Briefing: Have you ever dealt with the despair of PTSD? Even short periods of PTSD can be horribly depressing and debilitating.
Dispatch (Assignment): Read Psalm 6.
On the Street: David was a warrior all his life. When he was a young boy tending his father’s sheep, he actually fought and killed a lion and a bear. David was the young boy who faced the 9 foot, veteran battle champion, dressed head to toe in armor. Goliath was the equivalent of a modern day Abrams tank and David killed him with a rock. David would go on to be the most celebrated soldier in King Saul’s army. Women would sing songs about David killing men by the thousands. David was anointed King and would lead Israel to complete victory over all of his enemies.
There is no doubt David was a warrior but being a warrior comes at a price. Most warriors deal with post-traumatic stress and King David was no exception. When David found himself in the pit of despair he turned to God, who rescued him.
When I was a young officer working South East Dallas, there was a tall, gung-ho, young officer named John Paul Jones. I looked up to John, he was exactly the kind of officer I wanted to be. John was only a couple of years older than me but he was always getting into car chases, drug arrest and big calls. On September 3rd, 1992 there was a foot chase of a suspect. After John and other officers ran down the suspect and arrested him John died of a heart attack. This had an impact on me that I did not see coming. I cried, had some sleeplessness and when I did sleep I had nightmares. I did not understand why. John was the fifth Dallas officer to die since I had hired on with Dallas PD. Officer Sunny Ma Lov (11-4-90), Detective Larry Bromley (12-11-91), Officer Harrold Hammons (1-22-92), Senior Corporal Bill Daughtery (8-13-92) and now Officer John Paul Jones had all died in the line of duty. I still have four of the five pieces of black electrical tape I used to cover my badge for these officers. It reminds me of their sacrifice.
Later, I would move to DFW Airport DPS and lose a very close friend, Motor Officer Rick Barreda. Rick was killed on 2-14-97, Valentine’s Day.
If you stay in this job long enough, you will have examples of times you suffered through PTSD no matter how big or small. I consider my experiences small in comparison to our soldiers who serve in war zones for months at a time. God is intimately familiar with PTSD and its effects. He created us so it is only logical that He knows the solution. I believe it is found in His Word. I can’t point to a specific chapter or verse because it will reveal itself in different books for different people. The key is to read the Bible and find where God speaks to you.
I believe David was dealing with his own PTSD in this chapter. In verse 2 David asks, “Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony.” I love how God will not just give us the bullet points on how to deal with PTSD but He gives us examples of people who had the same experience. These examples are good examples that point us back to God. David turns to God and pleads for His help. We know by reading the rest of the story of David that God does pull David out of the muck and mire. Verse 9 says, “The LORD has heard my cry for mercy, the LORD accepts my prayer.” This is the greatest news and encouragement we can have.
God loves us so much and understands what we are going through. He desires us to survive and experience great victory over our stressful depression. When we come to a place of “normal” we must give glory to God and share our experiences with others who are going through similar experiences.
Investigational Resources: 1 Samuel 17 and 1 Samuel 18:7.
Officer Safety Principle: Will you commit to turn to God for help? Read the Bible and pray for God’s healing help.
from Psalms Through the Eyes of a Cop, Volume 1
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
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