Author: Jacqi Kambish
Know what I hate about winter? Everything. I live in the Colorado mountains and I get the full winter experience. I hate the frigid bone chilling mornings, I hate the windy face numbing afternoons, and I hate the arctic nights. I hate that stepping outside means navigating around dangers like impalement by icicles, hidden patched of slick ice, frostbite and other drivers on the icy road. The cold seeps in and a gloom begins to stir within me and a bit of despair rises up. By the time May rolls around, I’m struggling to find a glimmer of goodness to hang onto.
It is there though…the goodness and the light and the warmth. It’s hard for me to see it when the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder or other mental illness are threatening at my door, but it is there and at the very root of the goodness and light, is my faith.
I can see that there is beauty in the bitterly cold snow. The way it gleams off the trees and shines back at me with the reflection of the sun. It is breath taking. And it isn’t so different from the way the light of God’s Son reflects back at me from other believers. Their smiles, words of encouragement and prayers…they lift me up. They remind me of the hope I have in the true Light of Life, Christ Jesus.
John 1:4-5 says that “In [Christ] was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
The light shines in the darkness….
I realize that the Christmas season is hard for a lot of people. I regularly offer prayers for those tormented by memories and emptiness and loneliness. But for me, as I struggle through the short days and cold temperatures and fight against the gloom, Christmas is a bright reminder that the light still shines in the darkness. No matter how horrible and dark and evil this world becomes. And, I need that reminder.
There are times when the grip of depression cuts too deep and the hole feels too dark. It’s in those times that I have needed help on a physical and spiritual level. I know I’m not alone. I want to assure you that it’s ok to see a doctor and it’s ok to ask friends and family for prayer and help if you’re there. When I am in the depths of despair, I know that I can’t hold myself up and I need Christ to bring healing to my soul, faithful friendships to lean on, and sometimes medication to stop the downward spiral. My war with depression isn’t new and I have seen some very dark days. I believe that addressing depression takes a whole mind, body, and spirit approach. Believe me, I know the struggles are real and no amount of fluff can wipe them away. I need my mind and body to be well, but I need my soul to be well also.
I know what my body needs. It needs the triad of good nutrition, good exercise, and sometimes medication to stay balanced. My mind needs truth and goodness and scripture to think on and sometimes counseling. As far as my soul goes, looking to the joy and hope of Christ and clinging to that truth offers freedom; and a reminder that God is good and is present and that he cares.
I believe in Christ Jesus. I believe that he came to earth as God incarnate, lived through every experience of man, and that he is deeply moved by the hardships we face. When life is crushing, I believe in a good God who works as our Defender and offers peace to the weary soul even when I can’t feel him at work.
The God of all creation, the GREAT I AM, has made Himself fully known to us! And, at the very end of it all… good ultimately overcomes all that is wrong and evil and the chains that bind can be broken.
It is easy, in the misery of life, to believe the lyrics from ‘I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day’:
“And in despair, I bowed my head ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said, ‘For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men,”
The good news is that in the dawn of faith, the Spirit of God filters through our muck and…
“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep, ‘God is not dead, nor does he sleep, the wrong shall fall, the right prevail with peace on earth, good will to men.”
In the end, hope does prevail and peace and goodwill come near. We can still rise from ashes and sing. A bud still breaks through the snow and a gleam of light still touches the earth. Good still overcomes.
In this Christmas season, may we put aside the crowds and shopping sprees and controversial debates long enough to recognize and proclaim the goodness of Christ. Let our hearts and lives shine as brightly in the darkness as the bulbs on our homes and trees do. Even in a dark, cold, dreary winter season, may we find hope and joy and peace in the Light of Life. When the depression of our mind threatens to steal our joy, let us fix our eyes on what is good and be filled with awe. Then, let us seek the intervention we need to get back on track. There is good to come. Let us remember that, for Christians, this season is about worshiping a perfect and loving God who had mercy on us and who gently pursues us because he loves us deeply. In the difficulties, let us cling to hope. Let the lights in our homes be a reminder of the Light that has come into the world. Let our attitude and actions be a reflection of all that is good and noble. If not for yourself, then perhaps for souls like mine that need to be reminded sometimes – the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not (and cannot) overcome it.