When I am asked about practical tips to help children who have experienced trauma, one of the most important things I can suggest is this: Shape a child’s identity with the Word of God.
Brokenhearted children often feel self-conscious about their circumstances—not having a mom or dad, or being abused, neglected, in foster care—whatever the situation may be. They feel weird around their friends at school. They feel different. They will easily notice what other kids have that they do not.
Their identities will change. In some way, they will label themselves as …
In Scripture Naomi, whose name means pleasant, suffers the loss of her husband and her two sons. She is left widowed and childless in a foreign land, and soon declares that she wants her name changed to Mara, meaning bitter.
Hi, my name is Bitter.
But this is not how our God operates.
Our God is the "God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did." (Romans 4:17)
God calls things that are not as though they were. This is evident all over Scripture. Early in Israel's history, God renames Abram, who is childless with Sarai, Abraham, Father of Nations. Likewise, Sarai He renames Sarah, Princess of the Multitude. This happened before Isaac is born—even before Sarah has conceived.
Our identities come not from what happens to us, but from what God declares about us.
So we are Blessed, Favored, Loved, His own. (Psalm 5:12, John 3:16, Psalm 100: 3)
We are God’s treasure. (Exodus 19:5)
His work of art. (Ephesians 2:10)
The apple of His eye. (Zechariah 2:8)
His Beloved. (Song of Solomon 6:3)
Identities shape destinies. And this is why we cannot allow children's identities to come from the negative, traumatic, or horrific things that happen to them. Their future rides on knowing God's truth, His precious Word, which is able to transform them.
All of us need to have our identities shaped by knowing what God says about who we are.
Open the Word of God and allow it to help you shape a child's identity. Speak God's truth over brokenhearted children. Speak God's declaration of their true identity, and the hope of their future. Wait for faith and expectancy to rise. Then watch as their identities and their destinies are reborn.