The Children of Israel had PTSD

The Children of Israel had PTSD
The Children of Isreal had PTSD (detail of Psalm 91 painting (oil) by Polly Castor)

Don’t you love when you get a new perspective on something?

It happened because I was listening to someone spiraling down, hovering over a cavernous abyss. Over the time I had been praying for her, God had brought her already through an astonishing amount, in beautiful and amazing ways. By comparison, the current issue seemed not to warrant this desperate reaction. From my objective perspective, she had every reason to continue to trust God would unfold things well going forward.

After we got off the phone, the Bible story that came to me was regarding the children of Isreal fleeing from Pharaoh. First Moses is recruited, and then all those devastating plagues happened, in order to allow them to be released from bondage. Then God led them with a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day. If all this didn’t convict them that God was on their side, what happened next?

Yup, God parts the Red Sea, and they walk through safely, while Pharaoh and his entourage are swallowed up by the water and drown. Finally, they are free to go forward. So there they are in the desert, and what do they do? They complain about the food, remembering better meals during their slavery. I always felt like they were a being ungrateful twits. Hadn’t they seen enough of God’s power to trust God to take care of them?

But now I realize that’s not what their reaction was about.

A couple days later, this individual called back in a completely improved frame of mind, ready to move ahead in her life, having made a big decision (a right and good one) that only days before she had been too incapacitated to even consider. Mentioning the previous call, she said she realized she had been having a PTSD meltdown.

She had previously been diagnosed with that, and truly had been through a lot. Apparently the feeling is you just hit a wall where you can’t cope. Once she realized that’s what was going on, she knew steps to take to move past that feeling. Apparently, it is not all that clear what triggers this, and thankfully, it hadn’t happened to her for over a year, during which she’s been stalwartly surmounting more than you can imagine, surrounded by angels on every side.

Anyway, when I heard this, I finally understood the children of Isreal in the desert. They had been though so much too!  It wasn’t that they were ungrateful so much as they were at a point where all they had been though simply caught up with them a bit. And just because they’d experienced miraculous deliverance, didn’t mean they suddenly trusted and understood God. They needed some healing first, and have some time to process it all.

I’m grateful for this new insight into an old story. I’m grateful we now have language and terms with which to better to understand how we feel, because articulation is the first step toward understanding. Thankfully, this woman called for help in her dark hour, and later could sum up the experience in a term, which she’ll get better at not allowing in as part of her life.

She says she’s afraid of change, but all the massive change that’s happened in the last year for her has been progressive and good. You can’t have progress without change. I told her that God is both infinite and unchanging, and she will always have that reassuring presence with her that she can count on, even when humanly things are constantly modifying so transformation can take place.

I suppose this fact is why even our armed services list spirituality as the best solution to PTSD. That means she’s well on her way, as were the Israelites, since both have had spirituality overtly helping them through. God will always deliver us all the way out of anything unlike God, and we all eventually, like the children of Isreal, will arrive at the promised land having learned that.

(detail of Psalm 91 painting (oil) by Polly Castor)
I work to amplify good wherever I find it. I love color, texture, beauty, great ideas, nature, metaphor, deliciousness, genuine spirituality, and exploring new territory. I encourage authenticity, nurture creativity, champion sustainability, promote peace, and hope to foster a new renaissance where we all are free to be our most fulfilled, multifaceted, and terrific selves. Read more here.

1 Comment

  1. Joseph D Herring 9 months ago


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