Christian Trauma: Understanding Christ’s Inner-Life
What happened to Christ on the inside? Many times when we think of Christ’s sufferings, we are not considering what he carried within himself.
We generally only think of the cross of Jesus concerning what happened to him on the outside, on his physical body. Christ’s physical body was surely wounded, but in addition to this, his mind and heart also suffered at the same time.
What happened to Christ on the inside? We can understand some of what he was experiencing and thinking in his suffering death and learn how this helps us to look at our own pain. We can know from the Scripture a general picture of what was taking place within the person of Christ beyond the physical torment. Yes. There was a physical component to Christ’s suffering and death. In the same way that this visual element is present in his suffering, there was internal trauma in his inner world that caused a tumult in his soul.
Christ’s Suffering Rejection and Being Despised
“Instead of bursting on the scene like a mighty oak or a fruit tree in full bloom, he appears as a sprout or “sucker,” the normally unwanted shoot that springs up from an exposed root of a tree. It is a matter of seconds for the gardener to snip it off. Or he is like a little plant struggling for life in unwatered ground. Far from forcing its way on all around it, its survival is in doubt.” 
Isaiah prophesied that the coming servant who would suffer on behalf of the people of God. The Scripture said that it was for their rebellion that he would be rejected. Christ is described by Isaiah as an unwanted growth that needed to be removed. This was his life experience and describes how he felt. He was treated this way by the people in the world that he made (John 1:10-11). He was not perceived as a mighty warrior or desirable. He felt rejection. He took on grief.
Isaiah 53 and Emotional Trauma
He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
The Crying Out of Jesus on the Cross
One of the deepest realities of the suffering of Jesus is that he suffered in silence (Isaiah 53:7). Very little is said of what Jesus spoke during his final days after being arrested. In some sense, Jesus was keeping it all in. This tension in his soul was finally released in two great screams just before his physical life departed from his body (Matthew 27:46 and 50).
These two great expressions of all that was taking place inside of him were released in a verbal manner. In one place he simply lets out a death cry from the very depths of his being before he gave up his human spirit in Matthew 27:50. Before this, he screamed an articulation of the Scripture as he quoted Psalms in Matthew 27:46. Both articulate words and the unarticulated scream were how Jesus released this great trauma kept in his body. It was not just his own pain, it was all of our pain compounded within him that he was holding. This is what was released from the body of Jesus at the time of his death with the loud scream of a dying man.
Christ and the Christian’s Experience of Suffering
Did Christ Suffer Emotional Trauma Like We Do?
Isaiah 53:3-5 speaks of Christ as a servant. Isaiah lived hundreds of years before Jesus. He spoke by the Spirit of one who was going to come and be a substitution for the people and take their pains upon himself. These pains included grief, sorrow, and rejection. “The passage begins and concludes with an asseveration of Yahveh that the Servant, once humiliated and abused, will be exalted; once counted among criminals, will be in the company of the great and powerful (52:13–14a, 15; 53:11b–12).” 
Even in the most extreme cases of suffering, there is hope.
Even as Isaiah wrote about the future suffering of Jesus, he opens and closes this section of Isaiah 53 with glory. Low suffering often implies high exaltation (Philippians 2:5-11). Consider the man Job from the Old Testament in this regard and how he suffered greatly but was granted double in the end (Job 42:10-12). The story is not complete without redemption, full redemption. Just as we suffer with him, we will also reign with him (2 Timothy 2:12). We have to understand our own trauma, our own pain, our own rejection, through the experience of Christ. This is the only way to find clarity in this world because life is spiritual and Christ has gone before us.
Jesus Took our Emotional Trauma on Himself
“We discover that his sorrow and suffering arose not from a sickly constitution but because he took our sorrows as his own.”  Something spiritual happened on the cross. The only way that it is possible for Christ to take on our suffering and our sorrows would be through a supernatural event, an act of God. God put these sorrows, grief, and rebellion upon the Son. This text in Isaiah 53 describes Christ’s substitution for us.
The idea of Christian trauma and how Christians can manage and heal from traumatic events is found (in part) in the teaching of Christ’s substitution.
“It is generally accepted among Christian theologians that Jesus acted as our representative in his work of atonement. By this is meant that his life, death, resurrection and continuous intercession accrue to our benefit. His work is for us. There is also, however, in the Scriptures a dimension of substitution in the atonement of Christ and specifically with reference to his death. In Rom. 3:23–26 Christ is said to suffer in our place as a substitutionary bearer of the judgment which we deserve. ” 
Managing and Healing from Trauma as a Christian
How Do We Understand Our Trauma and Pain in Light of His?
We do not have to be ashamed and hold down how we feel and ignore what we have experienced. Many Christians are told to simply read their Bibles, read more, pray more, and to renew your thinking at the expense of emotional health. Getting the fundamental understanding of Christ’s atoning work is an essential step in the process of healing from trauma, but it is not always the only step.
When we realize what Christ took upon himself, it does not invalidate what is rumbling inside of us. Sound doctrine tells us that he understands. He also was wounded the way that you are wounded. He understands the inner world of trauma. Jesus does not say that you are not allowed to be hurt or feel that way for even he was hurt, rejected, despised, belittled, and was misunderstood. Part of taking your hurts to the cross of Christ is giving a voice to what is crying out within you.
You can give voice to your pain and be genuine before him. He understands and he extends himself to us. Jesus Christ came in the flesh to a dying world to identify with our pain, and he is able to save. The message of the gospel is not an emotionless one. When he cried out on that cross, he was releasing your pain. You can come before his throne with all of you, knowing that he embodied emotional pain, too. Put language to your experiences. Verbalize what you are feeling, and don’t feel like you can’t express yourself fully and genuinely before God who knows you.
 John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 40–66, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998), 382.
 Joseph Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 40–55: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, vol. 19A, Anchor Yale Bible (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2008), 349.
 J. Alec Motyer, Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 20, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 377.
 T. W. J. Morrow, “Substitution and Representation,” ed. Martin Davie et al., New Dictionary of Theology: Historical and Systematic (London; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press; InterVarsity Press, 2016), 875.