Finding Victory Over the Aftermath of War—
The Battle Within
In the last three or four decades, the emotional effects of the horrors of war have been assigned the nomenclature of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In the two World Wars, it was frequently referred to as ‘shell shock’. Since there is undeniably psychological pathology as a result, the humanistic approach to ameliorating the effects has taken the route of psychotherapy on occasion but has been routinely treated with psychotropic drugs. While this has been a windfall for the drug companies, it has accomplished nothing but symptomatic treatment for the one so afflicted. The Veterans Administration (V.A.) continually attempts new ways to assist the suffering veterans, but it has become a difficult task with many veterans still suffering.
Due to the thousands of returning veterans, many of whom are diagnosed with PTSD, it becomes a massive problem with much of the burden falling on the Veterans Administration. Since the only answer they have is drugs, it is the treatment of choice to reduce the symptoms. Many proceed from this initiation to the drug world and turn to alcohol and street drugs, with a large number turning to crime to support their addiction, along with a rapidly increasing suicide rate.
According to a 2012 Veterans Affairs Report, over 30% of returning veterans, a staggering number of approximately 250,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, suffer from PTSD. Just this week, I heard from my sister that one of her in-laws had two sons who had returned from deployment in the Middle East and who had both become addicted to drugs and were stealing to support their habit; at this writing both are in jail.
Since the government cannot give a spiritual answer to this widespread phenomenon, and the Church does not due to the lack of emphasis on strategic pastoral counseling, such victims of war’s horrors are left with no safe haven in which to find a resolution to their suffering. Such neglect of man’s spirit, by only treating harm to his soul or personality, is demeaning to his entire being, as his spiritual essence is denied in the process.
We have seen the Spirit of God set people free from the effects of trauma, war and otherwise, for the past four decades. This model involves a radical departure from the treatment regimens prescribed by the disciplines of psychiatry and psychology which have proven to provide only symptomatic relief. Relieving the symptoms has only worsened the problem by covering it up until the individual is forced to take more extreme action. Since the Church has all but vacated the arena of soul care as a spiritual pursuit, it has educated many of its own to employ psychological treatment, while denying its birthright. That being the case, even the Church and academia are suspicious of our holding out a spiritual answer to what we see as essentially a spiritual problem with, oftentimes, major psychological and behavioral involvement.
My more than forty (40) years of full time ministry have witnessed such maladies as described above routinely resolved by the Spirit of God. This should be ample proof that God does work in this way presently! Though our pastoral counseling has not labeled such symptoms as PTSD, many would fit the definitions of that designator. God’s Spirit has transformed clients’ lives and released men and women from these devastating symptoms. While we are not holding that the etiology of PTSD is spiritual in nature, if there is a spiritual answer, and there is without doubt, then it is ultimately a spiritual problem!
As a result, we know that the majority of veterans diagnosed as PTSD could quickly find resolution, if they are open to yielding their lives to God’s working, rather than continuing with symptomatic treatment. However, we would advise them to allow medical personnel to withdraw drugs when they are no longer needed. Even though the treatment of PTSD is frequently complicated by a head injury, such insults to the brain do not prevent the Holy Spirit’s ministry to the psychological pathology, providing the person can yet process data.