When I was about 5 or 6, I remember having a horrible nightmare. I woke up crying loudly and my mother came running to me from across the house to see what was the matter. She held me close, rocking me back and forth, and assuring me it was just a dream. Then, she stayed with me until I fell asleep. The next time I had a nightmare, I didn’t cry quite so loudly, but my mother still heard me, and still came to my side. She held me close, once again, until I felt safe and reassured. I drifted softly off to sleep, knowing I was cared for and safe. Soon, I began to cry out less and less, because I would remember the soothing words before fear could grip me entirely. I’d repeat them to myself, snuggling up warm in my blankets, and remembering that Mama was here, just down the hall, and it was just a dream. Until one night, I had a dream that caused me to yell out before I was even really awake, and my mother didn’t come to me. I think my door must have been shut that night. Perhaps the sound didn’t travel through the house as well as usual. Whatever the cause, I panicked. Fear gripped me at the thought of being alone. I ran as fast as I could to my parents’ room. She and Daddy let me climb up into their bed. They both held me close and told me I was okay, and it was just a dream. As they shushed to me softly, I was sure they were really here, and I wasnt really alone. I was comforted. But something happened that night of “no answer” that set me back. For a few nightmares afterward, I was not able to muster up the self comforting thoughts immediately. My first reaction, for a while, was to bolt out of bed to their room, out of fear that they couldn’t hear me. My trust was shaken. It didn’t take long, however, to drift back into my comforting thoughts, because my parents continued to be trustworthy. First, I’d call to Mama, instead of running to their room. Then, at last, I was able to repeat her words back to myself, knowing they were really here, realizing I was safe. Fast forward to adulthood…I know a bad dream is just that: a dream. I have years of soothing words, whispered in my mind’s ear, to usher me back to reality. I can see this happening now in my own children, even at their very young ages. When they were babies, they needed me often in the night. Oh, how they needed me! It was exhausting at times, and I remember trading off with hubby sometimes, for my sanity. But, now that they’re a little older, they’ll sometimes go back to sleep before I can even walk across to their room. My preschooler has outgrown his need for a monitor. I know he’ll go right back to sleep if he wakes, and that he’ll run to our room if he needs us. When this happens, we whisper the same soothing words our own parents whispered to us long ago, and we pray these words will stick with him throughout his life. God does the same for us, doesn’t he? The Psalmist says he hears our cry, he answers from his holy hill, he does not leave us or forsake us, he comforts us, he meets all of our needs! He doesn’t mean for us to be alone during the dark, lonely times of life. He surrounds us with friends and loved ones to comfort us. He shows us passages in his Word, which make their place in our hearts, until they come easily to our memory when we need them most. He reassures us time and again. Our trust in him grows. We begin to learn that he’s always here, and that we can have peace, even in frightening circumstances. He was with me last time; I know he is with me still. So, weary mother or father, next time you’re performing the sometimes thankless task of answering nighttime cries, remember: With each comforting embrace, you’re planting deep within your child seeds of trust, which will more readily grow into trust for their heavenly Father. And, you, grown-up “child” of God, next time you find yourself in a dark and lonely place, cry out to our Father. He will answer your cries.