As I have shared on here before, I’ve suffered from nightmares a very long time. Real, vivid, terrifying dreams that often rob me of my sleep.
I’ve searched scripture and books for answers as to how to get rid of them. It’s not a topic that is often discussed. In fact, it’s a strange subject that many writer’s shy away from, or rather it is rare enough that it doesn’t come up.
But I’m reading a book right now that is messing with me in a good way. I don’t think I’ve read anything this influential since reading the writings of C.S. Lewis.
The title is Sensing Jesus, by Zack Eswine. It’s a book written by a pastor for other pastor’s. However I read a review that said everyone should read it, so I picked it up. Eswine writes honestly and from his soul. I don’t know if it resonates with me in particular because I was a minister’s wife for so long, or just because God is using it to open my eyes and provide balm for my own soul. Whatever the case may be, it’s shaking my thinking up–not a bad thing.
Eswine addresses the four “portions” of a day: Morning, Afternoon, Evening, and Night. It’s the night writings that have made a real impression on my mind.
This post will mostly be made of quotes about dreams and nightmares. I share them with you, in case you, too, suffer as I do. And it is suffering, because it penetrates some of the darkest places in my being.
Some of us dream in the night of our sleeping. Dreams can trouble or bless us….Dreams come from one of three places, just as our thoughts do when we are awake. They originate with us, they are set upon us by our enemy the Devil, or they are whispered to us by God. Either way, dreams are providential; that is, they too are one of the circumstances in our lives that God governs and through which he holds us for his glory and our true good. (Job 33:15-18)
This is the best explanation I have found for the phenomenon we call dreams and nightmares, and believe me, I’ve looked everywhere. Knowing that God governs even in the darkness of night is of a huge comfort to me. I hope that will be to you, as well.
But what do we do with these dreams and nightmares? And where do nightmares come from, particularly nightmares of past things we have experienced that come and haunt us years later? They linger the next day, sometimes blessing us, but often (in my case) disturbing us throughout the next day. Eswine addresses that as well:
Whatever foul or marvelous thoughts or feelings that linger with us, we take them as they are to God, just as we do when we are awake. Generally dreams of strange images of ordinary things in our lives arise from us. Dark, murderous, treacherous, adulterous, slanderous, brutal terrors arise from our enemy who either solely suggests them to us or seizes our own experiences and makes an exaggerated haunting or scandal out of them.
Even though helpful, these words did not give me much comfort. I continued reading on, until my soul did find words that pierced me through:
Whatever our dream, we take its contents and resulting thoughts and emotions to God. With Him we can rest their poetic business and our frame of heart in Jesus….The Lord who keeps you does not slumber but attends you. (Psalm 121:4)
Whew, my soul. Here is the answer that I miss so often. Yes, I take my dreams and nightmares to God, but I do not entrust Him with them. The idea that I can rest them and my heart in Jesus is almost too much grace to bear. And to be reminded that my Lord does not sleep or slumber, but watches over me as I sleep is also almost too much grace and gift to bear. Yet it is scriptural. It is biblical. It is truth.
I despise my nightmares. I am so weary of them. So very weary. But I find comfort in these words that God impressed upon Zack Eswine to write, along with many other subjects that he addresses in his book. I want to rest my nightmares and my heart in my Jesus.
I hope that you’ll find comfort in them as well.