With the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere just days away, my thoughts turn to how truly blessed we are to have sunshine.
Sure, we don’t get as much of it as we’d like to in December, but here in Canada we sure make up for it in June!
As I think about this, I remember how endless those long nights of December can be. Isn’t it a blessing that God planted Christmas just in the midst of those long, dark days? A season where we appreciate the extra darkness in order to be able to enjoy the lights of the season. I remember the one memorable Christmas we spent in New Zealand. Oh, we had the long days, all right! But I remember saying to my husband that I truly missed the Christmas lights!
Last week, in Summer Solstice, Part 1, we compared the long summer days and the long winter nights to the circumstances we go through in life. We talked about how seeking God’s comfort and help, how praising Him in the midst of the storms, will help those dark days to go by more quickly. As I think about God’s blessings in planting something as colourful as Christmas in the middle of the darkest Canadian season, I am also impressed that God plants bright spots in the midst of our darkest circumstances as well!
Last week I used my journey through the valley of cancer as an example, and in keeping with this, I have often marveled at God’s multiple blessings to me through that time. Never a day went by when He didn’t send me encouragement. He put competent and caring medical professionals in my path, He took care of all my time problems, He comforted my family, He listened to me blubber and complain and was always there with a spiritual “tissue” and some gentle but well-timed lessons for me. I have said it so many times: God has never been so near and so personal as He was during what was the darkest valley of my life. In essence, God planted “Christmas lights” in the midst of my dark valley. And why should I be surprised at this? Doesn’t the Bible tell us, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them…” (Rom. 8:28 NLT)?
As I continue to think about those short days in December, it occurs to me that though it isn’t pleasant (or good for the health!) to have so little natural light, God makes up for this by sending us the long summer days. Though those weeks leading up to the winter solstice seem endless, they are really quite short when you compare them to the rest of the year. There are, after all, over 12 hours of daylight in our area for most of the year! I remember when we wintered in the Caribbean. Every day boasted 12 hours of daylight, give or take a half an hour, and this is apparently how it is all year long, due to their proximity to the equator. So while I complain about those three months with little daylight, most of my year actually boasts more daylight than the Caribbean!
I believe the same concept applies to the dark days of our lives. They may seem endless, yes. But when you stand back and compare those dark days to the rest of your lives, I believe that if you are perfectly honest with yourself you will realize that the dark times are truly the minority; that God has surrounded you the majority of the time with mountain top experiences! Back to the example of my cancer experience, the worst of the darkness lasted about four months; but if you count the five following years of being followed by oncology, I could say that the entire experience was about six years long. Given that I have lived 57 years, I have most definitely had more good times than bad! Isn’t this what the world’s wisest man meant when he penned these words:
“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.” (Eccl. 3:1-4 NLT)?
I recently was given an object lesson. We were asked to write all of our current problems on a blank sheet of paper. Believe me, mine took up lots of that page. We were then asked to bring that page in close to our eyes. Yup! That’s how my problems looked. They enveloped all of what I could see. We were then instructed to move the page arm’s-length away. Suddenly the rest of the room came into view and my list of problems really didn’t look all that bad, comparatively speaking. That is how God sees our dark days of valley times: As just a moment in our lives. And during that moment, He is right there, just like the lights of Christmas, to bring us all the help we need to get through the trials. Hasn’t He promised: “be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’ So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?'” (Heb. 5b-6 NLT)
Besides, I think that if I didn’t have those short days in winter, I wouldn’t appreciate the long days of summer nearly as much… Could it be that the same is true of my valley experiences?
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, andScriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, withAnswers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.