When SAD Hits …

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. – 1 John 1:5 NKJV

Several years ago I spent a week in January visiting my brother in Alabama. It was nothing short of glorious for this winter-weary western Pennsylvania gal. The daytime temperature ranged from the mid-60s to the low 70s, the southern sun shone in cloudless blue skies, and a light jacket was all I needed when I ventured outside.

And outside I went every day but one, soaking in as much sunshine—and vitamin D—as I could on my daily walks. I returned home re-energized in body, mind, and spirit.

There’s energy in the sun’s rays, and for northerners like me who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), time spent in the sun is just the prescription needed to fight the lethargy, carb cravings, brain fog, low energy, and everything else associated with what’s also called the winter blues.

Living where I do, I can’t do anything about the shorter daylight hours that disrupt my body’s internal clock, but I can take steps to fight the symptoms.

Since a lack of adequate sunlight is the main cause of SAD, I spend as much time absorbing natural light during the winter months as I can. In addition to taking vitamin D supplements, I need to exercise regularly to boost my flagging metabolism and avoid the sugary and starchy foods that just create the craving for more of same.

We can suffer from spiritual SAD, too. Seasons of spiritual doldrums descend on all of us throughout life. Like with physical SAD, spiritual SAD can be overcome—but you can’t just wait it out, hoping it’ll go away on its own. You have to recognize the symptoms and make the effort to fight it.

The prescription is the same: more light, exercise, and the right food.

Get more light by spending more time with the SON.

“I am the Light of the World,” Jesus said. “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). I spend time with the Son when I read the Gospels, allowing His words to soak into my spirit. All of God’s Word, for that matter, is “lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105).

The second Rx is exercise. Daily walking by faith boosts a flagging spiritual metabolism, strengthening flabby spiritual muscles. I exercise faith when I trust God to provide what I need and not take matters in my own pathetic hands, when I wait for His guidance and not run ahead of Him, and when, instead of demanding my own way, I leave the choice to Him.

Finally, the proper spiritual nourishment will help us avoid craving the wrong things—the junk that too often clutters our lives and clogs our joy. “My food,” Jesus once said, “is to do the will if Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4:34). In other words, obedience.

Have you spent time with the Son today?

When S.A.D. hits, remind me, Lord, to seek the Son, for He is always shining. Amen.

Read and reflect on John 1:1–12.

© 2015 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

No Special Privileges

“Blessed Art Thou” painting by Howard Lyon

. . . and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called the Christ. – Matthew 1:16 NIV

 And a sword will pierce your own soul too. – Luke 2:35 NIV

The last woman to be named in “The Begats” of the first chapter of Matthew, Mary was a far cry from the other four. Unlike Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth, Mary, from the tribe of Judah and of the lineage of David, was thoroughbred Jewish. And unlike Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba, Mary was pure in every way—body, mind, heart, and soul.

Other than her role in the Christmas story, what do we know of her?

We know that she was probably a young teenager when the angel Gabriel appeared to her to tell her that she was to be the mother of the Messiah. We know that she grew up in Nazareth, a disreputable town of about seven thousand in the hills of Galilee. We know that she was betrothed to a carpenter named Joseph, also from Nazareth, who was probably about thirty years of age.

We know that Joseph was a good man, just and sensitive, and who most likely died before Jesus entered public ministry.

We know that she, still a virgin, gave birth to the Son of God in a stable in Bethlehem with her husband as the midwife. We know they were too poor to afford the lamb required for the sacrifice when she went to the temple forty days after Jesus’ birth for the purification ceremony.

We know that she spent the first couple of years of her married life as a fugitive, hiding in Egypt from a crazy king who was set to kill her son.

After their return to Nazareth following Herod’s death, we see Mary briefly only five more times in Scripture: in the temple in Jerusalem when she admonished twelve-year-old Jesus for staying behind after the Passover and not telling them (Luke 2:41–52); at the wedding in Cana, where, at her request, Jesus performed his first recorded miracle (John 2:1–5; in Capernaum when she and her other sons tried to see Jesus but received not a welcome but a rebuff (Matthew 12:46–50; Mark 3:21, 31–34); at the foot of the cross, watching her son die a horrific death (John 19:25–27); and in the upper room with the apostles after Jesus’ ascension into heaven (Acts 1:14).

No special privileges came with being the mother of God’s Son. Her acceptance of Gabriel’s message meant possible disgrace, divorce, and even death, as those guilty of having sex outside of marriage were stoned. After her burst of worship in the famous Magnificat, she steps humbly and submissively into the background.

She feared for her son’s life when He was but a baby. She raised Him, nurtured Him, trained Him in the way He should go, admonished Him, tried to intervene when His schedule was so heavy He had no time to eat, watched Him die like a common criminal in the most public, humiliating way.

As Simeon predicted when Jesus was mere months old, a sword, indeed, pierced her mother’s soul.

No special privileges except to bear and raise the Son of God—then, like all mothers eventually do, let Him go.

I often think that I deserve special privileges because I’ve been obedient. I pray about what I think are unmet needs: the kitchen floor (a painted subfloor), the roof that needs replaced, the two aging vehicles in our driveway.*

But God reminds me that I have much more than Mary, whose floor was probably dirt and who doubtless didn’t even have a donkey for travel. I have a roof over my head, a warm, dry bed to sleep in, enough vegetables and meat (venison) to feed me and my husband for a year. My husband has a steady job. We are both relatively healthy.

Yes, God promises blessings for obedience. But sometimes I’m blind to the real blessings because I’m too focused on the wrong things.

In this New Year, I pray that God will give me the eyes to see His blessings, the ears to hear His commands, the mouth to praise Him, the mind and soul to know Him, the heart to love Him, and the desire to serve Him.

Open my eyes, O Lord, to Your abiding presence in my life, Your abundant provision, Your awesome plan, and Your able protection. Thank You for reminding me that I’m not poor at all. Amen.

Read and reflect on Luke 1:26–56.

*This was written in 2010. Since then, these needs have been met.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.