“For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given….He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.” —Isaiah 9:6-7
Benson Ocen is the founder and executive director of I Live Again Uganda, a ministry that helps people process the horror and trauma of war. He lived through the trauma of hearing bullets fly towards him and his family that caused his mental health disorder as well as the unspeakable pain and loss that took place in the context of war. People in his country had to live on handouts from the United Nations, which slowly caused them to lose their culture, their access to education or meaningful employment. Their identity started to be impacted as all of this gradually created dependency on the compassion of others. Benson likened what happened to him as a “snake bite.” When a snake bites us, we do not die from the physical snake bite itself, we die from the poison that is injected in us. In other words, it is not the traumatic event that kills us; it is the poison that it leaves within us that can kill us.
As we look around our world today, where peace seems so elusive, we can see snake bites everywhere. The truth is we have all been affected by a snake bite to varying degrees. In Genesis 3, when sin entered the heart of the human condition, we experienced that poison coming into our lives. It had marred humanity’s ability to reflect the likeness and glory of God to the world around us.
In the midst of war and pain that people still experience—even when the conflict is over—the trauma persists. What Benson and his ministry do is introduce these people to God. As people experience God, the pain and the trauma gets dealt with, discussed and disclosed. How? When God’s infinite amount of grace, love, goodness, peace and glory comes into its rightful place in our life, we are able to work through the trauma and deal with it because He is the Wonderful Counsellor, the Prince of Peace and the Everlasting Father. That is why He is worthy of our praise.
A shortage of praise and worship in our life may indicate that we have lost sight of God’s glory, or worse yet, exchanged it for something lesser than. How’s our worship life? Do we find ourselves bursting into praise at times as we see God all around us? Do we want to extol and magnify His name?
The story of Christmas is the God of glory coming in human form, stepping into the messiness, the trauma and the conflict of humanity to bring peace—to bring the antidote to the snake bite.
Loving Father, I want to praise Your amazing work in my life. Through the trauma and the pain, You are the peace in my life. Thank You, Lord.