The relationship between God and trauma has been a topic of conversation between my friends and I for several years. A natural response to trauma is for us to question, “Why?”
I recently listened to Kate Braestrup’s podcast, Presence in the Wild. Kate works with law enforcement to bring comfort to grieving families and law enforcement personnel in the midst of tragedies. Her podcast gave me another perspective regarding the presence of God in trauma. Her insights on providing comfort gave me pause for thought.
First, she says, when looking for God in the aftermath of trauma we are looking in the wrong place. We ask God why this trauma was allowed to happen, even though we realize that death is a certainty of life. Instead, Kate states, we need to look for glimpses of God in how people love each other during these times. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit that allows us to nurture and care for each other. If we stop and allow ourselves to pause a moment, we become able to see a “glimpse of Jesus” through the individuals, oftentimes strangers, who come together to offer assistance. Kate reminds us that God is present in trauma. God is among the grieving, and is made known through those who come to offer help in a time of need.
Kate says the best thing to do when another is experiencing trauma is to, “show up, shut your mouth, and just be.” By doing so, we are letting God work in that person. To do otherwise would be acting as if we know God’s intention for that person in this moment.
Our natural response is to want to take away the pain, but we are not able to. That is not our role. We must step back and realize pain is not necessarily bad. At one time or another, we will all experience pain. And, if we are honest, we know it is in our darkness that we cry out for the light of Jesus and healing happens. So, when those we love are in the midst of dark moments, we can listen and wait with them while God is doing his healing work within.
For more about this, you might appreciate Kate’s podcast at: http://www.onbeing.org/program/presence-wild/144