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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

18 September 2019: Jon Piper, Hope Church

Brexit Trauma

I used to work with people who had been through very recent trauma. When I first met my clients they would often have a wide-eyed look and seem deeply disorientated. That’s because trauma takes the framework that a person has used to understand the universe and blows holes in it, proving it to be unreliable.

This experience can be like waking up in a city where a bomb has gone off. It’s like finding yourself in a post-apocalyptic landscape, where it’s hard to tell the right path through the skeletal remains of formerly familiar buildings.

Therapy for traumatised people often involves retelling the story of what happened. Just establishing what is true can be like plotting points on a map to reorientate yourself in life.

There’s a similar event in Lamentations, a short book in the Bible, which poetically recounts the sacking of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BC, as well as the aftermath. The writer takes the reader through the post-apocalyptic streets and the effect is haunting and almost hopeless.

The whole book is told at a limp and the only glimmer of hope is this: ‘Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.’ These lines are like a diamond in a city-sized wasteland – they are the reorientation point in this story and highlight what’s important.

In Brexit-disorientated Britain, it’s easy to get lost in the unfamiliar landscape, where previously reliable ideas are lying in waste. Many have become increasingly angry, frustrated and disorientated. It seems increasingly important that we learn to retell the story of how we got here and, in the process, find out what’s important and how to orientate ourselves.

For Christians, the compassions of our God, which are new every morning, are the ultimate glimmer of light in the rubble.

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