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Setbacks & Sustenance

When I first began working through trauma, I believed if I could just stay focused, I would make steady, uphill progress. I knew I needed Jesus to work in my heart and mind to heal from events in my past that left me feeling powerless and lacking control. I knew it would take daily, consistent discipline to help my body heal. I had high hopes that the trajectory of my healing would be linear. I would feel a little more lighthearted each day. A factor I did not take into consideration in those early, inspired days: setbacks.

Soon my high hopes for a seamless healing journey withered under the pressures of life. The death of a family member, the loss of my beloved dog, heartbreak from opening my heart to love again. Hard days mentally and physically left me mired in remembrance of my worst days. I felt a recurring sense of failure over my lack of self-discipline. So many things felt like setbacks.

I also quickly realized that it wasn’t always my natural inclination to run to Jesus when things got hard. Often, I would try to deal with things on my own!

While setbacks can be discouraging when healing from trauma, here are some things they have taught me: 1) Jesus always wants us to run to Him. 2) We must run to Jesus daily. 3) Trying to deal with things on our own is like taking laps in the wilderness.

Jesus used many “I AM” statements, but one that has stood out to me recently is that Jesus called Himself the Bread of Life. “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry…” (John 6:35). Jesus is our perfect sustenance. When we come (or run!) to Him, we receive nourishment and are strengthened and fortified to handle setbacks. Being fed with hope, our confidence is renewed in the truth that God is still at work healing us and writing goodness into our stories.

In addition, when Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He instructed [us] specifically to pray, “Our Father… give us this day, our DAILY bread…” (Matt. 6:11; Luke 11:3). God wants us to rely upon Him daily as a means of building intimacy and trust. His daily bread is the strength I need to face the day and any setbacks that come my way. It can feel vulnerable to simplify our prayers. Yet God faithfully sustains us and often shows up in personal, encouraging ways we would miss by looking too far ahead.

Lastly, when God supplied the Israelites manna (bread) in the wilderness (see Exodus 16), each person was to take exactly what was needed for that day and no more. If anyone took more than was needed, it would rot! This required daily trust that God’s provision would continue. When hit by a setback, my personal preference would be for God to deliver a five-year plan with a pain-free guarantee. But God knows this is not best for me! Like the Israelites, He calls me to daily trust that His provision will continue. I’ve learned that trying to handle things on my own without God doesn’t work. Many laps in the wilderness can be replaced by rest when we trust God with our hearts and our daily needs.

If you are experiencing or have experienced setbacks on your healing journey, keep running to Jesus daily. He provides us with His presence, power, perspective, peace, and perfect sustenance. He does not give us crumbs- but all of Himself! God is our Savior, “who daily bears our burdens” (Psalms 68:19) and the faithful God who promises to complete the work He began in us (Phil. 1:6).

One more thing- what you and I see as a setback may only be a perceived setback. Remember that God works all things for our good (Romans 8:28), and He can turn ANYTHING into a catalyst for greater growth and healing.

Healing forward with you, friends!


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