What does the Bible say about brain trauma/damage/traumatic brain injury (TBI)?Question: "What does the Bible say about brain trauma/damage/traumatic brain injury (TBI)?"
Answer: The Bible does not specifically address traumatic brain injury (TBI), and it doesn’t provide any clear examples of someone with brain damage (although Abimelech’s fatal injury in Judges 9:53 must have involved brain trauma). But Scripture does address the issue of suffering.
From our perspective, it seems puzzling that God would allow any bad to happen in the world. Why would God allow someone to suffer a traumatic brain injury? But, looked at from another perspective, it is a bigger wonder that God’s grace and mercy apply to us in any circumstance, given our sinful state as human beings.
Romans 8:28 assures the believer in Christ that God is actively working in all circumstances to bring about an ultimate good. Everything happens for a reason. We usually don’t know the reason that God allows unpleasant things to happen to us, especially something as life-changing as traumatic brain injury. We fall back on faith; we believe that God has a plan for our lives and that His plan is for good and not evil. The brain injury is for a reason. The doctors are there for a reason. The medicine and therapy are for a reason.
We as Christians are faced with illnesses, accidents, and many other difficult situations. In each one, we are presented a tremendous opportunity to learn of God’s grace and strength. Whenever we are weak, that is the time God will show Himself strong on our behalf (2 Corinthians 12:9–10).
God controls both the thermostat and the timer on our trial. God promises that He will never forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) and will never allow us to face more than we are capable of handling in His strength (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Sometimes a traumatic brain injury affects a person’s behavior and causes him or her to say and do things that are out of character. A quiet, unassuming person may, after experiencing a TBI, start using vile language, showing outbursts of anger, and acting in bizarre ways. We do not believe that God holds us responsible for events beyond our control. He does not hold to account those who truly have no control over their thoughts or actions.
Someone with a traumatic brain injury may not be able to understand the gospel. There is no Scripture that explicitly covers God’s dealings with those who are incapable of faith in Christ. The Bible does, however, have much to say about God’s mercy and grace (Romans 5:20).
God recognizes when we should and should not be held accountable for our actions. If a child cannot tell good from evil, for example (Deuteronomy 1:39), then it is reasonable to assert that adults can be in a similar condition at times. Those suffering from a traumatic brain injury can potentially have a limited capacity to distinguish right from wrong.
For those who are dealing with someone exhibiting a drastic change in behavior due to a brain injury, it is important to show him or her the same love, grace, and mercy that God shows us every day of our lives. Providing needed spiritual, emotional, and physical support pleases the Lord. “Let us not become weary in doing good” (Galatians 6:9).
Recommended Resource: Wounded Warrior, Wounded Home: Hope and Healing for Families Living with PTSD and TBI by Waddell & Orr
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