Articles on trauma

Pain Doesn’t Ask Permission

Pain doesn’t ask Permission:

But we can lift each other up through it

Counselor Julie Hull is a mental health professional who serves as an advisor and contributor for LifeSupport. At the beginning of the covid pandemic in the Spring of 2020, Julie wrote this article that will always be helpful for those who are struggling with life or wrestling with God.

Compounded Grief

We don’t always experience life the way we think we should, or the way we expect it should be. Each one of us at one time may have walked through the valley of the shadow of death. Many of the people and families we sit next to in church are hurting and feeling lonely and quite possibly could be struggling with depression and anxiety.

Especially now, I know I have seen an increase in my counseling practice for extra support around the community grief and loss of the Pandemic that we all are feeling to some extent. We have compounded grief ourselves and many of us are serving those who have trauma or loss and that is on their minds on a daily basis. It can be overwhelming.

All of us are in different places in our lives and different seasons, and if you are currently in a season of pain this may be hard to understand or even see right now, but God has shown me that there can be joy and even purpose in our pain. I became a widow when my youngest son was 12, my husband died from a rare form of lung cancer. That has been a few years now and I am finding my way along in my own story and it takes time and it is teaching me how to stand with others in pain.

The Journey Into Pain

I found myself once again in that hard place, last year when my sister died. Our church and our family had been praying for a miracle and at the same time holding the information that the recent diagnosis was stage 4 cancer. Her medical prognosis was not favorable and she had limited treatment options.

I was the one who had to deliver that news to her when she woke up from surgery, it was gut-­‐wrenching for me and yet I was very calm and she was calm after hearing this very hard news. That can only be explained because of the Hope we both have in Jesus Christ.

I love how one author frames pain without sugar coating it but by inviting hope into the pain, “we must encourage one another in the assurance that, however deep the pain surges, Christ loves us and has overcome (John 16:33).    God didn’t cause the pain we experience but he certainly has a plan for us as we journey through it”.

I believe God hates that we have to experience death and heartache but He is with us. I love the verse in Psalm 34:18 that says, the Lord is near to the heartbroken and he saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Looking back at the past five years apart from doing life without the love of my life, Ken, and watching our son Sam grow up, as he remembers his Dad’s life only through videos and pictures as an 11-­‐ year-­‐old. I am overcome just thinking about where we have been. I am at the same time over joyed at how we have never walked alone. We recently were looking at pictures and we came across one taken a few days before Ken left this world, and we are all laughing and crowding each other out of Ken’s hospital bed in our living room and I look back now and wonder how that was even possible to laugh and smile at such a time. And then God reminds me and I see how it was and how it still is… it’s truly the peace of God that surpasses ALL understanding. I am still in awe of Gods power in such darkness.

Hold Onto The Truth

So I encourage each of you if you are helping someone who is going through something hard right now—or if you yourself are suffering to hold on to Jesus, cling tightly to the word and surround yourself with people that will speak life over you.

Friend, you are so loved. You are enough. You are never alone. God’s word reminds us in Zephaniah 3:17, “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love. He will rejoice over you with singing.”

My prayer for the families we serve in our Churches and for all those who God brings into my path is that God would help us all to see the

Julie Hull holds a Master of Clinical Christian Counseling and is a Licensed Pastoral Counselor.  She is the owner of Renewing Hope Counseling Resources in Burnsville, MN where she specializes in helping clients who are experiencing loss, grief and life transitions. Working with people to create sustainable self-care practices while walking through a new, difficult or unwanted change in life. She believes the integration of emotional, physical and spiritual health must be addressed in order to move toward healing. Learn more about Julie and her practice at Renewing Hope.

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A Son Murdered – But God

Trauma is filled with unknowns…but God is always there

Trauma changes people forever.  God finds a way to help us grow through the challenges of life.  He creates opportunities for that growth happens when we walk through the process of healing. When a tragedy happens, only the pain and sadness seem real. Sometimes for years. But our limited perspective of events and life in general is completely opposite of the way God sees them.

This truth came to light during a LifeSupport Podcast in which a pastor shared the story of the death of his son by homicide. It was a complete shock, and the family had a long journey ahead of them, full of unknowns. However, God miraculously created blessings from this tragedy.

Paul Johnson, the host of the LifeSupport Podcast, welcomed his wife, Wendi, onto the show so they could both share their story of their son Taylor, who was the victim of a shooting.

Paul and Wendi Johnson

Paul and Wendi were proud of their son Taylor.

The 21-year-old was just two weeks away from graduating from a school of recording arts. Taylor was talented and gifted and his parents could not wait to see what life had in store for him.

Taylor lived with Paul and Wendi until he into a place with some roommates. They would see him occasionally, sometimes he would just stop by quickly to get his mail that was still being delivered to his parent’s house.

Just one month after Taylor moved out, Paul and Wendi received the worst news they could ever imagine.

Their son had been murdered. He had been shot and that is all they knew for eight months, which seemed like eternity. The process of telling their kids, family and friends was painstaking.

During the podcast, Paul said he and his family had no idea what journey was set before them, or what the ripple effects would be from the tragedy. He described his family as being in a sort of ‘fog’ for months after Taylor’s passing.

After eight grueling months, an arrest was finally made in the case of Taylor’s homicide. Paul had a chance to sit down with his son’s killer. The young man’s name was Jesse, and he was just 23 years old. He told Paul he was sorry for what had happened and the two would end up hugging at the end of the interview.

Paul, Wendi and their three children agreed that they should forgive the man who took Taylor away from them. Although it was not easy, that is what they did. Not only did they forgive him, but they made it public at a press conference regarding the case. The case became a media frenzy and radio stations spread the word that a family was forgiving the murderer of their child.

Finally, the trial for Jesse arrived and that event in itself was a whirlwind of emotions. Paul and Wendi met Jesse’s parents, heard victim-impact letters, and received another apology from Jesse. Wendi saw that Jesse was just a scared 23-year-old kid who needed love and was crying out for something in his life.

Jesse was sentenced to prison, but that would not be the last time they saw him. They would visit Jesse in prison and share the Gospel with him.

Trauma changes people forever

As Paul and Wendi shared their story, they each gave some things they learned about themselves and God during that time in their lives:

  1. Don’t expect the same person to return – When a person experiences a serious trauma in their lives, it can change them forever. Before the trauma occurred, they might have been very outgoing or have particular hobbies they enjoyed. After the trauma, they might not be as outgoing or care for the things as they did in the past. This is not uncommon when it comes to trauma, and we cannot expect them to be the people they were before.
  2. Trauma survivors want the world to slow down – When a major trauma happens, a person’s world comes to a crashing stop. Nothing else seems to matter. However, other people around them continue with their lives as nothing happens. This is important to keep in mind when walking along someone who experienced a serious trauma in their lives.
  3. Trauma has ripple effects – It is always easy to see the immediate effects of a major trauma in someone’s life, but there are also a number of long-lasting effects that aren’t as apparent that can show up later in life. It might be a trigger or a memory, or something that is said by someone. Paul said his children are still suffering to this day from Taylor’s death.
  4. Think before you speak – When someone’s in trauma, it is very important to think before you speak to them because even if your intentions are good, what you say could hurt them even more.
  5. God is faithful – God is always faithful to those who are suffering or in trauma. As in Paul and Wendi’s case, He uses bad things that happen and can turn them around for good.

God is in every situation, no matter how good or bad it is

New opportunities arose for Paul after Jesse was sentenced to prison. He was given the chance to speak to different prisons about the Gospel and Wendi was given the chance to speak to different women’s groups. All of this happened because of the interaction they had with Jesse while he served his sentence.

Pastor Paul also now has a bigger heart for people that are walking through a similar journey.


We created to help you start discussions about mental health, to help remove stigma so people can find hope and healing through God. We pray that LifeSupport helps you grow your church.

If there are other reasons you don’t share your struggles, we’d love to hear them and will treat your communication as confidential. Please email any comments to [email protected]

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Does Trauma Have A Purpose

Does trauma have a purpose, or is it just something that God allows to happen?

 Does trauma have a purpose?  Like anything else the answer to this question rests in our view of God. 

Any kind of trauma can change the trajectory of our lives. At one moment, life may be going just the way we hoped and planned, and in another moment, everything changes, and we are going a completely different direction, a journey into the unknown.

A recent LifeSupport podcast discussed the topic of trauma and how it all fits in God’s plan for our lives. Is trauma something that God just let’s happen? Or is there a bigger picture that He sees as it relates to trauma?

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Garth Warren

Garth had big plans for his life.

He married his wife, Christy, and soon after he had the opportunity to become a graduate assistant football coach at the University of Tennessee. This was a dream-come-true for any football coach. Tennessee was one of the biggest and most successful college football programs at the time.

Garth played football at a small college and even had some coaching experience before the chance arose.

Once he was in Tennessee, Garth was introduced to the other coaches. During lunch, it was typical for all the guys to play some pick-up games of basketball. One day, Garth was playing and the person guarding him took his legs out from underneath him and Garth landed on his head and was knocked unconscious.

At the time of the accident, Garth was not sure how serious it actually was, but it would change his life forever.

Doctors told him that he had a brain injury and Garth and his wife were forced to start re-thinking their future. It became clear that Garth could not continue in the coaching profession and he ultimately left to pursue a different career.

He became an insurance salesman, but his injury still affected his ability to perform. It took years of tests and hospital visits before he started to realize that this injury was going to affect him for the rest of his life. That realization hit home hard and for the first time in his life.

Garth was raised in a Christian home and he grew up in the church. He asked Jesus to come into his life when he was very young.

Now, he was crying out to God all of his questions, frustrations and thoughts.

During the LifeSupport podcast, Garth explained what he learned about intercessory prayer, the necessity of crying out to God and how trauma can strengthen one’s relationship with Christ and others.

What are effective ways to support someone experiencing trauma?

In the Podcast, Garth shared some of his personal experiences in what helped him while grappling with his physical ailment:

  1. The Ministry of Presence is powerful – Garth says that it is common for many believers to come to someone in trauma with a word. Although they might have good intentions, this can do more damage than good. Just being present with someone is always a powerful, yet quiet, way of showing your support and love for someone.
  2. Interceding in prayer – Garth described his experience as ‘brain fog.’ He didn’t even know what to pray for or how to pray in his circumstance. He asked others to intercede for him in prayer. These prayer warriors came through and Garth can now attest that these prayers helped him and still help him today.
  3. Do not expect a survivor to ever be the same – Trauma changes people. These changes can be small to life changing. Garth says his injury changed him, not only physically, but allowed him to see people and the world around him differently. Trauma always seems bad initially, but Garth believes God can turn anything into good in a powerful way.

God has a plan and is always faithful

Garth shared that his trauma eventually broke him in many ways. Though there were times of doubt and questioning, he knows God has always been faithful to him through it all and used the bad for good in his life.

God has given Garth a gift to see brokenness in others.


We created to help you start discussions about mental health, to help remove stigma so people can find hope and healing through God. All LifeSupport Resources are provided free of charge for use in ministry.  To get started, simply complete this User Agreement.  We pray that LifeSupport helps you grow your church.

If there are other reasons you don’t share your struggles, we’d love to hear them and will treat your communication as confidential. Please email any comments to [email protected]

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