Night Terrors

NIGHT_TERRORSBack when my first child and I were both much younger, she woke up suddenly in the middle of the night, terrified and screaming.

Alarmed, my wife and I hurried to her room to see what was the matter.

I picked her up and held her, but she remained stiff as a board. I spoke comforting words to her like, “It’s OK. You’re all right. Daddy’s right here,” but to no effect. Turning the lights on, I saw a faraway look in our daughter’s eyes. Her expression was trance-like. She didn’t respond to her name. She didn’t seem to recognize our presence. We wanted to comfort her, but we just couldn’t reach her.

I’ve been equally unresponsive to my own Father when I’ve suffered spiritual night terrors.

There have been times when, in the grip of fear, I have been completely unaware of His presence. In a terror-trance, I’ve been unable to hear Him speak my name. I’ve been unable to receive His reassuring words.

You might be thinking, “Dave, why do you talk so much about fear?”

First, I consider myself an authority on the subject. As they say, “Write what you know.”

Second, and most importantly, Jesus tells us over and over again not to be afraid. He tells us this, not because bad things won’t happen to us, but because He will never leave us or forsake us. His abiding presence is the Big Reality He wants us always to remember.

And that’s precisely what the enemy wants us to forget.

God is teaching me to stay out of the trance by remaining attentive to His presence, and alert to the enemy’s fear tactics.

How about you?

(I would like to end this post on a lighter note. While I was drawing the above picture, my son, Stephen, suggested my word bubble should say, “Where’s the ‘OFF’ switch?”)

10 thoughts on “Night Terrors

  1. I love this post, and the pic, Dave. When fear, real or perceived strikes, it’s hard for me to hear Jesus’ voice too. I seem to go somewhere deep inside where no one, NO one, can reach. Usually, I recede inward because, like you said, I’ve been listening to the enemy’s voice, his lies, and believing them. When I journal (which is what I often do to work through the hard stuff of life), God finally bypasses the spoken word, implants His truths in my brain and they come out via my pen, which helps me see the fearful situation through his eyes. I read a GREAT post on Ann Voskamp’s blog today about this same topic. Maybe I’d better look and see if there’s something I’m fearing, since this is the second time I’ve run across this topic. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I appreciate your good words, Jeanne. When you experience inward retreat, I am glad that God pours powerful truth into your brain and through your pen in order to restore your perspective. When I am puzzled or disappointed by God’s providence, I retreat from God as a Person and into abstract intellectual speculations about what God is doing and why. The enemy can easily slip into that process and lead me in many bad directions. I’m becoming more aware of that trap these days. Thanks again, Jeanne, for your thought provoking reflections.

  2. Great analogy Dave and as always, a great drawing as well ๐Ÿ™‚
    Fear sure can grip us and for me, it can really immobilise. There has been more than one occasion in my life when I have been the classic “deer in headlights”. But God has continued to show me that my fear is a sin, because it’s really me saying to God “I don’t trust you in this situation”. I know it hurts me if one of my kids questions my love for them by not trusting me, or trusting what I say to them. I’ve realised that every time I fear something, I’m taking back control from God, which is crazy because with God, all things are possible, but left to my own devices, well, lets just say, it often doesn’t work out that well ๐Ÿ™‚
    So I am so glad that God is teaching you to stay out of the trance mode and stay in His presence. Praise God for His gentleness, patience and grace. I sure need them.
    God bless you mate!

    • Thanks, mate! You have said it all so well. “[fear is] really me saying to God, ‘I don’t trust you’…” Yes, that is so true. When the wheels came off some time ago, a question began to emerge. “Do you trust Me?” I had to wrestle with that question for long season. But, you are so right. God is patient and gentle and gracious. He’s been so with me. And I’m still learning. So, good to hear from you, Graham. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me.

  3. End of a long day here, but there’s always time to visit your blog, Dave.
    And yes, we are to write what we know … and what we are learning … and what we want to know.
    And you do all the above.

  4. One son sleep walks, and is a hockey player, which is great cuz he’s 6’2. One had night terrors that broke my heart and the other has “eye things” and sleeps with a lamp on.

    My tactic for them was to always try and wake them up. But sometimes it didn’t work. Hubby and I would take turns consoling them through the night.
    But then in the morning, when they’d wake up and life was fine, they had no memory of the night before.
    I wish I was like that, but I need to rely on God to hold my memories from what terrorized me. It’s a work in progress and most days are better than good. And when a dark day comes, I know I just have to stay awake and look Him right in the eyes and listen when He says “Daddy’s here.”

    • Sleep walking, night terrors and “eye things.” It sounds like you and your husband have logged many hours comforting your children in the night watches. Good point on our spiritual memory of terror.

      “And when a dark day comes, I know I just have to stay awake and look Him right in the eyes and listen when He says ‘Daddyโ€™s here.’โ€

      That line left me speechless. Thanks, Jennifer, for sharing from your experience.

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