December 09, 2022 · by Heidi Stewart
Everybody knows, especially mamas, that with the winter months, comes more sickness. As soon as the days start to shorten and the air turns cold, we start to hear of families whose little ones have a cough or the flu. It spreads quickly and everyone turns to their preferred method of treatment; whether syrups or supplements or over-the-counter medicine, everyone goes directly to treatment. Some focus on prevention: hand-washing, avoiding crowds where others have been sick, wiping down toys and surfaces to disinfect them.
Research gives us a pretty clear cut reason as to why sickness spreads so easily during these cold, dark months.
Scientists who published their findings in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology did a study of the response mechanisms in peoples’ noses to bacteria. “Previous research from the team had found that when we breathe, cells inside our nose release tiny particles called extracellular vesicles (EVs) that swarm, bind and kill bacteria - just like hornets would swarm you if you attacked their nest.” Essentially, our noses do this just fine in warm weather, but when our noses are cold, there are less EVs produced and they pack less of a punch, leaving a person more susceptible to the intruding virus.
Additionally, people are indoors more in the winter time so it’s a more confined space for viruses to pass easily from person to person. What else do we do in the winter time? We eat yummy foods all season long! Pumpkin pie anyone? While these foods taste amazing and are a fun part of the season’s festivities, they don’t exactly provide nutrients for an immune system in need. Most of us also get less physical exercise for a number of reasons: the cold days make you want to curl up with a blanket, the holidays are an insanely busy time and there’s less sunlight for outdoor activities.
Naturally our bodies’ systems start to weaken. We’re getting less Vitamin D (a crucial part of a strong immune system) and our blood isn't flowing as freely. We’ve established that part of this is beyond our control – our bodies' biological response is slowed by the cold weather – while some of it is a result of choices we tend to make regarding food and exercise during this busy season.
The same is true for the spiritual.
There are some dark times that are beyond your control. Seasons you walk through that leave you vulnerable to the voice of the enemy, physically and spiritually fatigued. Some of it you cannot change; grief, loss, confusion and pain are not just wished away. Some of it you can aggravate further by letting your guard down, “eating” things that aren’t healthy for your spirit or heart, not exercising faith.
However, knowing that you’re more vulnerable during these seasons gives you a heads up; it’s time to bolster that spiritual immune system.
Just like the body needs its blood flowing, you need to connect to the Body of Christ. When you’re in unity with your brothers and sisters, the blood of Jesus flows throughout and heals the body. There is strength in that unity, ESPECIALLY if you’re in a cold, dark season.
Eat things that are nourishing your spirit. YouTube is fun, Instagram is fun, but they’re not nutritious. The Word of God is the bread of life. It quite literally gives life to a hungry heart. Feed your spirit with words of faith and watch your spirit respond. Listen to worship that inspires faith, not music that glorifies worldliness. What you eat is what you will become.
Spend time in prayer, allow the Great Physician to strengthen your resolve and steady your gaze on the prize again. It amazes me that in the “summer time” of our lives we can go for weeks without prayer but as soon as the dark times hit we find ourselves wondering what’s happened. We need prayer in the good times and the bad. When life is going great and when it’s crashing down, we need the relationship with the King.
You can’t prevent dark times altogether; just like the natural world goes in cycles, your life will too. Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time for every season. Micah tells us that we will fall and sit in darkness but that we’ll arise, and the Lord will be a light unto us.
If you’re going through a “winter” season in your life, allow the Lord to be a light to you. Take comfort in His Word and stay close to Him in prayer. He will minister to the needs of your heart and your morning will come.