Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; Genesis 1:14 NAS
To Him who made the great lights, for his lovingkindness is everlasting.
The sun to rule by day, for his lovingkindness is everlasting.
The moon and the stars to rule by night, for his lovingkindness is everlasting.
Psalm 136:7-9 NAS
This morning at 3:02 AM MST, here in our northern hemisphere, we marked the shortest day of the year; otherwise known as the first day of winter, or “Winter Solstice.” Because the earth orbits the sun in a tilted position (23.5 degrees), this is the moment that the North Pole is tilted as far away from the sun as it will be all year. So, if this causes the shortest day of the year, then obviously we will also experience the longest night of the year.
Let me share a “long night” story: It was the summer of 1996 and my Dad had just been officially diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Of course, the prognosis was not good. He was weary but still functioning somewhat normally at this point. On this particular August weekend I went up to McCall with he and his second wife, and my grandmother. We were staying in their shared cabin on the lake. It was a small, cozy two-bedroom cabin, so I slept on the couch which had seen better days and many a derriere. It was a fitful and long night. My heart and mind were preoccupied with the heaviness of Dad’s diagnosis, our limited time together, and even thinking about my mother’s passing the previous year. Soon I would be an “orphan” with both parents gone.
I guess I did finally succumb to sleep because the next thing I was aware of was the soft light of morning, “someone” tucking a blanket in around my exposed back, and then a tender kiss on the top of my head. As his footsteps tiptoed away, warm tears streamed sideways across my face and into my pillow. My Dad had once again given me a piece of himself to keep and cherish. Long nights can be transformed by light and lovingkindness.
Ancient cultures seriously followed the progress and the patterns of the sun by day, and the constellations of stars by night. They revered the survival gifts that were provided by sunlight upon the earth. Monuments were built to honor the sun. This shortest day was perhaps recognized with both gratitude for blessings, and with fear over the death of light. Would they be able to survive the dark days which lay ahead?
Long nights. Long periods of darkness. Sounds like 2020, doesn’t it? We can all identify with this analogy. The common cord of uncertainty weaves its way throughout our concerns over Covid-19, weather catastrophes, extreme fires and economic worries. Most of us have never experienced anything like this. But, we can choose to focus on the everlasting, lovingkindness of our God to be WITH us during these dark days. As believers we are promised his presence in the midst of our troubles. Never were we promised NO troubles. So, look to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for guidance, wisdom, provision, hope and peace in this long period of darkness. Believe in the hope of renewal that will come, for his lovingkindness is everlasting.
Oh God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come…
we thank you for the abundance that the sunlight has provided to us this past season of light. Be with us in our shortened days and longer nights of winter and in this season of so many uncertainties. Help us to embrace YOUR light, carry it in our hears and let it shine through us.