Fighting SAD

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

“I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” – Jesus, as quoted in John 8:12 (NLT)

January, for me, is a long, dark month when I want to sleep and eat more, especially bread and pasta, carbs that put on the pounds and make me feel tired and achy. Not surprising, January is when I gain the most weight and am grumpier and moodier than in other months. And take the most afternoon naps.

These are all classic symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that hits folks during the winter months, when the daylight hours are shortest. Scientists believe the lack of sunlight affects the output of serotonin, which regulates mood, appetite, and sleep. The more serotonin you produce, the better you feel. Less grumpy, hungry, and tired.

Most years, we spend a week in South Carolina between Christmas and New Year’s Day, visiting our daughter and soaking up the Southern sun. This year we didn’t make the trip. What a difference! Only two weeks into January I’m dealing with the symptoms of SAD, which seem worse than other years. I attribute that to no Southern sun and all the gray, cloudy, dreary days we’ve endured here in Western Pennsylvania these past few months.

Since serotonin is affected by the amount of time spent in natural sunlight, the treatment for SAD is simple: more light.

Bright light therapy involves spending at least half an hour, usually in the morning, before a bright lamp called a light box specifically made to simulate natural sunlight.

This year I invested in a SAD lamp. I noticed a difference the first day I used it. I wasn’t so draggy and depressed. These SAD lamps are effective, but I need to stick with the program until the season changes and not stop once I start feeling better.

Biblically, darkness represents evil, sin, and ignorance – a lack of the knowledge of God and His goodness. Just as physical darkness is the absence of light, so spiritual darkness is the absence of the Light – the Son that shines in our souls when we open our hearts and lives and let Him in.

But throwing open the windows of our souls one time isn’t enough the help us as we battle the darkness of the world in which we must live. Just like a person affected by SAD must spend at least half an hour every morning absorbing light, so must our spirits spend time with the Light of the World every day, absorbing His Word and basking in His presence through prayer.

This – and only this – will give us the energy to say no to the bad carbs of temptation and avoid adding the weight of sin to our world-weary spirits. Spending time in the Sonlight will give us energy to exercise righteousness and will satisfy the taste buds of our souls (“O taste and see that the LORD is good” –Psalm 34:8).

The season of darkness won’t be over until Jesus, the Son of God, returns, but until then, you can fight the January blahs – both physically and spiritually – with a two-word plan: Fiat lux – Latin for “Let there be light!”

Thank you, Lord, for Your unending light that warms me, lightens my path, and fills me energy. Amen.

Read and meditate on Ephesians 5:8–14

© 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

A Deep, Dark Place

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From the LORD comes deliverance. Psalm 3:8 (NIV)

Decades ago, when the kids were still with us, we visited Indian Caverns. While I’d long grown out of my fear of the dark, my heart picked up pace and my breathing quickened as we toured the underground cave. It was dark. It was dank. It was scary, especially when the lights were extinguished so we could “see” and comprehend the deep, utter darkness—a darkness so profound I couldn’t see shapes, forms, or the hand in front of my face.

As I read Psalm 3 for my devotions this morning, I realized the writer, King David, was in a deep, dark place when he penned those words. His own son had betrayed him and usurped the throne. David had to flee for his life.

“How many are my foes!” he lamented. “How many rise up against me!”

I identified with his words. Not because I have foes (except one—see 1 Peter 5:8), but because I have woes. Because there are situations in my life that make me feel I’m “up agin it” with no way out.

You, too?

“How many are my woes!” we lament.

David didn’t wallow in his woes too long, if he wallowed at all. Because only two verses into this psalm, he’s turned the corner. He does this often in his writings—finds himself at the crossroads of Despair and Hope, and he chooses Hope—with one little word: “but” (other versions use “nevertheless”).

I call this “The ‘But’ Factor.” When in despair, factor in hope.

How? Let’s look at Psalm 3.

First, know that God is a shield around you (verse 3). Picture this. Nothing can touch you that doesn’t first go through Him, that He doesn’t allow. Everything that reaches you serves His purposes.

Second, know that when you cry to Him, He will answer (verse 4). Be sure of it. How do I know? Because He says so—right in His Word. He said it. I believe it. That settles it. God always keeps His promises. And because He has answered me in the past.

Third, you don’t have to stay up all night wrestling with worry. God’s got this: “I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me” (verse 5). Repeat this verse to yourself—quietly or aloud before you close your eyes for the night. Use it instead of counting sheep. (Who counts sheep, anyway? More likely we count our woes.)

Don’t let fear take control (v. 6). Over and over God’s Word tells us to “fear not,” “do not be afraid.” Fight that fear with your faith. Don’t have much faith, you say? Remember Peter. How much faith did it take for him to walk on the water? Just enough to take one step. (Actually, just enough to fling one hairy leg over the side of the boat.)

Fourth, pray specifically for deliverance from whatever it is that troubles you (v. 7). God may take away the trouble, smooth it out, provide a way out, or see you through it, giving you the peace and calm assurance that He will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).

And finally, know that true deliverance comes from one source, and one source only: the LORD—El Shaddai, Adonai, El Roi (the God who sees), Jehovah Jireh (the LORD will provide).

Are you in a deep, dark place?

Remember, you’re not alone. God is with you.

Your deliverance, beloved child of God, is imminent and sure.

Thank you, Father, that even in the deep, dark places of life, You are there and You provide deliverance. Deliver me today from worry, fear, doubt, uncertainty, and indecision. Bring me into the Light of Your presence and love. Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Psalm 3

OTHER SCRIPTURE TO READ: Psalm 46; John 1:1–5; John 8:12; Revelation 21:23, 25; 22:5

Photos courtesy of pixabay.com; CC0, public domain, no attribution required