When the Light Goes Out

Going snowmobiling 750 miles above the Arctic Circle—where the temperature is twenty below zero—isn’t everybody’s idea of fun, but it was ours. So, my husband Toby and I, our guide, and a few other bold adventurers climbed onto snowmobiles in Kjøllefjord, Norway and drove into the frozen wilderness.

At the top of a mountain pass, the guide asked us to cut our engines and park. It was only 4:00 PM, yet we found ourselves surrounded by a darkness so absolute and unforgiving that we couldn’t even see our own snowmobiles. It was frightening. After a moment, the guide said, “welcome to the darkness that we live with twenty-four hours a day for two solid months in the winter.”

I thought about how disorienting, lonely, and profoundly sad it could feel to live in a place where there is no guarantee of the sun rising. Then I thought about the 280 million people
worldwide who live in the unforgiving darkness of depression, not knowing if the dawn will come.

Let’s be clear: depression is not a fault or a weakness or a sin. I once heard a preacher say, “Feeling depressed doesn't mean you lack faith any more than being happy means you have it.” Depression strikes indiscriminately. In fact, the Bible tells us that Job, Jonah, Moses, King David, and the Apostle Paul all experienced bouts of depression and hopelessness. The Psalmist wrote about it too, saying “The Lord drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog” (Psalm 40: 1-2). Friends, you don’t write words like that unless you’ve been there.

The good news is that despite how isolated we might feel when we’re in that darkness, we are not alone. During the trip, our guide pointed out the lights of a tiny town on the Fjord below. He explained that years ago when the farms there were miles apart, people would keep a candle burning in the window during the dark winter months to show their neighbors that all was well. If someone fell ill, ran short of food, or needed help in any way, the candle would be blown out to signal that the farm was in crisis and needed aid.

For this simple but powerful system to work, two things had to happen: the people in crisis had to be willing to ask for help, and the neighbors had to keep watch for each other’s
lights. Asking for help is an act of power, not weakness, and giving it is our holy duty. We are all God’s children, so if one of our neighbors reaches out for help, we must reach back.
Maybe that means offering a listening ear or enabling a person to get professional help.

How many people whose light has gone out do we pass every day and not even notice?

How many of us are trying desperately to keep a light on when we’re in crisis?

Sometimes it may seem that you are living in an arctic darkness that will never lift, but the dawn will come. You are not alone. Help is available. As Jeremiah 58 promises: “Then your
light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly . . . you shall cry for help, and the Lord will say, ‘Here I am.’”

CLICK HERE to find more inspiration via photos, articles, and sermons. Until next time, as we say in the motorcycle world . . . keep the shiny side up and the rubber side down!