This is the final post in my series about my journey with PTSD. My purpose in writing this blog has been to help others who might be going through something similar. I have shared my story over the last six posts, and today I will share about what I feel I have gained from this difficult season.
When you go through a trying time, it is important to try to see what good has come from it. Romans 8:28 says that “All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purposes.” I’m sure in the future as I look back, I will see much more, but here are some things that I feel I have received from this experience:
I have always been an empathetic person, but this season has brought it to a whole new level, especially in regards to those who are suffering with mental health issues, or are going through a hard time. Empathy leads to compassion. The Bible says that Jesus was moved with compassion for others. There is a power and authority that comes on our ministry to others, when we truly understand what they are going through, and are filled with genuine compassion for them. I hope to be like Peter was with the beggar (Acts 3). Peter looked straight at him, commanded him to be well in Jesus’ name, and took his hand and helped him up; he was then immediately healed. To me the “looking straight at him” represents empathy, you actually really “see” the person. He commanded him to be well, which represents prayer and ministry to me. But he also reached down and helped him up, which represents actually “doing” something for the people you want to help. And then he was healed. I hope that I will be able to help others through my empathy, compassion, prayer, ministry, listening, encouraging, and through my writing.
Better overall health
I have always tried to look after my health, but going through this time has helped me to get even more good things in place in my life, healthwise. I am grateful for this, because I think these will be lifelong changes that will not only benefit me, but also my family.
Renewed appreciation for the worldwide church family
During this season I reached out to my friends by occasionally posting on Facebook and asking for prayer. It wasn’t easy to do this; it was very humbling. But I am glad that I did. I have never been more grateful for my Christian family around the world. I felt so supported by prayer. I was greatly encouraged by emails, messages, texts, and just good advice, from so many friends around the world. It was a beautiful thing.
He might not rescue you out of it, but He WILL walk with you through it
If God is good, then why do bad things happen to good people? It’s a question that many people struggle with. It is something that I grappled with in my own experience. I won’t pretend to have all the answers to this question. I do know that we live in an imperfect world; Heaven will be perfect, there will be no pain and no tears. This life on earth, however, is filled with joy, love, and beauty, but also pain, sorrow, and suffering. The profound truth is that we can know and experience God in the good of life, but also (I feel more deeply) in the bad times. The Bible is filled with stories of people; real people, who went through the ups and downs of real life, and God was ever-present for them; loving them, guiding them, comforting them, speaking to them.
We can’t avoid the difficult times in life, but we can experience the love and presence of God in the midst of the pain. And we can know that He is holding our hand and walking us through it into healing and freedom. His heart is for freedom, healing, and redemption. In every difficult thing we go through, He can bring His redemptive touch.
I found this to be true for me. He didn’t save me out of the pain, but He was with me in it, and He walked me through it. I can’t imagine navigating what I just went through, without His constant love, comfort, and words of truth and hope.
Fruitfulness from pain
Trials can produce good character, and amazing fruitfulness can come from a trying time. Here are two Scriptures that have spoken to me about fruitfulness coming from a time of pain:
“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” John 12:24
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:1-2.
I am praying and asking God for much fruitfulness in my life as a result of this trial.
Keeping the place you’ve gained
When Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land, they had to possess and keep the land that God have given them. This can be the same for us, spiritually. When we have fought for, and taken possession of something that is rightfully ours, sometimes we have to be vigilant to keep it.
This is what happened to me. During this season I came up against fear in a way I had never experienced it before. Through perseverance I found freedom from that fear. But I had to guard that place of freedom.
Back in December my daughter suddenly had a big lump on her collarbone. We initially thought it might just be a swollen gland, but we took her to the doctor to have it checked. She then had two x-rays, and the doctor scheduled her for an ultrasound. About five weeks ago she had the ultrasound. They saw a “mass” in her bone. The doctor was very concerned by what he saw and then scheduled her for an MRI. At this point fear came pounding on my door – loudly and unceasingly.
She had the MRI which confirmed that there was a mass in her bone. The doctors told us it was most likely a tumor, either benign or malignant. They told us she would have to have a biopsy at a hospital in London.
For four weeks we had to wait to find out if she was OK, or if we were about to walk down the most difficult road we had ever been on. All the while I had to stare fear in the face and say, “You will NOT come back into my life. You will NOT have that ground back.” This was an almost constant battle, and not easy for someone recovering from PTSD. God spoke to me through a dream in the midst of it, and I clung to what He said.
Finally, they had her come in for another MRI, and afterwards we were told that it was not a tumor, but an inflammation that should subside by adulthood. Oh, the relief!
Through those weeks I kept my ground, and fear did not get to come back into my life. That ground, that freedom is mine.
God is more committed to His plans for your life than you are
My husband and I both had a sense of being called by God, that we wanted to live our lives wholly for Him, since we first found Him in our late teens. We met in England in our early twenties and married. We then continued to have this sense of calling as a couple. We pursued this together over the years. But we had several difficult years before we moved back to England, which left us feeling tired, and frankly a bit burnt out. We came to the point where we decided to lay all of our hopes and dreams at His feet. We felt we just needed rest and peace; a quiet life. This was good, and I believe it was what we truly needed.
I have had a fire deep in my heart for God ever since I first found Him. So living a quiet life was lovely and had its benefits, but this fire was still deep inside, stirring. It didn’t go away, and I didn’t know what to do with it, or have any outlet for it.
When I had my traumatic experience, I actually thought that I might die. As I came through, God began to immediately speak to me again about His purposes for my life. All of that sense of calling came back. I knew that His promises over me were still true, and as He brought it all back to me, I knew that He was actually more committed to His purposes for my life than I was. This was so humbling and beautiful to me. I found my sense of calling and my fire again.
I now truly know that “He who began a good work in me will carry it to completion.” Philippians 1:6
This has been the hardest season of my life, by far. I hope that just as Jesus was tested in the desert and came out in the power of the Holy Spirit, that I will come out of this desert experience more filled with his Spirit, and empowered to help others.
Psalm 66 says:
For you, God, tested us;
you refined us like silver.
We went through fire and water,
but you brought us to a place of abundance.
I believe that this season has been a refining process for me. I believe that I am coming out like gold refined in the fire. I believe that I am coming out into a place of abundance. And I believe all of this for you, too.