Have you ever wondered why people—believers and non-believers alike—have nightmares?
It seems like whenever someone has a dream in the Bible, it is either prophetic or contains a cryptic message for the dreamer that only another person, or the passing of time, can rightly interpret. All dreams mentioned in the Bible are from God, which begs the question: who are nightmares from, and what is their purpose?
God could not have designed people to receive dark, troubling dreams. Are bad dreams simply the after-effects of sin in a fallen world, or is the meaning behind their existence deeper? Perhaps the devil implants these dreams in our minds, or at least his demon minions. What about Christians though? Aren't they supposed to be protected from demons? Or are we all just watching too many bad movies?
Last night I had the most troubling dream—one I would never want or be allowed to see if it were a movie. And yet, there it was, playing in my head in the wee morning hours. There is no escape from a dream like this, either, and often the dreamer wakes only to feel confused, embarrassed, and disturbed. Where is God during these freakish night disturbances? Does He care?
A friend of mine and her sister have nightmares almost every night--this runs in her family—ones so bad that they have trouble sleeping, and wake up screaming or crying. These dreams are dark, and prayer does not prevent their nightly occurrences. Once, after my friend woke up from a particularly bad dream in the middle of the night, she was angry and confused with God for allowing her to suffer. After praying and bedding with her sister for the remainder of the night, she turned off her bed light to go back to sleep...only to be prompted to look up a random verse that popped into her head. She tried to push the verse away because she was tired, but she could not clear her mind of the mysterious address: 1 Kings 3:15. She did not know which verse that was, and did not remember ever hearing the reference before. After turning on the light by her bed, she flipped to 1 Kings3:15 in her Bible to read:
Solomon then woke up and realized it was a dream.
To my friend, this was like a father coming in to comfort his scared little girl by saying, “It was just a bad dream.” My friend still does not know why she has nightmares, but she does know that when she does, God is with her, and wants to help her through her trials, whatever they may be.
Maybe nightmares, like all other trials, are permitted by God to haunt us because He wants us to come to HIM for help and guidance. I don’t think He enjoys watching people suffer, but sometimes the only way people can find truth is through suffering. If it takes a series of bad dreams for someone to realize that they need God’s help, then their suffering is ultimately—and mysteriously—worth it. I don’t know all the answers—heck, I don’t know half, or even a 16th of the answers!—but I DO know that what it all boils down to is the trust that we have in God. Solomon councils in Proverbs 3:5:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.
Still, I cannot help but wonder if many bad dreams can be prevented. I wonder what would happen if I stopped watching TV and reading “fun novels” for a week, and started praying and reading God’s Word instead, right before I turned in each night to sleep? Would the nightmares cease? This week, I am going to find out—and I think the conclusion will be interesting.
Every day from Thursday the 12th to Thursday the 19th I will post the results of my “experiment” on my blog: what passage I read from the Bible before I fall asleep, and the types of dreams I have each night (if I can remember them). This is probably something worth doing regardless of the conclusion that is drawn; after all, spending more time with God is never a waste of time!
If you like, you can join me by fasting from entertainment and praying instead from Wednesday the 12th to the 18th, and post your experiences beneath my posts as comments. Who knows; maybe this week will be so successful for us that we might just keep fasting and praying forever! Ha-ha, I guess we’ll see.
Dreamers, Let the entertainment fast and nightly praying begin!