A Christian counselor on how Scripture keeps score—and the help we find beyond its pages.
People used to avoid discussing their trauma, eager not to reopen old wounds or expose their vulnerabilities. Not so anymore. Survivors recount horrific experiences and bring up trauma language in everyday conversations—even with strangers on Twitter.
This shift in how we talk about the painful things we’ve been through may be uncomfortable for some, especially those not used to considering the pervasive nature of trauma. But psychologist Diane Langberg captures well what we perceive as Christians: “Trauma is the mission field of our time.”
As a counselor and seminary professor, I get asked about what it means to be “trauma-informed” as society increasingly recognizes the enduring impact that traumatic situations can have upon people. Survivors are interested in “trauma-informed” therapists, counselors, and materials because such a term offers hope that there may be something that was missing from other forms of care. Other well-meaning individuals find the term puzzling, wondering if it is simply a buzzword of the day. For Christians, another question quickly spirals out from there: Is the Bible trauma informed?
I’m grateful the men and women of the church are asking these kinds of questions. As Christians, we want first and foremost to be biblical, and asking some variant of “What hath the Bible to do with trauma?” safeguards us from over-spiritualizing or under-spiritualizing trauma.
The Bible as a record of trauma
Let’s start by defining trauma. Broader and narrower definitions exist, each with their own merit, but trauma generally constitutes a reaction to the extreme stress caused by the threat of severe harm. If someone asks whether the Bible recognizes …