It was a quiet evening at our house one spring evening when a voice of terror rang out from my 3-year-old son’s room.
“Daaaaaad!” he shouted, begging me to come.
I walked toward his door to investigate, assuming he either wanted covering up or needed a drink of water.
On this night, though, he had something else on his mind.
“I’m scared of the monster,” he said, with an innocent look in his eyes and fear on his face.
For once, I was speechless. No one in our house watches scary movies or shows, and we don’t even read scary books.
The “scariest” story he had ever heard likely was David vs. Goliath.
But he had seen a few cartoonish toddler-friendly “monsters” on TV, and his mind was swirling with creepy thoughts.
Of course, he was and is not alone in being afraid of imaginary objects in the dark—and it’s not just kids who are like that.
We seem to be hard-wired to be uneasy at night. Why? It’s the fear of the unknown and the mysterious. During the day, we easily could open the curtain and see that a tree branch is scraping the window. But at night? We can’t see what’s outside—and we’re certainly not going outside to explore. And so our imagination runs wild, often chasing the most frightening thought we can conjure.
I could have told him that “there are no monsters,” but that’s only half true. The real-world “monsters”—Satan and his demons—wreak more havoc than any on-screen monster ever will.
As it turns out, what I did tell my son—at least, most of what I said—is what I tell myself when I’m afraid. It’s quite simple:
Angels are watching over you. But not the cute kind you see at the local Hallmark store. That’s make-believe. I’m talking about angels as described in Scripture: “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (Psalm 91:11). The writer of Hebrews references angels who are “ministering spirits sent out to serve” God’s children (Hebrews 1:14). My son has read about angels and knows what they are: They were created by God and are servants of God. Angels in the Bible comforted Mary and then the shepherds in the field. I’m sure they’re well suited to comfort my tiny son, too.
God is watching over you. Sure, angels are great, but they have their limits. Unlike God, they don’t know everything. They also—unlike God—can’t be everywhere. If you’re going to get spooked at night and can have only one “person,” you want God, not just an angel. That’s why God told Joshua: “Be strong and courageous … the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). And that’s why God was at the center of the conversation with my son that night. God was with him in his bed, at the very moment God was with Mom and Dad, his brothers and sister, and every other person who calls on the name of the Lord. God is comforting millions of people—all at the same time! That, itself, is comforting.
Mommy and Daddy are in the next room. Obvious, yes, but kids often need the tangible, physical presence of someone from time to time—just as we all do. The Bible says we were meant to encourage and comfort one another. That night, it was my role to do that very thing for my son.
One final thought: Say all of this with enthusiasm. I got in my son’s face that night and excitedly told him that no matter where he looked in his room, God was there—“in that corner, in that closet … right here in your bed!” And you know what? He fell asleep right away—and does so each time I remind him of God and His angels. It’s a heartening thought for a 3-year-old.
And you and me, too.
Michael Foust is an editor and writer who blogs about parenting and fatherhood. He loves his family and also really likes college football, midnight debuts of Star Wars movies and pretty much any 80s group that involved big, wild-looking hair. Interested in re-posting this in your publication or on your blog? Email me: michaelfoust (at) gmail.com. Also, check out my video section.