TD Jakes - Trauma, Triggers, and Triumph
I want to talk to you about trauma, triggers, and triumph. "Trauma, Triggers, and Triumph". The word "trauma" is often used in hospitals to describe the severity of an injury. When a psychologist uses the word "trauma," it is to describe an event, or an incident, and the degree to which it has damaged the soul. Some of us are so busy trying to manage the expression of the trauma that we've never resolved the trauma, and then a trigger comes along. Triggers can be subtle and difficult to anticipate. The moment it triggers, zoom, it takes you right back. It could have been 20 years ago, but it takes you back. "They that live godly shall suffer trauma, persecution". You're gonna go through certain things, certain things are gonna happen and our faith is proven in how we recover. You can't have triumph without conflict. You can't be a winner if you're not in a fight. Sometimes triumph is just being here. Triumph just says, "I'm still here". Triumph says, "I made it".
The amazing power of this text is that God brought them right back out. They said, "When the Lord turned again our captivity, we were like them that dream". I preached about that last week. "Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our heart with singing, they that sow in tears shall reap in joy". The celebration was they saw the end, not just a sowing but the reaping. They saw the conclusion of the whole matter. They got to go back to the land, to their place, to the birth. It is still, to this day, the most important thing to Jewish people, is the sustenance of the nation of Israel. They got to go back to Israel. They got to go back to Jerusalem, the city of peace, and there they celebrated God.
The only thing about this text that mesmerizes me, the amazing power of the text is that you have two different groups that converge on the same situation, having two different reactions to the same experience. They are two different groups only divided by age. They're all Hebrews, but it is interesting to note that they are having a completely different experience. The young men who had been born in Babylon and had nothing to remember shouted when they got back to Jerusalem. When they saw the rebuilding of the second temple, it looked like victory and triumph, but the old men wept. The old men wept. They cried.
How can two people have the same experience and have a totally different reaction to it? How can they have a completely different experience? Because they have been in the presence of the same event, but they react differently based on their perspective. The young men had been in Babylon all their lives. That was all they knew, was the way of life of being a captive in Babylon. They had adapted to their environment. They had gotten used to it, but the old men had sworn that, "If I forget Jerusalem, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth".
So the old man endured Babylon by holding on to the memory, to the memory of being in Jerusalem. Now, you must understand, there's been a lot of stuff going on. King Hezekiah has lost control, nine of the tribes of Israel have been destroyed, not to be seen again. Then you see Judah, the remaining tribes, coming together, amassing and coming back king-less but not faithless, kingless but not faithless, templeless but not faithless, broke but not faithless. They lost their income, but they had not lost their faith. They had lost everything that pertained unto them. We're talking about about 722 BC. They've lost about every thing they had, but they came back rejoicing. They are the southern kingdom of Judah, and they are praising God. Now they are raising money to reconstruct Solomon's Temple.
You remember Solomon's Temple. Solomon's Temple was that amazing temple that was so glorious and so flamboyant and so opulent and so palatial that when you walked into Solomon's Temple, there was no more breath left of you. It was amazing. When the Queen of Sheba saw it, she was speechless. She was spellbound by Solomon's Temple. Solomon's Temple had a laver in it that was 15-feet wide and so shiny and so covered with gold and brass that when you looked in it you could see yourself. Solomon's Temple had a court where the women gathered. It had columns of ivory and silver and gold, and all of that was destroyed in the battle.
I wanna talk to some people who've lost some stuff. You don't understand what it feels like to lose until you've lost some stuff, especially something you thought was wonderful and you thought was amazing, and you lost it. They lost it all. The temple was completely ruined and destroyed, and they came back to ruins. At the time of our text, they've trying to rebuild, and the Lord spoke to me to preach this to people who are trying to rebuild. They are trying to rebuild on the ashes of what you used to be. They're trying to rebuild what is called Zerubbabel's Temple. It is the second temple, and they're trying to build it up and they run out of money. They laid the foundation, and they ran out of money. They've run out of influence. They've run out of power.
Ezra and Hagai were sent as prophets to encourage them so that they could get finished, and when they got it all built up, oh, they started shouting and dancing. They started rejoicing. Marcus, give me some old Hebrew music, some good old Hebrew music. They started dancing and celebrating. We made it, we made it back, we made it back. We've come into our land and we've made it and we've overcome and we are here, this is it. We have arrived, we've got it, we made it, we've got it, we made it. Look at the temple. It's coming up. It's beautiful, it's wonderful, it's great. It's wonderful, but the old men said, "No! It's not what I expected. It is not what I remembered. That little shanty thing over there you call a temple is a mere shadow of what we had before".
And while the young men dance and shouted with glee, the old men wept. They wept. When it looks like you're in a process and instead of making progress, the process leads to digress, it's a tough thing to manage. The gradual exile release of the captive people of Israel, and then finally coming together, southern kingdom's out of captivity, the restoration of the temple was a big disappointment because they had had better. They had had better. And sometimes, whether you shout or whether you cry depends on what you remember. Whether you shout or whether you cry depends on what you remember.
I remember when my wife and I were dating and we went on our first date and she made me some banana pudding, and I said to her, "What is this"? And she said, Banana pudding, and I said, you know, to me, and to her it was banana pudding, it was made out of a box, you know? And it was vanilla wafers in there. It was good, it was good. It's what everybody does with the pudding in the box, but to me, I remembered it from scratch. So whether you like something or not or despise it depends on what you remember. What you, see, the old men's memory was triggered. It was triggered. When they looked at that, when they heard the songs was right, the song was right, play the music again, the song was right, We made it. We made it. We made it. they said, "That's the right sound, but look". The trigger threw them back to the trauma.
Oh, y'all don't hear what I'm saying. The trigger threw them back to the trauma. Stay with me 'cause I'm headed somewhere. The trigger threw them back to the trauma and they were reliving all the agony. Not only were they weeping for the lack of Solomon's Temple, everything they've been through came back up on them again, and that's what triggers do: it brings everything on you that you've ever been through, and the old men were crying as loud as a young man were dancing. And the Bible says, "You could not distinguish one from the other".
What caused the old men to weep?
Number one, the fear of losing what you remembered will make you weep. The fear of losing what you remembered will make you weep.
Number two, the grief that comes when you can't control your outcomes. There is a grief that comes anytime you cannot control your outcomes.
And number three, the cumulative effect of past trauma and current change. All of that brought them to weeping.
Number four, the inability to find joy in uncertainty. Especially at that age, there's nothing joyful about not being sure. That's uncomfortable, and especially as you get older, you need to know where you're gonna stay, you need to know where you're gonna be, you need to know how things are gonna turn out, and they couldn't have joy in uncertainty.
Number five, the assumption that what you were used to is the sum total of God's will. In other words, they wept because they assumed that what they had was the sum total of God's will, and how can I be happy with less than God's will?
Number six, the grief over the realization that my life has changed without my permission. Good God of mercy, is there anybody in here who's life has changed without your permission? Nobody asked me did I want this little shabby Tabernacle, nobody asked me about it. My life has changed without my permission.
The reason I am laboring with this text this morning, because it occurs to me that what is going on in this text is going on in our country. How can we have the same experience and two total different reactions? You got half of the country, give me my music, half of the country is dancing. And you got the other half of the country going, "O God". Ezra 3 is America. America is split in half. We are seeing the same thing but we are having two total different reactions to the same experience. And it almost makes you wonder, "Am I missing something"? Because how could this group be so glad and this group be so mad? How could this group be so happy and this group be so sad? How could this group have so much joy and this group has so much pain?
And they were all the same people but their reaction triggered two completely different responses. The old men wept, because they had lost control of the outcome of their lives. They wept because they weren't in power. They wept because it seemed like they were declining and digressing from what they had envisioned the will of God to be. But the young men danced because the young men had been born in captivity and they couldn't remember Solomon's Temple anyway, and to be free was enough to make the young men shout. They saw the second temple as progress. Number two, they shouted because they had no other point of reference. Number three, they shouted because they were willing to experience God in a new way.
Oh, y'all don't hear what I'm saying. Number four, they shouted because at least this was better than where they came from. And so they both converged in this text but the trigger triggers a completely different response. I wanna preach this text today because the old men's weeping is a picture not only of the divide in this country but it is also a picture of the pain we mask. Of the trauma that they had suffered for 70 years explodes through the trigger of this one religious... these old men are not just crying about a temple. They're crying about all the trauma they have gone through over and over and over again only to come out to this.
I wanna talk to you. God sent me to talk to you. You call yourself being strong and being tough, but we have ingested a lot of trauma. We have ingested, our way of life has completely been disrupted. Our family gatherings have become perilous. To hug your grandchildren is to put your life at risk. This is not normal. Your sister comes over and you can't hug your own sister. It's traumatic. It's traumatic because we have lost hundreds of thousands of people dead, some of them we knew, others we knew of them, and how can you expect me to act like nothing happened when I'm running around looking like a bank robber every day with a mask up to my eyes?
My mother lived and died and never saw this mess. My grandmother lived and died and never saw this mess, and yet we are the generation that are found ourselves captive, captive by a virus, captive by the economy, captive by racism, captive by killings and shootings of our sons and our daughters, captive by plagues and distress, and because of the times we are in, the triggers are going off. Our relationships are collapsing. Marriages are falling apart. Ministries are folding because of the triggers of the times that we're living in while some are going into business, others are going out of business, trying to reinvent themselves, and you're trying to act like it didn't hurt. Of course it hurt.
Can we be real this morning? Of course it hurt anytime you can't have a normal Thanksgiving dinner. Of course it hurt. Anytime you're scared of Christmas. Of course it hurt. Anytime you gotta get up your nerve to go into the grocery store. Of course it hurt, and that trigger went off and those old men started screaming because of the trauma, over and over again, that they had suffered and suffered and suffered and said nothing at all. And God told me to tell his people, open your mouth, to open your mouth, to not sit there with your lips glued together and let your soul implode in unexpressed agony. That there's something, there's a release that God wants to do in this place this morning.
I mean, a belly release, I don't mean just a nice Sunday morning service. God wants to ventilate the trauma that has attacked your soul. You've lost mothers and sisters and aunts and you're trying to smile and act like it didn't matter but God said, "Tell my people to open their mouth," and I know it sounds silly and I know it looks crazy, and I know it's unorthodox but you are at home anyway. Open your mouth and just shout out a good cry out to God... You can't go through this kind of stuff with your lips closed. You can't go through this and put on makeup and act like it didn't matter. You can't just keep getting your hair done and getting your nails done and act like you're okay. I said open your mouth and shout out a noise to God...
The reason the devil doesn't want you to say anything is that if you don't say anything, then God can't answer anything. God told Moses, "I've heard the cry of my people". There's something about crying out to God that gets God's attention. David said, "This poor man cried and the Lord heard him". The enemy wants to beat you and tell you to shut up, but the devil is a lie. There's power in my cry. I love the Lord because he heard my... I need 1.000 people that been to hell and back to open your mouth and just cry out to God out of your belly right now, right now, right now.
Cry out till you break out. Cry out till your break out. Cry out till you get loose. Cry out till you get free. Cry out till hell gets nervous. Cry out till demons tremble. Open your mouth and cry out to God. If you holler, he's gonna break something. If you holler, he's gonna deliver something. If you holler, you're gonna get a breakthrough. You've been quiet too long. You ain't go beat me and keep my mouth shut. I will open my mouth to God. Yes, yes, yes, yes, I will not be still. I will not shut up. I will not be silent. If you hold your peace, the rocks will cry out. Open your mouth, open your mouth, open your mouth, open your mouth, open your mouth, open your mouth, open your mouth.