By Lisa Whittle
Five years ago, two noteworthy things happened to me.
The first thing was night terrors. Despite prayer and counseling, I still sometimes experience them. They come as bad dreams, or sometimes I am simply jolted awake by fear. Often, as I pray through them, God speaks to me both during and after them. I am only able to go back to sleep with His assurance that He has me and my family, and we are okay.
I have come to believe night terrors are a part of how Satan attacks me in the night as I work on projects for the kingdom of God. If he can frighten me enough to stop me, he takes one more person out of the game. His goal is always to destroy us, and mental anguish is a primary method.
Around the same time the night terrors started, another event of spiritual significance took place. Similar to the night terrors, this appeared to come out of the blue. This time, though, it was a gift from God. He spoke to me about something very specifically while I was in church.
I heard Him say these words to my heart: “I want you to study the book of Nahum.” The pastor wasn’t preaching on Nahum, nor had I seen it recently referenced somewhere, so I could determine no subconscious prompting. Sometimes people ask me, “How can I know I am hearing from God?” Often my experience has been very simply like this: He says things I would not say to myself. I wouldn’t have told myself to study Nahum. If you’ve ever read the book, you know why.
Nahum is a short, three-chapter Old Testament collection of prophetic poems, sandwiched between Habakkuk and Micah, the seventh book of the twelve Minor Prophets. It has a lot of strong words in it like burning fury, destruction, and crushed—not a book I am typically drawn to in my Bible reading and certainly not during wearying times of life. At the time, when I was experiencing night terrors, this book felt particularly harsh and uncomfortable.
I needed to read Psalms, not Nahum. I needed God to love and comfort me, not remind me I needed to repent. This was a confusing biblical narrative. “Why would you send me here, God?” I often asked out loud while reading the book.
But while we judge things by the surface, God knows the subplot.
Learning from Nahum
The words of Nahum look harsh, but the deeper picture of Nahum is a representation of life: things don’t always look like they really are. God knows what we don’t. And God is taking care of it. Even reading it was a reminder to me that I don’t know what I think I do.
I wanted comfort for my night terrors. It appeared Nahum would be the last place to look. Was God oblivious to my needs? Not at all. Nahum’s name, itself, means comfort and relief, and God knew exactly what He was doing when He had me read it. I could only believe that the timing of my night terrors and reading Nahum was a coincidence if I didn’t believe God knows.
Isn’t this so often our testimony: God knew when we did not? What we assumed He was doing wasn’t what He was actually doing?
On the surface, Nahum is a message from God to the people in the Assyrian Empire capital city of Nineveh. They were in grave trouble for their horrific abuses of the people of Judah, which He had not missed. But the story beneath that story? God’s assurance of rescue (Nahum 1:15). God’s plan is always thorough like that. Nothing is hidden from Him, and there is nothing that will not be made right.
Only seven verses into the first chapter of Nahum, it’s all there. Very plainly, while all the things are burning and blazing and crumbling and quaking, there is this short word that’s everything: “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him” (Nahum 1:7 NKJV).
The Lord is good.
Maybe your pain is coming from a place in your past, and you need to believe God will make right what you cannot.
Maybe it’s coming from your need to believe in something again after you’ve had hope after hope and dream after dream crushed.
Maybe you are gripped by fear or consumed by the pain of loss and you’re holding on so tightly because you believe holding on helps you control the things that feel out of your control.
God’s message to you is that He knows where you are going, even when you can’t see or feel or find Him.
He is asking you to trust Him for the relief you may not be able to see, but it will come, just like it did for the people of Judah.
Adapted from God Knows: When Your Worries and Whys Need More Than Temporary Relief by Lisa Whittle. Click here to learn more about the book.
If we really believed that God knowing was enough—and left it there—our questions, worries, and angst over life’s struggles would find more than temporary relief.
Many of us wake up every day with looming anxieties over our future and a weariness we can’t shake. We have more questions than answers and live with difficult daily realities and secrets we feel we cannot share. The question remains for most believers: How can I fix it, make sense of it, or solve it?
Enter God Knows: a guidebook to lead the modern believer to a place of release, relief, and reliance upon the omniscience of God. Inspired by the seldom-studied book of Nahum, God Knows details the behind-the-scenes picture we are missing, what His great knowing entails, and how his omniscience provides daily perspective to bring the healing and peace we are all desperate to find.
In God Knows, you will:
- experience freedom by learning the difference between privacy and secrecy,
- develop renewed belief in your abandoned dreams and goals, still known by God,
- realign your idea of God’s omniscience being far away to how it daily affects you,
- release your fears for the future as you develop a different outlook on tomorrow through God’s lens, and
- learn how to deal with injustice in light of God’s knowledge of it.
God is doing his job well: the justice, the plan, the working together for our good even when we can’t see or understand. The problem is not God. Learn to release what has been burdening you and watch His plan for your life unfold.
Lisa Whittle is the author of eight books and a sought-after Bible teacher. A pastor’s daughter and longtime ministry leader in issues relevant to the church, Lisa is the founder of Ministry Strong and the popular Jesus over Everything podcast, which debuted in the top twenty-five Christian podcasts. Her love runs deep to see people pursue Jesus for life, grow deep roots of faith, and walk strong in the midst of a world that so often seems to have gone crazy. Lisa has done master’s work in marriage and family counseling, is the cofounder of Called Creatives, and has been featured on numerous media outlets through the years. She and her family live in North Carolina.
God Knows is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
 Steven Tuell, “Nahum, Book of,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).