Below is a podcast from the presentation of “Post-Traumatic Stress.” For the various counseling options available from this material visit

  • The “Post-Traumatic Stress” seminar is also available in video format.

NOTE: Many people have asked how they can get a copy of the seminar notebook referenced in this verbal presentation. You can request a copy from Summit’s admin over counseling at (please note this is an administrative account; no individual or family counsel is provided through e-mail).

Step 4
“God Is Dead, Life Is Meaningless, or I Am Crazy”
LEARN MY SUFFERING STORY which I use to make sense of my experience.

“I formed beliefs [describe what] about myself, my life, and God based on my trauma. I lived out of those beliefs [describe how] because they were all I knew and they ‘fit.’ Those beliefs became the guiding themes of my life story. Putting those beliefs into words scares me [describe why]. I reject that false narrative of my life and am committed to learning how my life fits into God’s great story of redemption.”

Memorize: Psalm 88:13-18 (ESV), “But I, O Lord, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you. O Lord, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me? Afflicted and close to death from my youth up, I suffer your terrors; I am helpless. Your wrath has swept over me; your dreadful assaults destroy me. They surround me like a flood all day long; they close in on me together. You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me; my companions have become darkness.” As you memorize this passage, reflect upon these key points:

  • Psalm 88 – This is the darkest of all the psalms. God knew we would need words like this and he gives them to us.
  • “Close to death” – The psalmist’s experience was so intense he believed he might die.
  • “Suffer your terrors” – The psalmist made sense of his experience by attributing it as being God’s punishment.
  • “I am helpless” – The psalmist was so overwhelmed that whatever strength or influence he had felt meaningless.
  • “Surround me like a flood” – The experience was so encompassing that the psalmist felt like he was drowning in it.

Teaching Notes

“This side of heaven, no one can offer a fully satisfactory answer for why God continues to allow evil and suffering (p. 20).” Steven R. Tracy in Mending the Soul

“One of the things that will be so important as you move through this book is trying to separate out your voice, the abuser’s voice, and God’s voice. Often times they will seem as if they all run together. Or yours gets completely squashed, and you can’t tell the abuser’s words from God’s (p. 41)… Until you state what you know, you cannot find out what is a lie and what is the truth. And as long as the lies remain hidden, they will exert a powerful influence over your life (p. 72). .. If the prior knowledge is a lie, then all incoming information will get filtered through that lie, and the lie will stand. This is especially so if the lie was repeated many times and accompanied by high emotional intensity (p. 122).” Diane Langberg in On the Threshold of Hope

“Traumatic events destroy the victim’s fundamental assumptions about the safety of the world, the positive value of the self, and the meaningful order of creation… They violate the victim’s faith in a natural or divine order and cast the victim into a state of existential crisis (p. 51)… Traumatized people feel utterly abandoned, utterly alone, cast out of the human and divine systems of care and protection that sustain life. Thereafter, the sense of alienation, of disconnection, pervades every relationship, from the most intimate familial bonds to the most abstract affiliations of community and religion. When trust is lost, traumatized people feel that they belong more to the dead than to the living (p. 52).” Judith Hermann in Trauma and Recovery

“The traumatic event challenges an ordinary person to become a theologian, philosopher, and a jurist. The survivor is called upon to articulate the values and beliefs that she once held and that the trauma destroyed. She stands mute before the emptiness of evil, feeling the insufficiency of any known system of explanation (p. 178)… It appears, then, that the ‘action of telling a story’ in the safety of a protected relationship can actually produce a change in the abnormal processing of the traumatic memory (p. 183).” Judith Hermann in Trauma and Recovery

“The greater the wrong suffered, the more it gets ingrained into the identity of the person who endured it. Such a person sometimes comes to view himself – and others also come to view him – primarily as a sufferer of that particular role… It is as though the wrong suffered is the most defining event of his life – an event that prompts creative accomplishments, friendships, joyful events, whether old or new, and all else. When wrongdoing defines us, we take on ‘distorted identities, frozen in time enclosed to growth’ (p. 79).” Miroslav Volf in The End of Memory

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