Tag Archives: redemption

74: Night Terrors (trauma trigger warning)

 

74 night terrors CORRIDOR 13

When I think my bed will comfort me and my couch will ease my complaint, even then you frighten me with dreams and terrify me with visions, so that I prefer strangling and death, rather than this body of mine.” Job 7: 13-15 NIV

Given that Job had been through a set of traumatic losses, it is perhaps no wonder that he began to exhibit the symptoms of what we might well recognise today as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Two of the worst parts of this distressing condition are the reliving of the trauma, like a waking nightmare, and what we call night terrors, which are horrifically realistic nightmares, of such power that shake and scream in your sleep. In a bad phase, getting any real rest, let alone refreshing sleep, is nigh on impossible. I can’t help but feel this is what Job is describing here, it sounds so similar.

In any case, there is no rest from the horror of what he has been through. We might think he is mistaken in attributing this part of his suffering to his body, as it seems a straightforwardly mental disorder, but this is not the case. More and more we are finding that the body holds the memory of traumatic events and replays them, reacting in fight or flight modes. An episode triggered by a memory (this can be anything, even a song, a phrase, sound or taste that has some kind of connection to whatever happened to us) is intensely physical as well as emotional and mental. Trauma sufferers experience their pain holistically and it is one of the reasons it is so horrendous.

Another effect of great suffering and loss is that we lose our hope. “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and they come to an end without hope,” says Job, “…and my eyes will never see happiness again.” (Job 7: 6-7 partial NIV). Thankfully as we read Job’s story, we find that it does have a happy ending, since the second half of his life is doubly blessed and he receives a great deal more than he ever did before. But, perhaps tellingly, there is no mention of healing. I personally believe that Job’s wholeness is restored by and in his encounter with the Living God. Such an encounter, which chooses to meet us where we are without answering our myriad of questions; which chooses to show us the great I AM in all the Lord’s glory (and therefore goodness), is powerful beyond all measure and redeems all our suffering, perhaps just as much by a healing of our perspective as of our wholeness as physical, mental, emotional and spiritual beings.

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from morguefile

If you or someone you love is affected by PTSD do check out the help available via your medical practitioner/GP  Here is a useful link: http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/#.V2P6m8vSnIU

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47: Vengeance

47 Christ-in-Judgement non cf

It was for me the day of vengeance;

the year for me to redeem had come.

I looked, but there was no one to help,

I was appalled that no one gave support;

so my own arm achieved salvation for me,

and my own wrath sustained me.

I trampled the nations in my anger;

in my wrath I made them drunk

and poured their blood on the ground.” Isaiah 63:4-6

 

The prophet Isaiah speaks to us about “the Day of the Lord” which seems to roughly equate with the idea of Judgement Day. The day when the Lord will judge and punish and set things right. It’s a difficult concept for Christians, so used as we are to hearing about grace and redemption and atonement. But for the Israelites a day of vengeance was a powerful and often much desired thing.

And we might say too that so many terrible atrocities have happened, that surely they must be righted somehow, paid for? And maybe we try to imagine that Jesus’ death on the cross accomplished that redemption. But then we think about Auschwitz, Nagasaki, the Khmer Rouge, genocides, rapes and tortures, and we think, that is paid for? That is healed? We wouldn’t doubt the power of the cross out loud mind you, as I seem to be doing here (I’m not, by the way, read on), just in case someone gets the wrong idea or doubts our faith, you know. Because Jesus did it all, didn’t he?

Then why does Revelation talk about the end times the way it does, in violence and judgement? And why this prophecy, where the right arm of God wreaks his destruction? And why does Isaiah move straight from this visionary figure dressed in bloody robes into praising God for his kindness and compassion?

We clearly need to find a way to reconcile the crucified Christ with the avenging Christ. Or to accept that we in our small minds cannot cope readily with the seeming paradox. But should it surprise us that the God who loves paradoxes contains so many of them himself?

We struggle with an angry, triumphant Messiah. We are often taught that Jesus is meek and mild, the Good Shepherd, tending his flock, playing with children, finding the lost. And such he is on one level. But he is also the One to whom all power and authority has been given and he is coming again in clouds of glory to judge. And lest we forget, he had no problem fashioning a whip out of cords and chasing the moneylenders out of the Temple. We wonder at the rabbinic saying, “God is not nice. God is not your uncle. God is an earthquake.” And yet such he is. But as Elijah discovered, he is also in the soft, still voice after the earthquake.

Two ideas may help us here, particularly when people dismiss such passages by saying we are living under a new covenant now where all is forgiven and no vengeance is necessary. Well, yes we are, but John’s vision in Revelation shows that the final battles are still to come.

One is that I know, with a certainty I can’t put into words, that kindness and compassion are what motivates God. Always and without exception. He does nothing that is not for the ultimate good of those he loves. And by that I don’t mean some chosen few, but all living things on this earth. I also know that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was, is, a universe-changing action. It was more powerful and all-encompassing than our feeble words can express and our brains know how to hold. More than salvation, more than redemption, more than atonement (huge as these things are), this was a fulcrum event in space and time that began to solve everything.

Yes, what happened on the cross, God’s beloved dying in obedient love for this world, was like the epicentre of God’s grace earthquake. Its power will never stop echoing out, transforming and healing all things. And by this we can see that sometimes God’s answers are bloody and that they have yet to come to full culmination. When heaven comes to earth, all will be accomplished. The victory is already assured, but we are told that heaven will be birthed here and should expect labour pains. If we read his word at all or keep our eyes open in this life, we know that redemption often comes by suffering and resurrection requires death. So we also know that God does not look at death the way we do. And that both wine and blood, the trampling of grapes of wrath and of nations, are methods in the Old Testament that seem to find their own redemption into grace by the sacrifice Jesus made. That gall, that vinegar of the Lord’s anger was turned into the pouring out of blood, of a new kind of wine.

 

©Keren Dibbens-Wyattt

Photo Philip Jackson’s “Christ in Judgement”, Chichester Cathedral

 

169: Car Park/Parking Lot

169 car park mf pippalou

Did we then, pave over Paradise, lost to us now? The concrete jungle grew so fast, who knew that it would spread, disease-like, steamrollering every green thing in its way? Well, here you are, flat and dull and painted with your borderlines, your cartoon people and wheelchairs, all white and flaking. Conveniently maintained and close, with trees strategically tubbed in unusable corners, rootballs festering.

But stand still here, and counterpointing the slamming of car doors, the loading and unloading, there is a whispering, a conferring, a conspiracy of growing things. They will rise up unheeded through the false rock, breaking apart the conglomerate, encroaching on your edges. They will not be thwarted, but spread their dandelion leaves and their sap-song along every unguarded crack in what is after all only surface, conquerors once more, earth regained.

© Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2016

Photo from morguefile.com

Day 116: Pebbles on the Shore

pebbles

Here on the sinking soft sand, place the pebbles of your problems, the stones that mark your failures, your inadequacies. Are they so very many? Let them sit a while in the golden grains, in preparation for what is to come. Lean back and watch the gentle wave ripple in and over these confessions, washing them clean.

What was dry and rough is now smooth and sparkling in a new dawning sunlight. There is nothing to be ashamed of here, only transformation, an offering given up in honest examen and left for me to tend to. Freshness abides. Stones sing Amazing Grace in the ebb and flow of living water.

© Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2015