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.

Lessons from the Sea Turtle

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. –Psalm 42:5 (NIV)

When my husband and I visited the Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head Island, I became fascinated with sea turtles.

I learned that Mama Sea Turtle lays her eggs—as many as 120 at a time—in a nest she digs on a sandy beach, far enough away from the shoreline that the tides won’t reach it, yet close enough for the baby turtles to make their way to their ocean home once they’ve hatched and climbed out of the nest.

Sixty days after they’re laid, the eggs hatch, and the hatchlings make their way to the shoreline. Thirty to 35 years later, females will return to the beaches where they hatched to lay their own eggs.

The baby turtles’ lives are fraught with danger—mostly from predators on land and in the sea—but the period they are most vulnerable is when they make their trek from the nest to the shoreline.

Once they’ve hatched, the little turtles head for the brightest horizon. Hence during hatching season the lights on beachfront buildings are turned off and residents close their window blinds at night so the hatchlings don’t head for the wrong light.

Not only are they exposed to predators on their dash to the sea, but also they’re in danger of dehydration from the sun. Many don’t make it.

Yet helping them get from nest to surf is not in the best interest of the turtles. Although it’s a time fraught with danger, it’s necessary for the young turtles to make the trek themselves.

The crawl to the ocean allows them to wake up—remember they are only hours old. Alertness, mobility, and strength increase as they move.

The trek is also an important part of a complicated process whereby their surroundings are imprinted on the brains of the baby turtles, so the females will return to the very beaches where they hatched to lay their own eggs.

I liken the hatchlings’ crawl to the ocean to the times in our lives when we, too, have to muddle through. Let’s take a lesson from the sea turtle.

First, head for the right light. Many false lights clamor for our attention, but only one Light is the right one that will lead us to our eternal home. “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).

Second, know the trek is necessary. The trial will make you stronger. It will refine you: “For you, O God, have tested us; you refined us like silver” (Psalm 66:10). It will develop perseverance and maturity: “The testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:3–4).

Also, trials purify your faith: “These (trials) have come so that your faith—of even greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine” (1 Peter 1:7).

And finally, the trials impress upon us that our lives are not random wanderings. We were made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26–27)—thus we bear His imprint. “He has set eternity in the hearts of men” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). After our sojourning, which will include many times of trial, we’ll find our way to home—and our Creator—again.

Thank you, Jesus, for being the Light that guides me through the muddling times and to home. Amen.

Read and reflect on Psalm 42.

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.