Tag Archives: God’s presence in trials

Fighting Demons

Pittsburgh Steelers v. New England Patriots (2005) (CC BY-SA 3.0 Gen)

Pittsburgh Steelers v. New England Patriots at Heinz Field (2005), Author Bernard Gagnon (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Fighting the demons of anxiety, depression, and PTSD is a little like playing football [1][2].  We make headway then lose ground.  But the fight never really ends, not the way a game of football does.  There is no score.

We win by surviving another day.

Across Decades

It can be enormously discouraging to wrestle with the scars of abuse, decade in and decade out.  Surely, we must after all this time have made progress.

But progress is not linear.  Despite the passage of time, and an extensive list of medications – not to mention therapy – familiar demons can resurface.

Factors Impacting Our Success

So, are anxiety, depression, and PTSD ever really “conquered”?  Can they, at least, be fought to a standstill?  The answer depends.

The factors include the length and severity of the trauma we sustained; our particular genetics; the quality and extent of our medical treatment; our psychological and spiritual resources; the emotional support we have available; and the other stressors to which we are subjected.

None of these can be quantified.  Most can and do vary over the course of a lifetime.

The Struggle

Why not just throw in the towel (to mix sports metaphors)?  After all, the struggle is exhausting.  The struggle, however, is life. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Poverty, Rape, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault, Sports, Violence Against Women

Jellyfish

Cyanea jellyfish, North Sea, Author Ole Kils olekils@web.de (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported, GNU Free Documentation License)

Jellyfish are equipped with stinging tentacles used to paralyze, capture, and kill their prey.  The largest known specimen, the lion’s mane or giant jelly, has tentacles which can reach 120 feet in length.  That is longer than a blue whale.

The sting of a jellyfish can be agony.  In humans, that sting can cause burning and blistering of the skin, difficulty breathing, changes in heart rate, chest pain, abdominal cramps, vomiting, muscle spasms, numbness, weakness, and collapse.

The tentacles can sting, even after a jellyfish has died.

The Tentacles of Abuse

Like jellyfish, abuse has long tentacles.  Rather than extending into deep water, those tentacles extend across the years.  But their sting can still be agony.  Like the tentacles of jellyfish, the tentacles of abuse can paralyze, capture, and in some cases kill.

Real Wounds

Whether we suffer with physical ailments and visible scars or with depression, anxiety, and PTSD, the wounds stemming from our abuse are severe and real.  We are not weak.  We are not malingering.

It is, in some ways, easier when our wounds can be seen by the naked eye.  Burns are recognizable as such.  By contrast, the wounds of many abuse victims cannot be bandaged or sutured.  Invisible, those wounds can yet be deadly.

Long-Term Damage

Because it was inflicted early in our lives, while we were most vulnerable, the damage done by abuse is long-lasting and multi-faceted.  Victims must endure it for decades, across the full range of life activities.  This can be exhausting.

Eventually, we may feel overwhelmed by anxiety or depression, as if we were drowning; may feel trapped by our past, despite our best efforts; may feel wrongly that ending our lives is the only way out. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

All the Jenises

The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him” (Nahum 1: 7).

A little girl named Jenise died this week [1]. Just six years old, Jenise was raped and murdered by a seventeen year old neighbor in the Washington trailer park where she lived. The teen accused of the crime has been arrested.

But Jenise was not the only child in jeopardy in recent weeks. Around the globe, children’s lives have been at risk from factors equally beyond their control.

  • Shrapnel-torn corpses rained from the sky, after Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was shot down by separatists in the Ukraine [2]. The belongings of children were randomly scattered across the debris field.
  • Children in Gaza are dying as a by-product of Israel’s ground war there [3]. Both sides have blood on their hands. The practice by Hamas of shielding military operations by civilian targets has contributed to the death toll. Misdirected fire by Hamas has, also, resulted in the death and injury of children. As of this writing, the rocket bombardment by Hamas which initiated the conflict continues.
  • In Iraq, some quarter million refugees have fled in advance of the Islamic militant group ISIS [4]. Some 40,000 of these (including 25,000 children) from a Kurdish religious sect that predates Islam have been under siege on Mt. Sinjar without supplies. The United States is now providing aid and cover on a limited basis.
  • The world’s worst Ebola outbreak is raging in West Africa, with fears it will spread [5]. The disease has a fatality rate as high as 90%. Over 900 deaths have occurred to this point. Children who have not themselves contracted the disease may still lose one or both parents to it.

Few things drive home our crushing limitations more so than the death of children does. War, crime, and illness pull back the curtain on a painful reality, and we see clearly how little control we have over our lives. That information can rock us to our core.

We may never understand, on an emotional level, why God allowed Jenise’s suffering. We can be sure, however, her suffering pained Him, more even than it does us.

God hears the cries from Gaza and Mt. Sinjar, as He does those from Nigeria, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. He knows all the Jenises.

At a time like this – when lights seem to be going out across the world – it is more urgent than ever we keep faith and bear witness to the truth. God is not impotent. Nor has He abandoned us. To the contrary, He gave His life for ours.

Men and women of goodwill play a vital role in sharing the love of God with the world, and spreading the Good News of Salvation. We must not permit what appears the increasing presence of evil to undermine our resolve. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Justice, Politics, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Terrorism