Hi, my name is Andy and I have Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
I share this little piece of my medical history with you as an encouragement, not a plea for sympathy. You may be asking, “How can this possibly be encouraging info?” I am convinced that God has blessed me with PTSD so that I might learn to trust in Him more fully.
I want to point you to a Bible passage often used to encourage those who are anxious for one thing or another, and provide three ways I apply this passage in my life with the hope that I might serve as an example to you when you feel anxious.
The passage is 1 Peter 5:6-7:
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”
Without further ado, here’s the three ways I apply this passage in my life as I seek after God in the midst of my own challenges:
1. I humble myself by seeking God’s perspective.
One of the many ways PTSD affects me is an inability to distinguish between when a situation is a danger to me or not. My “fight or flight response” has been set to “fight.” Whenever I encounter a situation in which I feel threatened, I must humble myself by admitting that my perception of what is going on is probably wrong — like in the 99.9 percent probability range.
I force myself to pray and ask God to make me able to see what is actually going on. Likewise, I must rely on those around me to determine how a “normal” person is responding to the same stimuli. Trust me when I say this is almost always a difficult, but not impossible, exercise.
2. I trust God with the situation.
This may appear to be a cliché, but I assure you it is not. For 22 years, I was trained to be self-reliant and to always move forward regardless of the situation. I was institutionalized into the concept that the only one to handle the situation was me and the fellows to my left and right. Also, failing at any given task was unacceptable and not part of the plan of the day.
Many of these things God used to bring me to salvation since I had a deep understanding of personal responsibility and accountability. But these same understandings can also lead to sinful self-reliance. So what does all this have to do with trusting God with the situation? In addition to seeking God’s perspective so that I might see things as they are instead of how I perceive them, I trust that whatever outcome God has in any given moment is the best one possible. In other words, I trust God with my life the same way I used to trust the man to my left or right. Only in this case, God is ultimately able to preserve me, either here on earth or by bringing me home to heaven.
3. I enjoy God’s provision.
This last point is most directly related to the preceding point about trust. When I trust God to provide for my safety — whether temporal or eternal — I am reminded of His great love for me! If God demonstrated His love by sending Christ to die for me (Romans 5:8) then surely I can rest in the knowledge that He has my best interest in mind — all of the time!
In light of 1 Peter 5:6-7, it is the reason given for being humble and trusting God with your problems in the first place. In other words, because God cares for me, I actually have nothing in the world to be concerned over because God knows what I need even before I discover it for myself. (Matthew 6:8)
I know I have made this appear to be an easy process to work through each time I (or you) encounter an anxious moment. I know it’s not, and to tell the truth, without Christ it is more than not easy — it’s impossible. It really doesn’t matter what you worry about. Turn to Christ and place your full trust and confidence in Him. Trust Him for your salvation and then continue trusting Him for everything.
Andy Lynch is pastor at Stansbury Park Baptist Church.