Living in the Light

For most of my life I have suffered with SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder.  I cycle through a period of depression every year, and actually more often than not, as cloudy days come and finally go.  I was pleased to read that this pattern is not a moral failure but instead a medical condition.  People choose different ways to manage this malady.  One of the most important ways to treat it may be to get more light exposure. The symptomatic list certainly describes my experience: lack of energy, weakened immune system, irritability, lack of concentration, over-eating and weight gain, alcohol or drug abuse, feelings of guilt and worry, sleep problems and social and relational problems.

Because of SAD and other forms of depression, I have been plagued most of my adult life, I have often felt that I was living in a dark place.  The longing in me for the warm, rejuvenating sun and its light drew me to search for what the bible says will help me. Years ago, I started to mark all the places where light is referred to in the scripture.  By now I have memorized many references and I recite them in times of depression.  One of my favorites is from 1 John 1:5-7; ‘’God is light, in him there is no darkness at all.”  Also John 1:4 reveals, “In Him (Jesus) was life and that life was the light of men.” Jesus was and is the true light that gives light to every man.

There are so many more examples.  As I’ve studied light, I’ve also looked at its synonyms.  Light is illuminating. Illumination is often tied with truth.  Truth confronts the lies that often accompany depression.  It is like a torch that shines on a pathway in the dark.  It reveals the obstacles and makes the way plain.

Alongside illumination is clarity.  Depression causes confusion and difficulty making decisions.  God promises to enter our shadowed times and bring clear direction.  For me it’s like the clearing of the overcast sky which allows a true view of the landscape.  As it clears, so does the fog of our thinking.

Fear also accompanies the low times in our lives: “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1)  He brings light and He saves me in every way.

With fear often come anxiety, worry and false guilt.  Jesus speaks to worry in Matt.6:25, referring to the flowers and birds that the Father cares for.  Most importantly He speaks to our value as God’s beloved children.  My long habit has been to turn from worry to prayer. And so with false guilt, I remind myself of His forgiveness and let Him shed light on what is true and what is false guilt.

Lastly, I want to share an antidote the Lord has given us for depression and negativity, Gratefulness.  I have learned that I must choose to reverse my thought processes.  Looking at the beauty around us, our relationships, and the gifts God has given us begins to interrupt the negative cycle. This enables us to “lift our eyes up to the heavens, from whom our help comes.” (Psalm 121)  We have been called out of darkness into glorious light. (1 Peter 2:9)