Feeling Down? Get a Light!

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Read and reflect on 1 John 1.

I have come into this world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.  –John 12:46 NIV

Ah, Christmas! One songwriter called it the most wonderful time of the year. It’s the time for sleigh bells and jingle bells, mistletoe and holly, cookies and parties, angels and mangers. Yet for all the Christmas cheer, it can also herald the most down time of the year.

For those who suffer from SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, the long dark nights trigger the release of melatonin, a sleep-related hormone that can plunge them into a winter-long bout with depression. Symptoms, which can be mild to debilitating, include episodes of depression, excessive eating and sleeping, weight gain, and a craving for sugary and starchy foods. The months of January and February, for those who live in the Northern Hemisphere, are the worst. The symptoms subside in the spring and summer months.

From the fall equinox in September, when the daylight hours equal the nighttime hours, until the winter solstice on December 21, the days get shorter and the nights get longer. That’s because, as the earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the sun, it also tilts towards or away from the sun. During the fall and winter months, the Northern Hemisphere gradually tilts away from the sun, and the climate turns colder. Plants lose their leaves and go dormant, appearing lifeless until the earth tilts towards the sun again in the spring and summer months. Then what appeared dead during the winter bursts with new life, warmth and color return, and people find renewed energy and enthusiasm.

I used to joke about my winter weight and summer weight, and my tendency to want to hibernate during the long winter months. But I’ve learned to recognize the symptoms and deal with them to avoid having to work off all that extra weight when my energy returns in the spring.

The therapy for SAD is simple: more exposure to light, especially natural light. An hour’s walk in the winter sunlight, one study found, is as effective as two and a half hours under bright artificial light.

In our spiritual lives, we, too, have seasons of darkness and light, times when we lean and reach toward the Son and times when we tilt away from Him. During the winter of the soul, our spirits are lifeless and colorless. The further we get from the Son, the colder our hearts grow. We feed on things not healthy to our spiritual wellbeing. The more we consume, the more we want. It’s a downward cycle halted only when we realize what’s happening, decide we don’t want to live in the dark and cold anymore, and turn towards the Son. 

Just as the remedy for Seasonal Affective Disorder is exposure to more light, so the remedy for our Spiritual Affective Disorder, also called sin, is exposure to the Light of the World, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Triune God, who left the light of the Father and heaven to come to earth and take the punishment for our sin so that we may live in the light forever.

“I am the light of the world,” the Son said. “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

“In Him was life,” wrote John the Apostle, “and that life was the light of men.”

Just like in the physical world, where’s there’s light, there’s life. Do you have that Light? Do you have eternal life?

If not, turn toward Him today and celebrate, not only the earthly birth of the Son, but also new life in Him (John 3). Celebrate your spiritual birthday this Christmas. 

As I light the fourth Advent candle, dear Lord, I am thankful that You left the glories of heaven to spread Your light in this dark world. Thank You for the light that gives life to my soul. Amen.

© 2004 by Michele T. Huey. All rights reserved

Ready for Christmas

            Prepare the way for the LORD… —Matthew 3:3 (NIV)

            Are you ready for Christmas? That’s a question we hear frequently this time of the year. What’s your answer? Yes, no, almost, not even close? 

            Holiday preparations can be overwhelming. Just looking at my do list tires me out! Shop ‘til I drop? Well, I drop in two hours. Spend the day cleaning, and the place looks great—but for how long? Vacuuming hurts my back. And baking? Well, in addition to the mess I have to clean up, all those carbs and calories send my blood sugar skyrocketing and my energy level plummeting. And the cost of postage makes me think twice about mailing Christmas cards. 

            It was fun when the kids were around, but when they grew up and left, Christmas became not a celebration, but an unwelcome interruption in my busy schedule. How had I gotten so out-of-touch with Christmas? 

            I focused on the wrong thing. I worked on making a good Christmas for my children, but when they left, my Christmas spirit went right out the door with them. 

            To regain the true focus of Christmas, I need to remind myself that the garlands, goodies, greetings, and guests are all part of the celebration of an awesome event: God becoming flesh, fulfilling of the prophecy that “a virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name ‘Immanuel,’ which is translated ‘God with us’” (Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 7:14).

            To get back in touch with Christmas, I must sift through the wrappings to find the real gift—the first Christmas present ever given: The baby Emmanuel: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

            And that’s a gift worth celebrating—and a celebration worth getting ready for!

            Are you ready for Christmas?

            As I light the third candle on my Advent wreath, O God, remind me of why I celebrate. Restore my Christmas spirit. Renew my joy. Amen.

Read and reflect on Isaiah 40:3–5; John 1:1–18; Colossians 1:15–19.

From God, Me, and a Cup of Tea for the Seasons © 2018, Michele Huey. All rights reserved.