Bible Help

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

For several, seemingly endless years, the possibility of Janiceís worst nightmares materializing was terrifyingly real. I wonít attempt to convey the horrors she suffered and the atrocities she had witnessed since infancy because to detail a mere one percent would take a huge webpage. Although exhausted beyond description, she would force herself to stay awake; sitting on the floor guarding the room where her baby slept. She was too terrified to nod off to sleep for fear that if she did her baby would be kidnapped. This was despite her chances of being able to fend off the armed and overpoweringly strong criminal being virtually zero. The impossible combination of terror and excessive exhaustion eventually led to her sleeping with her eyes open Ė something she sometimes does even now.

For years, a custody battle raged in the courts over her baby. Unlike most cases, however, what was at stake was not merely losing access to her baby but the real possibility of it leading to her baby being killed or denied medical treatment and forced to beg on the streets of a third world country. False witnesses were tricked, bribed and/or threatened into swearing malicious lies against her in court, and a powerful international gang of thugs was also involved. Against all the odds, she was finally granted the right to keep her baby, but for years many possible reasons for her child being taken from her lingered, even though it became increasingly unlikely.

Twenty years later, however, Janice knows that none of the harrowing threats ever materialized. She can now see how, just as he had promised, God had kept miraculously intervening for her. She can look back and know she has a long history of winning when everything seemed atrociously stacked against her. In many ways, however, fear still torments her, producing many sleepless nights and panic attacks. Her now groundless fears obviously stem from those dreadful years when only God knew how well things would turn out. The times when she did not know the outcome were so traumatic and vividly etched into her mind (regularly reinforced by nightmares, flashbacks, and the like) as to totally eclipse her consciousness of how well it turned out. The scary parts are more vivid and seem more real to her than the happy ending.

I tried encouraging her with the reminder that she is not like new Christians who have to muster almost blind faith in a God they barely know. Instead, she has a long, proven track record of God being on her side, causing her to triumph in situations where victory had seemed impossible. Janice truly is a winner and her strength of character floods me with admiration but she has demonstrated over and over that all it takes to keep on winning Ė no matter what is thrown at us Ė is to be on Godís side. In the words of Scripture, ďIf God is for us, who can be against us?Ē (Romans 8:31).

Having learned that Janice had had yet another sleepless night, I hoped to unleash an inspirational torrent of words about how with God she had always ended up victorious and always will. To my astonishment, however, I had barely begun to warm my vocal cords when they screeched to a startled halt at something she said. The woman I so admired revealed that she never dares entertain the notion that she could win. No wonder she had often planned suicide! Nothing saps the will to keep on going like refusing to believe you will ever win. And hereís her reason for her determination to never believe in victory: she was afraid not to fear.

Having now uncovered the underlying problem, I am confident that with Godís help Janice will work through the issues and find the peace that has been so elusive. For your sake, however, I will briefly explore how easy it is for us to end up so addicted to fear that giving it up can seem as scary as a heroin addict contemplating giving up the drugs that are killing him.

Janice feared that faith in Godís protection would make her overconfident. She feared that by letting her guard down she would become vulnerable. Fear releases adrenaline and makes us hyper-vigilant against attack. For a little while, a rush of adrenaline makes us stronger but the cost is so high that before long it ends up sapping us of much-needed strength. We can do everything possible to protect ourselves against a surprise attack but it eventually becomes counterproductive. It ends up exhausting us and robbing us of strength and alertness. Moreover, it stops us from investing all our faith in God, where it should be for us to gain maximum protection. Faith that needs to be exclusively in God ends up diverted into faith in our own attempts to protect ourselves. Thatís like a drowning man letting go of a lifeboat to grab a broken twig.


A man who had been paralyzed for thirty-eight years was lying in the very place that was renowned for healing miracles and yet Jesus asked him if he wanted to be healed (John 5:6). On another occasion, a blind beggar refused to be shut up by the crowd but kept crying out to Jesus, ďSon of David, have mercy on me!Ē Yet again, Jesus took nothing for granted and asked him what he wanted (Mark 10:51).

We too, need to ask ourselves: are we just kidding ourselves or do we really want to be healed of crippling, blinding fear? Do we want to be at peace?

Fear is a lie that enslaves us. Jesus is the truth who sets us free. God and fear travel in totally different directions. To follow the divine Liberator we must leave fear behind. We cannot serve two masters. God is forever telling us not to fear; fear is forever telling us not to trust God. We must choose between trusting Jesus to save us and keep us safe or trusting fear to do it. What will we put our faith in: our own attempts to protect ourselves or the God who alone sees the future, sees every personís heart, is alert every millisecond of every day of every millennium, is never taken by surprise, has infinite wisdom and loves us more than we love ourselves?

As I have written elsewhere:

    I have explained in Christian Help and Inspiration When Gripped by Fear and Learned Helplessness: Why Bad Things Keep Happening to Some People how scientific experiments have confirmed the effect of a history of repeatedly being so overpowered that it is impossible to break free. It saps from us the drive needed to escape, even when we grow stronger and gaining freedom becomes easy. Being defeated in what is now the distant past has made you so used to being overpowered and having your hopes crushed that, now that it is easy, you do not want to even try to walk free. The prison door has been wide open for years but whether you walk out into the sunshine and truly enjoy life, or remain languishing in the dingy world of needless despondency and restrictions, is entirely your choice.

    Stop frittering your life away in unnecessary inner pain, despair and defeatism. Lift up your eyes and let God inspire you. The Almighty believes in you. Keep asking him for his passion for truth, victory, healing and wholeness.

    Like the ancient Israelites, it is up to you whether you keep wandering in the wilderness or enter the Promised Land divinely prepared for you. It takes courage to enter into all of the blessings and fulfillment and achievements God longs to lavish upon you. As with the Israelites, it is simply a matter of faith Ė believing that because God is on your side you can do it. You donít even have to believe in yourself. Simply believe that God is not so pathetically weak that your weakness could ever negate his power. The danger feels so oppressively real but it is just a feeling; not reality. Take Godís hand and walk through the open door.

Will you walk out of fearís torture chamber? You might need a massive change of mindset. Fear is not a friend. Will you treat it as your savior, or choose Jesus? You cannot follow both Jesus and fear, because they travel in very different directions.

I would be appalled if my words were twisted in a sensitive mind to add to anyoneís distress by contributing to a single person feeling condemned over feelings and involuntary reactions. You deserve better from me. I have devoted an entire webpage to explaining how fear does not respond to logic, nor does it vanish in the face of will-power (see Help & Cure: Fear, Phobias, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Nevertheless, we need to at least know our friends from our enemies: God is our friend; fear is our enemy. My longing is not to insult you with pat answers but to inspire you to relinquish faith in fear and keep building faith in your divine deliverer; the loving Lord who is the master of the surprise happy ending.

As thrilling and inspiring as miracles are, virtually no one in the Bible experienced a miracle without first being painfully sick or in a distressing or even terrifying situation. Dreaded events are not the end but the precursor to exciting things. Consider the faith heroes acclaimed in Hebrews Eleven. All of them were victorious but they are heroes only because they faced situations that every sane person would want to avoid. None of them liked their initial situation but it ended up exceedingly worth it and they are now the envy of millions. Hard times did not mean God was not with them, nor that they were doomed to defeat. Dark times simply made them shine.

And you were born to continue this tradition.

Like Joseph, sold into slavery by his own family, then falsely accused of a hideous crime, forgotten by the prisoner he had helped, and left to rot in prison; like David fleeing Saulís repeated attempts to murder him when his would-be killer had under his command every citizen and the entire nationís military might, then Davidís house being plundered and burned to the ground, his family kidnapped and his once-loyal friends so enraged against them that they, too, began plotting to kill him, and later David having to run for his life from his own son, Absalom, who had amassed an army to steal the throne from him; like Job losing all his wealth and all his children and even his health and his reputation, with even his best friends accusing him of sin; like Jonah thrown overboard in a raging sea and swallowed by a sea monster; like Daniel fed to the lions and his friends fed to the flames; and like so many others crammed between Bible covers and spilling out to literally millions more down through history all the way to you and even to Almighty God himself who is continually mocked and rejected: things can look disastrous in the short term. Nevertheless, with good reason Scripture declares:

    Micah 7:8 Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light.

    Proverbs 24:16 for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again . . .

    Psalm 34:19 A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all

    Psalm 37:23-24 If the LORD delights in a manís way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand. (Emphasis mine)

    Psalm 107:13-14 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains.

    John 16:33  . . . In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

    2 Corinthians 2:14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession . . .

    Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

    1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

    1 John 4:4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

    1 John 5:4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

Permit me to quote from another of my webpages:

    The Showdown

    It was a duel between spiritual super-powers: the false gods of Egypt versus the one true God. Aaron throws down a rod. The stick becomes a writhing snake. What a victory Ė the raw power of God spectacularly displayed in the very court of Pharaoh. Face it, Pharaoh, youíve backed a loser! Heathen sorcerers step forward. They drop their rods and each squirms to life. Before Pharaohís eyes is Mosesí solitary snake, hopelessly outnumbered by the magiciansí slithering brood (Exodus 7:9-12).

    * * *

    . A homeward-bound Levite needed to lodge for the night. Though a pagan place was more convenient, he chose the security of an Israelite town. Here heíd sleep peacefully, surrounded by Godís people. But to his horror, he discovered these people, despite having known Godís blessing and his laws, were more depraved than the heathen. Given half a chance, they would have raped him. They abused his concubine all night. She was dead by morning. An Israelite town had slumped to the putrid decadence of Sodom and Gomorrah.

    Outraged, the Levite summoned the whole of Israel. Godís law was explicit: those murderous perverts must die. But their tribe refused to hand them over. The entire tribe was so committed to wickedness that the Benjamites resolved to fight, if necessary to death, against the united armies of the whole nation, rather than allow the execution of Godís law.

    Greatly disturbed, the faithful sought God. It would have been tempting to by-pass this step. They were obviously in the right and the odds were heavily in their favor. Though the Benjamites had a few skilled fighters, they were their brethren, not some super-race, and Israel outnumbered them, 400,000 to less than 27,000. But they did the right thing. They consulted God, and he so approved that he gave them his strategy. On their side were natural superiority, righteousness, divine approval, and the wisdom and infinite might of the Lord of hosts. In obedience to their Lord, they marshaled their forces, high in faith and in the power of God.

    And they were slaughtered. In one day 22,000 of them were slain.

    They wept. They prayed. They sought the Lord again. Empowered by a fresh word from God, they mobilized for the second day. And 18,000 more of them were massacred (Judges chapters 19-20).

    * * *

    The mighty Son of God came to earth. This was the climax of a divine plan conceived before the earth was formed, and for millennia intricately woven into the fabric of human history. It was the showdown: creature versus Creator, dust versus divinity, filth versus purity, mortality versus immortality.

    And Jesus died.

    * * *

    In Pharaohís court, occult powers miraculously produce many times more vipers than God. In the time of the judges, Godís forces are routed by an army of inferior strength. At Calvary, Godís Son is dead.

    How I thank God for the Bible! Few other Christian books tell it as it really is: you can be flowing in the power of God, following his instructions to the letter in absolute purity and be routed by Satanís puny forces.

    But only for a season.

    Aaronís rod swallowed up the sorcerersí rods. On the third day, Israel crushed the Benjamites. And Jesus, on the third day, swallowed up death, having crushed the devil.

    * * *

Expressed poetically:

    Hounded by defeat,
    Immersed in gloom.
    Confounded by a curse,
    Scorned and spurned.
    Haunted by despair,
    Mocked by words of doom.
    My eyes may fill with tears,
    But not with dread or fear.

    This grub, wings will sprout.
    This down-trodden worm will soar;
    Transformed by redemptive power,
    Set free by the Lord of all.
    No one sees it yet:
    The secretís heaven-kept.
    They mock and jeer
    They do not know;
    Success is slow, but it is sure;
    Though it tarry, it will come.
    All Father touches turns to gold.
    It matters not what others say,
    The winningís done;
    Like Father, like son!

    Founded on his Word;
    Embalmed by love.
    Surrounded by his arms;
    Washed and warmed.
    Granted all I need,
    Buoyed by thoughts above:
    From fear I find release,
    Becalmed by heavenís peace.

Hereís my final attempt to express this profound truth:

    God is making a smart cookie:
    If Iím covered with spilt milk, thatís marvelous.
    If thereís egg on my face, itís a bonus.
    If Iím mixed up, Iím delighted.
    If Iím beaten, Iím making progress.
    If the heat is on, Iíll warm to my task.
    If Iím half-baked, something good is cooking.
    When I feel I could crumble, Iím nearing perfection.
    Everything is going my way.


Nearly a hundred times in the Bible God says not to fear/be afraid. And I havenít even attempted to count all the times he tells us to put our faith in him. God is mind-bogglingly smart: he knows what is best for us. And God is love: he wants what is best for us. So regardless of how strongly we might feel that it is safe and smart to keep fearing and to doubt that God will cause us to win, those feelings are at odds with the God of truth and love. Such feelings are deceptive. They are nothing but swindlers trying to con us out of Godís best.

Feelings can keep bugging us like pesky flies but we donít have to keep believing them. Peace might seem elusive but we donít have to fear peace. We donít have to condemn ourselves over finding it frustratingly difficult to trust God with all our heart, but neither do we have to fear building up faith that God is on our side and that with him we are winners.

Important Related Reading

To not lose these valuable links,
record the web address of this webpage

If fear is a serious issue with you, please ensure you have read:

Fear & Phobias: Help & Cure

Fear of Failure, Fear of Rejection, Fear of Obeying God, Fear of Pain

For a basic understanding of PTSD:

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Building your faith that things will turn out well:

Thereís Hope! A Sane Guide to Finding Hope When There is No Hope

Webpages on Related Topics:

Help When Doubt Knocks: How to Grow in Faith

Afraid of God? The Cure

How to Change Your Self-Image

Peace: Godís Supernatural Answer to Worry, Panic, Fear and Doubt

Comfort for the Guilt-Ridden Conscience

Deepening Your Awareness of Godís Love for You

You: More Powerful & Capable Than You Thought. Christian Encouragement

Praise: Godís Anti-depressant

God Isnít Fair?

More About Learned Helplessness

Scrupulosity: Fear of Your Own Thoughts or Fear of Being Unforgivable

Not to be sold. © Copyright, 2014, Grantley Morris. May be freely copied in whole or in part provided: it is not altered; this entire paragraph is included; readers are not charged and it is not used in a webpage. Many more compassionate, inspiring, sometimes hilarious writings available free online at  Freely you have received, freely give. For use outside these limits, consult the author.

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