Surviving the ‘Dog Days’

31 Jul

DogDaysOfSummerI watch my dog cool down every summer as August approaches in hot San Diego. Roscoe sits on the cool wood floor and camps out in front of our revolving fan. Sometimes he turns his head toward the fan, and I laugh as his ears fly out behind him. He moves his head back and forth to catch every bit of the cool, refreshing breeze.

As August continues, I often find him panting there. And believe me, there have been days I’ve wanted to join Roscoe on the floor!

It’s always tough going during the “Dog Days” of summer – unless you’re at the beach. Or running your air condition most of the day. ($$$$$$$!!!!)

I wondered where the phrase “dog days” came from.

I discovered in the Northern Hemisphere, these days occur most often in July and August. During this time, a constellation named Orion (the Hunter) appears in the sky. It is near the constellation Canis Major (greater dog), and according to tales about the constellations, Canis Major is one of Orion’s hunting dogs.

A star in this “dog” constellation, on the front of the dog’s neck, is called Sirius (the Constellations_OrionAndCanisMajorDog Star). It’s an extremely bright, intense star. As July/early August arrives, Sirius seems to get “lost” in the sky; but the ancients knew the “Dog Star” was still there. And they felt (logically, to them) the searing, bright star added to the heat of the season.

The Romans called these days “Caniculares dies,” or “days of the dogs.” According to Wikipedia,  the Romans even sacrificed a red dog in the springtime to appease the supposed rage of Sirius. Apparently they believed the star was the sinister cause of the “hot, sultry weather.”

These are tales from ancient mythology, but the name stuck. Weather-casters still refer to the “dog days of summer.”

Spiritually, I have days when I struggle in some “heat.” It plum wears me out until I look for the place of rest.

While some “heat” comes from the circumstances of life, there’s another kind of “heat” that comes from within.

King David understood this. He spoke of a particular time when this “heat” seemed to suck the life out of him. David said in Psalm 32:4:

“For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.”

What was David talking about? We find out in the next verse: “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin” (v. 5).

When we hide and refuse to acknowledge our sin, it adds pressure and stress to our life like “the heat of summer.”

Sin weighs heavy on our soul. Soon, we feel depleted — our strength and vitality plummet. Suffering spiritual “heat stroke,” we suffer until we seek relief.

The marvelous blessing is, there IS relief. Sin brings guilt, but that’s a good thing!

Guilt is God’s gift to us to drive us toward His love and forgiveness.

To “survive the heat,” must come to the Lord in brokenness and repentance, baring our sins before Him; then we can sit in blessing (v. 1), covered by the cool breezes of His forgiveness.

Do you feel like your strength is “dried up” under the weight of a particular sin? Where does this psalm say you can find relief and the blessing of refreshment?

– Dawn

Constellation graphic from here.

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