When the Lights are Low

When the Lights are Low, Patti Wade Zint

When the Lights are Low

As I was messing with the dimmer switch to get the lights at just the right level I wanted – not too bright and yet not as if they are almost off – I noticed the intensity of light through the globes revealed more or less of the actual bulb.  Okay, I’m not an electrician or scientist so I’m probably not putting it properly, but the brighter the light thrown from the bulbs, the less I could actually see the bulbs.  And that made me think of something in the crazy way things like that make me think…when the lights are low, I can better see them. 


Bright is a word we use when we’re happy, when things seem to be going our way, when we’re expecting something wonderful or when we’ve done something pretty clever.  I think most of us associate brightness with positive and uplifting moments in our life.  Its spotlight time and it highlights those things that make us laugh and grin and sing and do the happy dance.  We praise God for these bright times!

Low is a word we think of relating to when we are sad, blue, depressed, broke, lonely, etc.  We say we are feeling low and the message it carries tells the listener that something is bothering us, something is wrong, something hurts.  Many times we cry, or choke back the tears when we’re low, try to hide that feeling from others.  People want happy people around them…not frowny, sad faces.  But low denotes sadness, sorrow, hurt, pain. And when I’m lowest, my heart hungers for and actively seeks God. 

We all have raw feelings.  We all hurt and cry whether we admit it or not.  We all have prayers that aren’t answered in the way we want them to be answered, and we have dreams that have been shattered.  We’ve all felt the brokenness, the despondency, and the ache that takes up residence when something happens that takes everything we’ve known and loved and turned it ugly.  We know pain.  We know sorrow.   We know what its like to cry ourselves to sleep at night.  

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8 

I’ve tried to imagine those bottles; I think mine is the size of Texas.  I wonder sometimes why God wants to keep those tears.  Is it because when I’m low he’s with me, because I’m broken and he works through me then?  Is it because he cares so much that every tear matters?  I can’t stand when someone cries; it hurts me seeing someone’s pain.  I want their tears to go away; I certainly don’t want to keep them.  But God does and because of that, they must be precious to him in a way I can’t yet understand.   

There’s another promise I hold onto, and that is that the dimness won’t last. I know I’m not the only person feeling low right now; I know so many who are hurting, and the holidays are especially hard.  I remind myself that I won’t stay here…that what I feel now will change later.  Today a friend shared her own story and how she couldn’t see “later” during her lowest time, but she did seek God and found something more amazing than she’d ever dreamed. It’s her “later” now and she glows with happiness. 

Though the lights are low, if I look for Him, God will provide the healing and in time I’ll shine.   

Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.  Isaiah 58:8

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