In Genesis 14:17-24, Abram gathers 318 men to stage a daring all-night rescue mission. Enemies – Boko Haram style? – have abducted Abram’s nephew, Lot, and Lot’s family and servants.
The rescue op succeeds. Abram returns the next morning with Lot and household safely in tow.
Consider the emotional dynamics of these events. For a brief time, Abram does not know if he will see his nephew & his family again.
We find nothing in the story about Abram experiencing that now-in-the-news condition, PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Is this because the events weren’t traumatic? Perhaps. But Christians in North America filter stories like this through flannel graph lessons, which means we tame them. Nigerian Christians who have had their children kidnapped by Boko Haram would read Genesis 14 through different eyes. If I’d been in Lot’s shoes – or Abram’s – I’m sure I’d have felt traumatized.
And note another thread in the story: that mysterious “priest of God Most High”, who is also a king: Melchizedek.
On Abram’s return Melchizedek comes out to meet him, and lays on a meal (“bread and wine”). He refreshes weary, up-all-night Abram with hospitality. And with priestly blessing: “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth” (Gen 14:19).
Psalm 110:4 and Hebrews 5:9-10 see this whole episode (the kidnapping, the rescue, the meal) as a God-thing: a sign to point us to Christ. The ultimate Melchizedek.
John Phillips was my father-in-law. He died in 2015, aged 97. He was a deeply godly man. On December 31, 1945 he returned from the war in Europe, happy to be home but shell-shocked and emotionally scarred. His family could see it: he carried dark thoughts of watching friends die in battle. In 1945 there were no counseling services for returning soldiers. But John was a man of faith. He learned to draw comfort from his Melchizedek. He raised five godly children. He is with his Melchizedek now.
PTSD is back in the news recently with a horrific shooting in California. It left 12 dead. The shooter was a troubled Marine Corps veteran. Unhealed trauma does ugly things.
PTSD is on men’s minds at our church recently after our Conquer Series classes. The Conquer Series is for men looking for victory over pornography. The lessons highlight the peril of unresolved childhood trauma: Drunk Dad beating cowering Mom in front of terrified son. They point to helpful strategies like support groups and – even more important – confidence in the faithfulness of a good Father: God. Left untended, childhood trauma leads some men to medicate their pain through the toxic pseudo-comfort of pornography.
The good news is that we don’t need pseudo-comfort. Neither in porn nor anything else. God has sent the ultimate Melchizedek. If you’re weary or scarred, if in ways small or large you’ve been traumatized, make a decision: Draw near to him.
He has come out to meet you.
© 2018 by Dave Perry