Nightmares! I hate nightmares—hate ’em with a passion! If it were left up to me, I would never, ever suffer through another one again. But I still have one occasionally. A few nights ago while watching TV; I dozed off on the couch. A little after midnight, I was rudely awakened by one of my horrific nightmares. I was ready to scream! I bolted up from the couch, soaking wet with sweat, my heart about to jump out of my chest. It seemed so real. I could hardly shake it from my mind. It was like a lump of hot coal that I couldn’t put down. HORRIBLE!! Even after I had been awake for a while and knew it was only a nightmare, I still struggled to calm down enough to go back to sleep. It was to be the beginning of a long, fidgety night. I imagine each of us has experienced similar phenomena and can readily identify with those dreadful episodes.
Ever since that miserable night, I have been trying to make some sense out of the nightmares in our lives. If ‘all things work together for good’, how can anything good come from nightmares? How can God take something as horrible as a nightmare and turn it into something good?
As I was musing on that question, the first thing that came to mind was, ‘Thank God it was only a nightmare!’, and ‘Thank God we wake up from our nightmares!’ ‘Thank God they don’t last forever!’ But then I thought, ‘Could this be a brief snapshot of hell? What if we really were unable to wake up? What if our worst nightmares lasted for all eternity? What if we were doomed to live in that unbelievable ‘hell’ forever, soaked in sweat, our hearts trying to pound out of our chests, wishing to scream out to God till we had no breath left? MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME? PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE WAKE ME FROM THIS HORRIBLE NIGHTMARE! I CAN’T STAND IT ANY LONGER!’ …..And He didn’t, or couldn’t, hear us!
If I was a betting man and the odds were 100 to 1, or even a 1000 to 1 that hell was no more than just a myth, I would never, ever take that chance! I cannot imagine anyone taking such a risk. As a matter of fact, If we really, really believed in Hell, we would crawl on our stomachs over broken glass in order to keep a friend or loved one from such a horrible fate.
Whew! I cannot imagine telling another to, ‘Go to Hell!’