Have you ever dosed off to a peaceful sleep, only to have been awaken by a dreadful nightmare. Well, I've been there and done that, many a time in the heart of my deepest sleep experiences. And, I'm sure many of you have experienced them, as well. So, what causes nightmares and why do they happen? Is it a means of bringing up our past or is it a warning of the future? Whatever the intention may be, we Christians are certainly not immune to the process.
For you see, nightmares are just that, freighting experiences that seem to play on our sub-consciences minds. Moreover, like you, if I could remember all those anxious moments, I could probably writer a best seller or produce the ultimate movie.
First, a little nightmare savvy.
Interestingly, the mare in nightmare has nothing to do with a female horse. Instead, it comes from Old English maere 'goblin, incubus.' The word was nigt-mare in 1300, and it referred to an evil female spirit afflicting sleepers with a feeling of suffocation. By 1350, it was nytmare and in 1440 it was nyghte mare. Mare actually comes from the Proto-Germanic word "maron."
Nightmare was used to describe 'a bad dream caused by an incubus' in the 16th century, and by 1829 it was used to describe 'a bad dream' in general
Now that the boring facts are concluded, let's move on. I'm sure the secular psychologists can and do muster up many nightmare reasons and results, as time and education marches on. However, as Christians, naming the name of Christ, the only definitive answer comes from God Himself, by way of His Holy Word.
In Psalm 4:8 we read these words, "In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety".
And, one of my favorite Bible promises, which I encourage all believers to commit to memory, is found in The Apostle Paul's writings,
"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).
So, how do we Christians cope with the nightmare effect? One might try counting sheep, but that doesn't work very well in the real world. The best approach, I have found, is to get up, walk to the old trusted refrigerator and get a small glass of milk. As well as a cookie, if you aren't watching your weight. Then return to bed and have a nice talk with your Heavenly Father.
"Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken"(Psalm 55:22).
Of course God is already aware of our problem, God is omnipotent, which means that He is all-powerful; God is omnipresent, which means that God is everywhere at the same time; and God is omniscient, which means that God knows everything.
In the Old Testament book of Isaiah God says of Himself, " ... For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, 'My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure" (Isaiah 46:9-10)'
In addition, The apostle John tells us, “God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.”(John 3:20), and King David confirms the same by saying "that God even knows and understands our thoughts “afar off.” (Psalm 139:2).
Together these scriptures tell us that God knows the end from the beginning, He knows what is in our heart and He knows our thoughts before we think them.
However, it surely doesn't hurt to talk our problems over with our Heavenly Father and get them off our chest, in a manner of speaking. After all, it's our continuing fellowship with God, that confirms His strength in our day-to-day lives. For you see, fellowship with God is not an option for Christians.
The Bible teachers us to walk in the light, and have fellowship with God.(I John 1:7)
Yes, just as we have intimate real relational fellowship one with another, we also have it with God. And that includes our frightful nighttime experiences. Simply wish God good night and fall back into sleep land.
Remember the old childhood "goodnight prayer" Try it for yourself. Simple as if may be, it's worked wonders throughout history.
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep;
If I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.