The days of our lives.
The other day a dear friend confided he was in a funk this Christmas. Since we're about the same age I knew what he was talking about. That's boomer language if I ever heard it. Moderns may refer to it as a downer, or perhaps, an emotional ebb, or even the more psychologically correct depression. What he was experiencing is actually Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, a low time that as many as 45% of our friends and family wrestle with during the hap, happiest time of the year. The cause? Who knows? But many believe it is the result of unrealistic expectations and times of self-reflection as we survey the joys and blessings of the season. For many it signals a broken Christmas. And, the question of the hour is, how are we to mend a broken Christmas, or any other seasonal malaise without weekly visits to a therapist? That's the deal this week, how Scripture can help us deal with the downturns of emotional times.
Time is definitely a healer. In this case I'm not talking about the lapse of time that distances us from tragedy, crisis, or moments of personal difficulty. More significantly, this thought of time is reflection on the days of our lives, that is, a specific exercise where we scope past, present, and future for an assessment of life beyond right now. We all know the weight and longevity of hardship. People who understand the human mind are quick to affirm the way negatives are etched on the neural synapses of our memory systems. One way to over-ride the heaviness of a hard season of life is to remember and reflect on other times or anticipate times that are plotted in the future.
Sure, reading Scripture is always comforting. Still, the instruction and guidance of God's Word often launches us to very practical avenues for easing the outcomes of a funk or depression or downer. Take King David, for instance. The Psalms are a record of his many highs and lows, experiences triggered by palace and family intrigue, death, those who violently opposed him, temptation, sinful responses to life, warfare, and national calamity, to mention a few. Then one day, he wrote---
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12, ESV
It is a Psalm of personal and national reflection, a review of where they had been and where they were going. His prayer to be taught the value of the days of our lives was perhaps a hope based on the nation's past that would guide him and them beyond the rough spot they were encountering at the moment.
This days of our lives thing is always instructive. Do me a favor. Take a few
minutes and click here so you can visit an automated calculator and actually
count the days of your life. This site will give you a slightly different view of life by
days, weeks, months, and years right down to today. It's a cool conversation piece.
David prayed this prayer for a reason. He wanted a heart of wisdom so that he could evaluate his life past the weights of that day. This heart of wisdom helps us see the larger context of life, perhaps where God guided our past or promises he has given for the future. As one writer said in a book Harriet and I read a couple of years ago, this reflection on the days of our lives may help us get through what we will never get over.
This past weekend we were at our dad's house for the Holmes family Christmas. It's always a blessing to be with The Chester, my brother Mike and his wife Sally, their son Matt Holmes and his wife Laura; my sister Christie Williams, her husband David, their son josh and wife Dorothy and infant daughter Jules, their daughter Mollie; our daughter Liz, her husband Scott, and our grands John Lewis and Laura. Niece Laura, Matt's wife, wasn't with us this year because she's having a baby next month. Then there were two additional blank places in our annual picture----our mother Esther died in 2008, and our son Brian was murdered in 2011. We met this year on Brian's birthday. So, there was also a sadness hanging over the festivities. But, there were memories too, many fond ones. And, the expectation of baby Olivia being a part of our family in just a few weeks. Remembrance and expectation brought peace and hope to this day of our lives. Even more, in one of my funkier moments, our grandson John Lewis showed me and Harriet how to dab and whip and nae, nae. Here was a fresh entry point to the future. And, a bright spot in the days of our lives.
Yes, time it a healer. That all of time is in God's hands, the past, present, and the future is one power-packed way through the brokenness of a moment, even a broken Christmas. Being reminded of the broader scope of the days of our lives was a therapeutic reminder of an even greater consideration of time---
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman,
born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might
receive adoption as sons.
Galatians 4:4-5, ESV
At just the right time in human history God sent his son Jesus to redeem us. And, that changes the days of our lives.