Our older son Matthew used to have an intense fear of thunder and storms since he was a little boy. We worked hard with him over the years to “disarm this landmine” as it was a frequent topic for our interactions with Jesus. Thankfully, his fear has diminished and while he still does not like to be alone in his room during storms in the night, he no longer runs into our room screaming and crying.
Our younger son, Andrew, did not have a fear of thunder. However, after watching his brother’s freak-out reactions over the years, he has developed his own fear-bond and terror reaction to thunderstorms. While we have made some progress growing peace in this area, he still runs into our room screaming and shaking like a leaf whenever thunder wakes him up. As you can imagine, this response is quite a jolt to the nervous system when my husband and I are sleeping soundly.
Last night we awoke to Andrew loudly crying in a our room. He was terrified of a thunderstorm. I was in a deep sleep and had difficulty waking up to help him calm down. Thankfully, Chris was awake and able to interact with him. Chris helped Andrew settle on the floor with his blankets and pillows then held, comforted and calmed him. Andrew was tense and shaking. My husband then invited Andrew to ask Jesus what He wanted Andrew to know about the thunder and God’s presence in that moment. My husband noticed Andrew’s face was no longer contorted in fear and his little body began to relax. A slight smile broke across his lips. Andrew answered that Jesus said, “You do not have to be afraid of the storm.”
Something simple yet profound happened here. At first this sounded like what Andrew has likely heard from others hundreds of times. Yet, it was obvious to my husband that Andrew was much calmer. Our son went from shaking like a leaf to some restful calm and quiet. One of the main signs we look for to determine whether something we “hear” is actually from Jesus is whether it passes the “peace test.” We ask, 1. Do the results of our interaction with Jesus leave us feeling peaceful? 2. Does this sound like something Jesus would say or do?
In this case, Andrew’s interaction passed the peace test. While I am sure Andrew will still wake up in fear with the next round of midnight thunderstorms, we expect that ongoing interactions with Jesus will disarm the fear-bomb. As we can see with Matthew, while he doesn’t like thunder, the sounds no longer send him into a terrified state because he has a rich history interacting with Immanuel that has calmed his fears.
It is wonderful when we can be aware of Jesus’ interactive presence in the midst of the scary things in life. For children, this can be thunderstorms, the dark, or even “monsters” under their beds. For adults, our fears can be the lack of finances, that our spouse no longer wants to be with us, or that people wouldn’t like us if they saw the “real us.” No matter what you fear, Immanuel wants to meet with you, and give you His gift of peace – regardless of the circumstances.
One of the best gifts we can give our children is leading them to an interactive relationship with the Living God. By living an Immanuel Lifestyle, where we search for Immanuel daily, in the good as well as the bad, we demonstrate how Jesus is a real, caring, loving and present resource in our lives. By leading our children to interact with Jesus, we are giving them a wonderful tool to walk out their relationship with Him in the good and bad times, even when we are not around to help them.