Months ago I read about Joni Eareckson Tada visiting the pools of Bethesda. Just after she was paralysed the story of Jesus healing the lame man of 38 years old at these pools, caused her to cry out to Jesus to not pass her by, but to heal her also.
But now, so many years later, she saw that even though she was still paralysed, God had in fact answered her cry. She realized what she had seen as His withholding all those years ago was in fact His miraculous giving. For, now she awakes daily, crying out for God to sustain her and to live and love through her. Her paralysis – her weakness – invites her daily into God’s perfecting power. As Joni leans upon her Rock and Redeemer, it’s truly no longer Joni who lives, but Christ who lives in and through her, daily, by the power of His Spirit at work in her.
Now, I recognize that God has been longing to give me the same gift He has been giving Joni: through a different kind of paralysis. Paralysis from triggers of trauma. I can see how God’s withholding of immediate healing (from Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), has in fact been His heart-wrenching gift of mercy to me.
Just like a good Father, He wants me to learn to exercise my own free will. He wants me to love Him and others, because I experientially know His love for me. And as I walk through triggers of trauma, these triggers are what are inviting me to lean into His perfect love for me.
Choosing to receive that perfect love, is what is casting out the enemy’s accusations and condemnation of me, piece by piece. Accusations and condemnation that I once received as God’s rejection of me. Now, God is empowering me to walk into the light: to speak the truth in love, to confess my sins freely and to boast in my weakness.
Through each trigger God has been declaring me a Temple of His Holy Spirit and His beloved child. Each shaking is forcing me to directly face the accusations of the enemy that I once agreed to, so that this time, clothed in the experential knowledge of God’s love for me, I might release these accusations to walk into Christ’s cleansing love and grace.
This is pretty much a daily occurrence for me. Even just the other night, the LORD convicted my heart of a situation I had allowed fear to guide me into hiding His light in me. But as I laid that crippling fear before Him, He gave me a spirit of power and a sound mind. He clothed me in His thinking. He changed my mind (caused me to repent), as He lifted away my fear of man’s rejection and enabled me to speak up, clothed in His love and acceptance of me.
Funnily, that morning I had sat with the verse “We love Him, because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) and I had invited God to show me how He loved me, that I might love Him as He loves me. I now see how that very repentance He led me to was His answer to my prayer. Through this experience God reminded me that nothing is impossible for those who believe.
Mark 9:23 (ESV) tells us: And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Jesus said this in response to a request for healing from a mute and deaf spirit. I can empathize with the boy who was afflicted with this spirit. For, trauma can paralyse you in a similar way – it can close your ears to God’s Word and close your mouth from declaring the Good News, binding you in a constant state of wakeful hypervigilance, as you choose to sow unto the flesh and not unto the Spirit.
Beautifully, PTSD is in fact the body recalling past trauma in a more rested state, giving us a fresh opportunity to process past traumatic events in a healthy way – to this time agree with God’s Word to us and to release the enemy’s accusations against us, as we repent and seek God’s cleansing. God sends those triggers, not to harm us, but to open our ears to receive His Word and to open our mouths to speak what He has given us to speak.
Through daily triggers God is in fact waking me up to His love. He is inviting me into His healing and wholeness, as He declares me His own, through every trigger that comes. As fear shakes me, He reminds me, just as He did that boy’s father, that all things are possible for the one who believes. He invites me to walk in the fear of the LORD, as He cleanses me of my sin and lifts away my every fear.
Now I know that PTSD is in fact a gift from God. He refused to allow me to remain tethered to the enemy’s accusations that I agreed to as a little girl. Accusations that have silenced His beautiful Voice in me for so long. Now, He is inviting me afresh, in a more rested and filled with His Word state, to clothe myself in the truth that I might once again speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
But now, as I begin to speak up for those whose voices have been silenced by trauma, I do so as one who knows what it is to have had her own voice stolen and restored. And so, I am filled with such overwhelming hope and a faith built no longer upon my own ability to bring about what my heart aches for, but a faith built upon the solid Rock of my God – a God I know to be faithful and true to His every Word.
No, God never condemns His children in their weakness, but runs toward them with open arms. He invites us to run our race clothed in His strength, as our own strength gives way. Paralysis is a gift. It is the thorn in my side that is teaching me to die to myself and to live unto Christ.
There have been times in the past, both as a kid and an adult, where speaking up in response to God’s prompting has led to deep rejection and wounding to my heart. It is in that place, as my cries for mercy for those who cannot speak up for themselves were left unanswered by fellow believers, that I began to clothe myself in the accusations of the enemy.
But what God has been tenderly teaching me through more recent experiences of man’s rejection, is that I can always trust His heart. I can trust His heart of love and mercy toward me, toward those He has asked me to speak up for and toward those who are rejecting His Word in me. Man’s rejection is not God’s rejection of the very Word HE has given me to sow – that He and not I – may bring the fruit in His beautiful timing. Just as He did more than twenty years after I had spoken up as a little girl for my traumatized little adopted brother.
I now know that where that speaking up – that living in the light – causes people to turn their back on me, that this is in fact also God’s love for me. For, through this kind of rejection, God is inviting me into a deeper knowing of His heart of love and mercy for me and for His Body.
Yes, those whom God loves, He also disciplines. Hebrews 12:11 (ESV) reminds us: “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” The painful discipline I let drive me down a Prodigal path as a child, as I clothed myself in the enemy’s accusations and chose to idolize my parents as God, is now reaping the fruit for which it was originally sent, as I am now choosing to take up my Cross to follow Jesus, and not the enemy.
As the enemy has come prowling afresh, God has given me the choice to accept the accusations of condemnation against me, or to depart under a new authority – His authority. Beautifully that is what “go” also means, when Jesus commands us to go and bear fruit that abides: to depart under a new authority. Now, empowered by His grace, through my falling and getting back up again, I am learning to walk into the light and to fully release those He asks me to into His hands.
My old thinking told me I was doing “the right” and “godly” thing, by remaining silent to avoid confrontation and division – which is also what was expected of me by those around me. But God’s Word at work in me compelled me to change my mind and speak up. He showed me that there is no peace and no unity in the Body apart from Him and that true wholeness in fact only comes through the sword of life. Through the Word of God being wielded, as we open our mouths to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves.
Yes, Love (God) delights in the truth – in our speaking of the truth to each other in love, and in confessing our sins and weakness freely before one another. Love does not delight in our hiding and pretending that we might remain “acceptable” to one another. And where that truth sets us apart from each other, it does so only to ultimately put us back together – no longer unequally and heavily yoked to one another – but equally and lightly yoked to Christ alone, who makes us One in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
Jesus also reminded the disciples, who tried to heal the boy with the mute and deaf spirit in their own strength, that even the most stubborn spirits that cripple our loved ones can still be cast out. How? Through our own abiding in the Vine, as we choose to seek God in prayer and fasting to hear and obey His Spirit’s leading, from moment to moment. And that will more often than not asks us to lay down our life for another – to become as nothing to them that we might lift up the Name of Jesus in their midst.
Here is a short clip of Joni’s testimony to God’s daily saving grace. May it bless you, as it did me:
Will you join me, as I finish in prayer?
Father, thank You for loving us first. Today, I ask You to show us afresh how You love us, that we might love You, just as You love us. In Jesus’ precious Name, Amen.