'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.'"
Jeremiah 29:11 nlt
It's been said that one of the dangers of trying to save a drowning person's life is that they are more likely to kill you in the process than you are to save them. I've even heard that the person being saved needed to be knocked unconscious before they would stop fighting the one saving them.
Every single night, for the past week, my nine year old son has exhibited this level of anxiety between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 4:30 a.m.
He has gone to bed at a completely normal time with a completely normal bedtime routine. He has not been ill or away from home at all. He wakes up and comes running to our bedroom waking us up and insisting on explaining, in detail, his extensive nightmares. Or he decides he might be sick and wants to let us know that he might be sick with something that has zero symptoms. Or he has suddenly come down with a horrible fit of consciousness about something he lied about within the past 24 hours. The list goes on and on, but there is nothing on this list that is a life-or-death emergency. Regardless, he would not listen to a drop of reason. We tried everything under the sun and nothing worked for him. We talked with him, listened to him, hugged him, reassured him, etc. and sent him back to bed, but he came back less than two minutes later. Again and again he came back, each time more frantic than the last and even less open to logic. Each night we got less and less sleep than the one before.
At first I thought it was an indicator that his meds were needing adjustment. After that factor was slightly modified, his Dad and I started to consider that maybe this was in response to a change in his life. What has changed in his life beginning approximately one week ago?
The only two things that have changed in that timeframe were these: 1) school ended for the year and 2) his glasses broke and we have not received the replacement pair yet.
We began to wonder why those things, if they were the problem, would cause him to respond with such an intense amount of fear that it would plague him for a week? Then, God whispered the answer to me at the perfect point today.
My son's fear is the same fear we all experience every time our stability is shaken and our perception is impaired. It's called loss of control. Not only did my son's schedule change drastically from the solid, predictable school schedule but his most predictable sense - sight - was taken from him at relatively the same time. No wonder the kid is freaking out! He has no idea what is coming next and he can't see what's currently happening well enough to grab ahold of any visual stability. All he is left with is to guess at what has already happened and hope he doesn't need to know how to do it again.
That IS terrifying. I know that fear because it is the same thing I grapple with when I try to compete with and control God's will for my life. I find myself [metaphorically] waking up at 2:00 a.m. sick, over-tired, afraid and wanting some kind of explanation that makes sense to me.
But God is so good. He knew exactly his children need and he left us with the perfect fix for our drowning fear: His word. For me, the scripture is Jeremiah 29:11-13:
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.'"My son chose something completely different. He wrote out three separate Bible verses and, with the some added cartoon illustrations from his Dad, hung them up on his wall right next to his pillow. He has a flashlight in his bed and now, when he is scared, he reads the truth on his wall in his own handwriting speaking to his own fears. Yes, he still woke us up last night, but it wasn't with that unreasonable terror of all the nights prior and it was only two times, not for a full two and a half hours.
God is good. He gives us victories when and where it really matters. I will trust the Lord and his promise in Jeremiah that, even on those nights when it feels like the struggle will never end...
Even then, he plans to prosper, not harm, me. To give us hope and a future.
PRAY: Lord, I call upon you for your wisdom and your plans. I will listen to your will and seek your ways, not my own, even when it's difficult and painful. You are right beside me, in good times and bad; thank you for being the reason I can have faith in the midst of drowning. Amen.
- Emily Krill