Five weeks into the new year has come with its ups and its downs. I will blame the low moments on sleep deprivation and the gloomy, gray skies that winter brings. It really is amazing the healing power the sun possesses, especially in the winter months. Even more amazing is the God that created it…he understands our limitations. Too many gloomy days in a row is hard on the soul – and then He rushes in a morning filled with beautiful, warm sunlight. Its effect is a feeling much like a hug from someone you love when you have been stuck in a very dark and lonely place.
My life up until this moment has not been without dark and lonely times. As young as six years old I remember struggling with depression. My parents divorce brought on a long and lasting sadness that I carried with me for a period of several years. Having three children in three years has left me physically drained and on an emotional roller coaster. In some moments I am overwhelmed with all of the responsibilities that come along with caring for small children, and in the next moment one of them says or does something so wonderfully precious and innocent that my cup just overflows with gratitude for their presence in my life. Ups and downs have become normal and honestly, in this life, I don’t think that will ever change. What is changing is how I let myself react to the downs. Romans 5:3-5 has sustained me over the last several weeks:
“We can rejoice when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. This hope will NOT lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”
My problem was that I had never rejoiced through my suffering before. And it explains my feelings of hopelessness throughout the lowest points in my life. Joy in the midst of suffering is what gives us hope – no joy, no hope. So how do we rejoice when we find ourselves in the dark? It is essential to spend time alone with God. Baths have become really important to my emotional well-being…it is a time for me to be alone, completely by myself with the Lord. And I pray. And I meditate on what is to come. I ask God to allow me to clearly see the big picture and not to be swallowed up in the troubles of today.
I don’t know who is reading this. I do not know your struggles or what you are trying to deal with all on your own, but if you find yourself overwhelmed and empty, as soon as you can find a way to get alone with God. Take a walk around your neighborhood, go for a drive, take a hot bath. Go to him with your troubles. Ask him to fill your heart with joy. Your darkness will fade away and your hope will be in the promise of an eternity in heaven. The outside world might be dark and gloomy, but if your heart is dependent on Him your light will shine. And it will shine bright.
Our January in pictures…