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  • Writer's pictureJo de Blois

What is Post Traumatic Growth?

The Bible says that everything works together for our good. Or at least for the good of those who love God. But often, it sounds like a cliche, doesn’t it? When it becomes an easy answer for people, it can feel like they don’t empathize with us. They just easily say: … well, somehow you will become a better person through this. There are real, true benefits of suffering, namely PTG (Post Traumatic Growth).

Science and PTG

Yes, it is a real term. PTG is a scientific theory that talks about transformation that follows trauma. It was developed by a psychologist in the mid-1990s when this psychologist truly believed that people who go through psychological struggles see positive growth afterward.

How do these people grow? Well, here are some characteristics:

  1. Appreciation of life.

  2. The way people relate to others.

  3. Personal strength and resilience.

  4. New possibilities, for example, starting charities

  5. Spiritual and existential change.

The Bible and PTG

This is secular science. Secular science says that people become stronger and more altruistic when they suffer. Could we have gleaned the same from the Bible? Yes.

  • In Hebrews 5:8 is written that Jesus learned obedience from what he suffered. Of course, Jesus was sinless, but still, the Bible speaks of the training through suffering. Jesus had PTG.

  • Peter became a humbled, effective, moderate disciple after he denied Jesus and went through severe psychological distress and discipline after this. Peter had PTG.

  • Moses was impulsive, had a short temper, and became a murderer in the Old Testament. God sent him for many years into the desert. Later, he became an advocate for the people of Israel, pleading with God for their lives. He had grown as a person and lost his radical anger for the role of advocate.

Go from victim to survivor

Suffering will lead to growth in most people. But there is one key if you are a victim of suffering. Do not stay a victim but become a survivor. Victims do not grow; they are stagnated in their pain, bitterness, and hurt. Survivors grow. How can you train yourself to become a survivor and not a victim?

  1. Train optimism. No matter how deep your suffering is, your brain can learn to approach the worst suffering through optimism. The Bible says that Jesus endured the cross looking at the good that would come out of it. Train optimism because optimism will train resilience.

  2. Be social. Having a social network helps. Jesus was surrounded by people who were bad helpers a lot of the time, yet he asked them to stay close and be with him when he was in distress. Jesus knew the power of community.

  3. Be service-oriented. If you think of the needs of others, your suffering becomes lighter. Not only are your pains put into perspective, but it takes the introspective focus away. Jesus was only perfectly service-oriented.

The Bible is right, and science can only bow to it: everything works out for the good of those who love God and are called for his purpose as long as you deal with suffering the way Jesus did.

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