The Crisis Of Psalms 91

No matter how much we prayed, read or preached about God’s protection and refuge, Soldiers were still dying.

For those who struggle with the spiritual aspect of PTSD, the challenge to one’s faith can be just as daunting as dealing with the emotional aspect of PTSD. When it comes to reconciling one’s faith with traumatic experiences we often find ourselves expressing statements like these: “I can’t trust God anymore.”
 “I thought God would answer my prayers.”
“I can’t believe in God’s presence, power, or character anymore.” 
“God has abandoned me.” “I am angry at God.”
“My faith isn’t big enough to handle this.”
“God is punishing me.”

Throughout the Psalms, David writes concerning the questioning of his faith and why God seemed to have forsaken him.

Psalms 13:1-4 “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.”

Psalms 22:1-2 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.”

David wrote over seventy-five desolate, anguish-filled passages like this in the Psalms. He struggled intensely with trauma and spiritual injury that comes with enduring trauma. These questions are common among those who have faith in God and who face trauma. Trauma and the effects of PTSD will often shake the foundation of one’s faith, sometimes to the point that we “lose” our faith completely. While deployed to Iraq from October 2006 – January 2008, I faced my own crisis of faith. I called it the Psalms 91 crisis.

Psalms 91:1-7 “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand but it will not come near you.”

I saw and heard this Psalm quoted throughout both of my deployments to Iraq. During the summer of 2007, I finally found myself questioning the truth of Psalms 91. I started to become bitter and angry with God. No matter how much we prayed, read or preached about God’s protection and refuge, Soldiers were still dying. I came to a point where I could no longer reconcile what I read in the Psalms with what I saw and experienced. I struggled with this crisis for many years. No matter the progress I was making towards recovery, I harbored this spiritual anger towards God for allowing so many people to die. As God slowly healed my spiritual anger, He revealed the many ways He unquestionably provides protection from harm and was, in fact, a refuge to others and myself. In acknowledging this, I had to accept the truth that war is not of God, but is the result of the fallenness of man and in itself is evil. As in all things sinful and evil, there are consequences and often times the consequences are severe. Combat deaths are not the result of God’s inability to save and protect but is the natural result of the evilness of war. When I came to this understanding, the healing of my spiritual injury began. It was not instantaneously but rather a gradual reaffirming of my faith in God and a testimony to the graciousness and patience of a loving Heavenly Father.

My Thoughts On Memorial Day

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The last few days I have seen and read different post, tweets and Facebook post concerning Memorial Day. Some have been solemn as the author shares their memories of lost family members or battle buddies. I have read other posts where people are wishing others a happy Memorial Day. Others are reminding folks as they enjoying the day at the beach or having BBQs they should stop and remember those who laid down their lives for the cause of freedom. Some posters are even angry and mean-spirited, attacking those who spend the day with their families and friends enjoying their time together. It is clear there is no well-defined consensus on how Memorial Day should be observed. Some advocate that Memorial Day should always fall on May 30th as it was initially intended and not on the last Monday of May. Others want Memorial Day to not be an official holiday but a day of remembrance and honor as veterans Day is observed. Many see Memorial Day as only the first day of summer and forget there is a reason we observe a day of memorial for those who died in service to our country.

It is not my intention to present arguments to defend or attack anyone’s observation of Memorial Day. I just want to share my thoughts on Memorial Day. I do not get offended when people spend time with families and friends and enjoy themselves on Memorial Day. I do not resent those who go to the beach, the lake, and the back yard BBQs or parties over the Memorial Day weekend. Because I am reminded the reason we are able to enjoy this weekend is a direct result of those who gave their lives for our Nation. Because of them, we enjoy the freedom to spend the day at the beaches, the lakes, gathering together as friend and families and doing so without fear. I am reminded there are many people who were never able to enjoy a day together with family and friends; because no one ever stood up for freedom or was willing to lay down their lives for the cause of freedom. I am moved by those who post pictures, memories, poems and Scripture verses in remembrance of those who have died, in doing so they make observing Memorial Day more personal. I am proud to watch official Memorial Day observances, parades and to watch the National Memorial Day Concert on PBS each year. It reminds me of how unique and special we are as a nation as we remember our fallen heroes. I find courage as I pass cemeteries and see the individual flags that mark the graves of our fallen Veterans knowing this great nation exist because of these men and women. I am proud as an American to honor and remember all those who were willing to give their last full measure of devotion.

I am saddened there are many who see Memorial Day as just the beginning of the summer vacation season and I get irritated when people wish others a happy memorial day. I am not angry with them nor do I resent them. To tell the truth I pity them, as they will never fully understand nor appreciate the sacrifice that was made on their behalf. Yet, their actions or lack of action in honoring our fallen heroes does not in any way diminish the great sacrifice our service men and women made for this Nation.