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

The Christmas Light

The people living in darkness have seen a great light.  – Matthew 4:16 (NIV)

In 1986, Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness shot to the top of the bestseller list and stayed there for nearly three years. Based on Ephesians 6:12, the book addressed spiritual warfare: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (ESV).

In 1995 Left Behind, a novel about end times based on Scripture, was released. Three years later, the first four of what would be a 16-book series held the top four spots on the New York Times bestseller list simultaneously. By the time the final book of the series was published in 2007, the media looked to authors Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye as end times experts. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about darkness and end times lately. And not only because we’re right smack dab in the middle of the darkest part of the year or because I’ve recently read Where Do We Go From Here? How Tomorrow’s Prophecies Foreshadow Today’s Problems by Dr. David Jeremiah. 

While I don’t see the devil behind every tree, I do believe in spiritual warfare and believe it has been increasing. While I leave the future (and the present) in God’s hands and believe only He understands fully the prophecy about the Antichrist, I see an anti-Christ spirit growing at an alarming rate. The world is getting darker and darker.

But the world was a dark place 2,000 years ago when God sent the first Christmas Light. Born during a time when the Jews were subject to (and persecuted by) a tyrannical Roman government, God’s Son was born in a stable and laid in a manger. Mary and Joseph had to take Him and flee to Egypt because a crazy, jealous king ordered hundreds of baby boys murdered to eliminate any competition to his throne. A little over three decades later, after spending three years doing good, He was deserted by those closest to Him, rejected by the nation He came to save, and executed on trumped up charges.

But “in Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not understood it (can never extinguish it)” (John 1:5).

Jesus was the first Christmas light, and He still shines today, giving us hope for a better future when He returns:

 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth . . . I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God . . . God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. . . . There will be no more night . . . for the Lord God will give them light” (Revelation 21:1–22:5).

So don’t despair when you hear the latest news. Let the Christmas lights remind you of the hope that is yours through faith in the Baby whose birth those lights celebrate.

Let the Christmas lights shine brighter than the darkest news headlines, and remind me of the Light of the World, to whom every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He alone is Lord! Amen.

Read and reflect on Isaiah 9:2–7

© 2012 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.