Rest from Terrors
W4R #143 Reed DePace January 22, 2019
A Weekly Prayer Devotional Seeking God
to Pour Out His Spirit in Revival on Us[*]
Terrors in the Night
A friend told me their troubles the other day. A thousand years won’t bring an end to their to-do list. The expectations of others are crushing their soul. Rather than enjoying an abundant life in Jesus (Jh 10:10), they’re barely keeping the tyranny of obligations at bay. Sleep eludes them; they’re struggling with terrors in the night.
Then another friend unloaded. She was promised a promotion and raise. Her family made some plans for the kids’ education based on that promise. The other day her boss told her the promotion wasn’t going to happen. Now her hopes for her kids are dashed. She’s not been sleeping well; she’s facing terrors in the night.
Another friend cried with me over the choices their child is making. Their child no longer professes love for Jesus, finds it hard to love his parents, and is decidedly determined for destruction. More than distraught, sleep has been fleeting for his parents and siblings; they’re dealing with terrors in the night.
A different friend has all but given up on Jesus. With a drug habit that they’ve fought, and fought, and fought, she can’t seem to shake the demonic desire for another dose of delightful death. No amount of desperate moaning to the Lord even begins to silence the clamoring crush of her flesh’s craving. She is finding it hard to believe the Spirit prays for her with groaning too deep for words; she’s too busy fighting off terrors in the night.
The shame of porn-lust is almost too much to bear for a young friend. Nothing seems to diminish desire. Their miserable morass isn’t enough to quench their lust’s fiery itch. The dream of pure passion shared with a spouse, alone, is taking on mocking tones. Sleep is far away; they’re too busy hiding from the terrors of the night.
These scenarios, and more like them, are more common than we admit. We all have been visited by nightmares, the wild horses of terror in the night, that leave us futility fleeing the clinging agony that tells us all is lost:
My heart pounds in my chest. The terror of death assaults me. Fear and trembling overwhelm me, and I can't stop shaking. … For my life is full of troubles, and death draws near. (Ps 55:4-5; 88:3 NLT)
Such moments of terror are common in the strongest life of faith, like Job’s:
Let the day of my birth be erased, and the night I was conceived. Let that day be turned to darkness. Let it be lost even to God on high, and let no light shine on it. Let the darkness and utter gloom claim that day for its own. Let a black cloud overshadow it, and let the darkness terrify it. Let that night be blotted off the calendar, never again to be counted among the days of the year, never again to appear among the months. (Job 3:3-6)
How about you? When’s the last time you were chased down by terrors of the night? Where is freedom found?
The Domain of Darkness
We know that we deserve to be visited by the terrors of the night, for our rebellion gave birth to them:
Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. (Jam 1:14-15)
We have no hope in ourselves of banishing the dominion of this darkness. Only Jesus can do that:
[God] has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness, transferring us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, (Col 1:13)
Yet even after professing faith in Christ, we can sometimes grope through life as if still in the blinding darkness:
We grope like the blind along a wall, feeling our way like people without eyes. Even at brightest noontime, we stumble as though it were dark. Among the living, we are like the dead. (Isa 59:10)
Even after professing faith, we will find times where our eyes are darkened to the light of Christ:
Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. … Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness. (Lk 11:34-35)
And still terrors find us, even in our darkness. Where can we find the refuge of rest?
The Darkest Night
The answer is always Jesus (praise God!). Only Jesus did not deserve the terrors of darkness (1Pt 2:22). Yet Jesus experienced the terror of his father’s silence to his pleas to escape the darkness:
"Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine." … He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. (Lk 22:42, 44)
Jesus’ suffered under the terrors of the darkest night, as he was utterly abandoned for no fault of his own:
At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o'clock. At about three o'clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, … "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" (Mt 27:45-46)
Rest from Terrors
Jesus suffered all the doom threatened us by the terrors that plague us in the night.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. (Isa 53:4 ESV)
And because he did, Jesus offers us real and true rest from the terrors of life:
Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Mt 11:28 NLT)
Because God is pleased with Jesus’ sacrifice for us:
Let [our] souls be at rest again, for the LORD has been good to [us]. He has saved [us] from death, [our] eyes from tears, [our] feet from stumbling. (Ps 116:7-8)
Is this not the faith the Spirit gives us (Heb 11:1)? Is this not why God takes away the terrors of the night?
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. (Ps 127:2 ESV)
Let us take our terrors to the One whose suffering destroyed them. He cares for us more than we will ever need (1Pt 5:7). Then let us run to our friends still futilely fleeing the terrors born of their rebellion. Let us give them the words of Christ, the only one who gives true rest from terrors.
Dear Lord, we’re harassed by all sorts of fears, terrors threatening our lives. We know these things are born of our rebellion. We also know your death was their death. Forgive us for not trusting you to rid us of these terrors; give us rest. Then send us to our family/friends/neighbors/strangers with the good news of your rest.
Restore to us the years the locusts have eaten. Pour out Your Spirit in revival on us. To Your glory, together with Your Father and Your Spirit, we ask, Amen.
[*] This weekly prayer devotional focuses our attention on some aspect of our need for the Holy Spirit to bring revival to our church. Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you (Ps 85:6)? For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams (Isa 44:3-4). Pick a 15 to 30-minute time-block in your schedule over the next week and use this devotional to focus your prayers. As you can, consider fasting from a meal and using that time to pray for revival in our church.
** All scenarios here are fictionalized descriptions of actual events and circumstances.