Did Jesus Experience Trauma? Experts Say ‘Yes’

Did Jesus Experience Trauma? Experts Say ‘Yes’ by ABBY PERRY for Christianity Today

A quick scroll through social media can bring an onslaught of bad news, both globally and in our personal lives. There’s no end to stories about sin ravaging people, families, and whole communities. We suffer broken relationships, dreams deferred, and life-changing illnesses or injuries. Unspeakable losses leave us feeling betrayed or abandoned by those we love.

In our internal and external spaces, we are confronted by disillusioning pain and disappointment. This is the human condition—life in a broken world. And our bodies, as Bessel van der Kolk puts it, keep the score, housing trauma responses within them.

Christians love to say, “But God is still good!” —a statement that’s filled with truth yet rushes past a needed moment of recognition, one that acknowledges the fact that loss, heartbreak, and pain need to be processed for us to experience the warmth and grace of a loving God.

Our communal stress and trauma have been on full display over the last two years as we’ve watched people die separated from loved ones, balanced changes to our work lives, and battled the disorienting effects of extended isolation. As we emerge from the pandemic’s darkest hours, we are grappling with how to rebuild the stabilizing structures of our lives, often with damaged or missing bricks.

While Christmas can be the “most wonderful time of the year,” Advent is a time when we are waiting for the magic to start. How can we find healing from the wounds that refuse to take time off for Christmas break? Where is Jesus in our persistent pain that clamors to be heard above the din of a world chanting its desire to move on from suffering?

The answer comes to us not in an explanation but in a name: Immanuel, or “God with us.” Rather than sending us a distant savior who would rescue us from on high, God sent us a child born in a manger.

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