

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing,
yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment,
is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.
For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NKJV)

So, when I write these articles, I am writing from a place of truly having lived through and survived numerous forms of extremely traumatic events.  My personal relationship with Jesus Christ has enabled the inner healing that He has done in my heart and spirit. The amount of emotional and spiritual healing I have received is amazing and it has allowed me to help others.  Jesus died for all my griefs and sorrows.  He died for yours as well.  Isaiah was prophesying about Jesus in these verses:

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
Isaiah 53:4-5 (NKJV)


Our Most High God has promised us that joy will come in the morning.  He does not tell us which morning, only that joy will come.  We must participate in the fulfillment of that promise in any way that He leads us to do so.  The main thing that we can do to see that happen in our lives is to worship the Lord regardless of what is happening in the natural realm.  As we obey and honor Him, we will experience increasing amounts of His joy! 

Kathy Shelton

 

Joy to the World… Surviving Holidays and Celebrations

Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 

Nehemiah 8:10 (NKJV)

It should be a blessing to get together with family and/or friends during Easter, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years, birthdays and other times of celebration.  However, these days and seasons—which should be joyful—can be extremely lonely and emotionally painful times for many people.  As a result, and very sadly, the rate of suicide increases during the holidays. 

If you dread the holidays because emotional pain from the past is usually triggered, please know that you are not alone.  This is very common.  However, there is help.  Jesus can release that past pain and trauma!  As Nehemiah 8:10 says, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”  His joy is not dependent on our circumstances or any past emotional pain we have suffered.  His joy is endless and without comparison.  If we are on a downward spiral into the opposite of His joy, we must draw near to our heavenly Father and pray for His strength and joy to overshadow the emotional pain. 

My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!

Psalm 119:28 (ESV)

When emotional pain or trauma from the past is triggered during the holidays, it can be extremely difficult for those who are unknowingly carrying that pain.  They may not realize that their reaction to Aunt Suzie or Uncle Harry is really partially the result of past pain that has been buried and is now coming to the surface.  Reactions to what should be happy situations can appear to be inappropriate and even unreasonable to the traumatized person and others, because they do not understand that suppressed pain and trauma are being triggered.

Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why are you restless and disturbed within me?
Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall again praise Him,
The help of my [sad] countenance and my God.

Psalm 43:5 (AMP)

An example of emotional pain from the past being triggered after over six decades was described to me by one of my ministry recipients several years ago.  This woman, Betty (not her real name), had been married for over 50 years when she asked her husband to go to the store to buy a jar of pickles for her.  Betty told him the type and brand of pickles that she wanted, but when he returned home, he had a jar of generic pickles that was not even the type that she had requested.

This woman, who was in her seventies, said that she went into a rage!  Thankfully, Betty also had some knowledge about inner emotional wounds and quickly realized that her reaction had very little to do with the pickles.  So, she asked the Lord what was going on with her, and He revealed the root of her emotional outburst.  When Betty was a child, her family was very poor and her mother only bought things that were the least expensive.  If her mother came home with anything that was not the cheapest item, this woman’s father got very angry.  The pain and trauma that surfaced when Betty’s husband came home with the generic brand of pickles had been stuffed for over 60 years!  The end of the story is that Betty received the healing and freedom that she needed through Jesus Christ from this past emotional pain and trauma.  Praise the Lord!

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

Until inner healing is received, there are several things we can do to minimize experiencing emotional pain during the holidays.  If we know that particular people, or specific situations have caused us emotional pain in the past, we must do whatever we can to limit our contact with them, or completely avoid being exposed to them, if at all possible.   We must set healthy, godly boundaries to protect our hearts and spirits.  Other examples of guarding our hearts also include avoiding watching seasonal programs on television, not listening to certain holiday music, and not going to some parties or events, all of which may bring past emotional pain to the surface.  It is much easier to avoid being triggered than to deal with the emotional pain once it has come to the surface.

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV)

Also, focusing on the main reason for the celebration is a must in order to avoid emotional pain and trauma from ruining holidays.  For example, remembering that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior—and not about the gifts, parties and social events—will help immensely.  We cannot get offended and hurt as easily if we keep the main thing, the main thing.  Jesus’ birth allowed for His death and resurrection which provided all people the opportunity to receive forgiveness for their sins and healing for their broken hearts.  Taking our focus off Aunt Suzie or Uncle Harry will help prevent the pain and trauma they trigger from coming up in our hearts and spirits.  Everyone with broken hearts must focus, focus, focus on the Healer and not on the people and situations that caused our hearts to be broken.  Creating new, joyful memories helps heal our broken hearts as well. 

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18 (NASB)

It takes determination and laser-like focus on our part to be joyful during the holidays. Returning to a place of peace once emotional pain and trauma have produced depression, great sadness, despair or hopelessness in our hearts and spirits is not easy.  However, it is possible through the love and healing power of a genuine, personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  There is never a better time to ask Jesus to be our personal Lord and Savior than the present moment.  He wants to heal our broken hearts, but He will never force anyone into a relationship with Him.  We must willingly choose to accept that gift, which will make it possible for emotional and spiritual healing to take place.  Once Jesus becomes the true focus of our lives, we can ask Him to release the pain that has surfaced and replace it with His peace and joy.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;”

Luke 4:18 (NKJV)

God loves us very much and wants us to be set free from past pain and trauma.  Luke 4:18 are Jesus’ words, proclaiming that He came to heal the brokenhearted.  My prayer for you is that you will allow the Lord to direct your steps to receive the inner healing you need.  May God bless you with His peace and joy in your hearts, minds and spirits every day and especially during the holidays when we celebrate God’s amazing love and goodness to us.

Kathy Shelton

 

Carry on, Soldier!

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.”

Matthew 10:34 (NKJV)

Jesus made this statement to His twelve disciples as He was preparing to send them out into the surrounding areas to preach the Gospel, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons. Jesus was warning them about the spiritual warfare that they would encounter as they served the Most High God. The sword that He was referring to was a weapon used not in peaceful situations, but in fighting the good fight (1 Timothy 6:12). Jesus also explained in the verses following Matthew 10:34 that division in relationships would occur as a result of their steadfast faith. We will experience the same things as we follow Jesus and serve the Most High God.

When we make a genuine decision to accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, it is life-changing in many ways. However, we rarely realize that we have also enlisted in a very real war in the spiritual realm. Life is not easy in general, but lives that are surrendered to the Most High God and His Son, Jesus Christ, include the reality of ongoing spiritual warfare at various levels and intensities throughout the Christian journey.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV)

The Lord has provided many spiritual weapons for us to use as we battle against Satan’s kingdom, the kingdom of darkness. Ephesians 6:14-18 contains a list of some of the weapons that are necessary and successful in the spiritual battles we face in our Christian lives. They include truth, righteousness, the Gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the Word of God and prayer.

If we are going to be effective in the battles, we must live a life of truth just as our Lord Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). Righteousness—godly standards and principles—must also be followed in order to avoid giving the enemy any right to repel the weapons we are using against him and the kingdom of darkness. During warfare, we cannot shift back and forth from one side to the other. We must choose God’s side and stay there. If we continue to practice known sin, we align ourselves with the armies of the kingdom of darkness. Opposing the enemy requires us to reject and repent for sin and to resist the temptation to join the devil’s side by being in agreement with his lies, deception, and all other sinful and evil behavior.

Quoting Scripture, the Word of God, is a powerful weapon that will cause the armies of the enemy to flee. Becoming diligent about praying every day, as frequently as needed and for as long as necessary, is essential in the fight against the attacks from the devil and his helpers.  Praise and worship are also huge weapons that are highly successful in fighting the good fight. Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to the Lord while they were in the most horrific prison, resulting in their miraculous release (Acts 16:25). 

Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.

Psalm 24:10 (NKJV)

It is not the Lord’s will for us to fight in this warfare alone. We must always remember that the Lord our God fights for us! Our Most High God is also the Lord of Hosts, the Lord of Heaven’s armies! When we need help, warrior angels are ready to assist us in the battle against the kingdom of darkness. Hebrews 1:14 says that angels are ministering spirits sent forth to minister for us. Asking Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts, to send them to help us fight spiritual battles is crucial for victory, especially when we are feeling beaten down and weak.

Spiritual warfare can be extremely exhausting—physically, emotionally and spiritually. Twila Paris’ song, The Warrior is a Child, is a great reminder that “even winners can get wounded in the fight” and “even soldiers need a quiet place to rest.” No follower of Jesus Christ is strong enough to constantly fight spiritual warfare without times of rest away from the front lines. We all need those times of refreshing and recovery. We also need the prayers of other genuine believers to help fortify us in the battles. The principles of warfare in the natural realm of never leaving anyone behind and supporting the other soldiers to the death are even more important in fighting spiritual warfare!

No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.

2 Timothy 2:4 (NKJV)

Staying focused on our calling as soldiers in God’s kingdom against the kingdom of darkness is also essential if we are going to be effective in spiritual warfare. The devil and his helpers will do their best to distract us with worldly matters and activities to trap us in their web of lies and deception to the point that we lose our concentration and ability to respond appropriately when attacks are launched against us. To please our Most High God and be ready to fight the spiritual battles that come our way, we must avoid sinful behavior and people who directly or indirectly discourage us from following Jesus’ example. During spiritual warfare we can never drop our spiritual weapons, and we must avoid the temptation to run away—going AWOL—in the same manner that a member of the armed forces is absent from his or her place of assignment without official permission. We must carry on to the best of our ability using the weapons that the Most High God has provided for us and continue to fight the good fight to the very end. Carry on, soldier! The victory celebration will be glorious when we meet the Lord face to face.

 

Kathy Shelton