Daylight Saving Time

March 3, 2020

Sunday, March 8, is the start of daylight saving time for us in Ohio, and for many others around the world. We “spring forward” by setting our clocks ahead one hour, and then on November 1 we will “fall back” by turning our clocks back again. Many refer to it as “losing an hour of sleep” or “gaining an hour of sleep.” Today about 40% of countries worldwide do it in at least part of their geographical territory. It affects over 1 billion people, and the start and stop dates vary.

Ever wonder why we do that and how it got started? A few places in Canada experimented with the idea for their own advantage starting in 1908, but it caught on widely in 1916 in Germany and Austria. The rationale was to stretch daylight and minimize the use of artificial lighting during World War I and save the fuel for the war effort.

Contrary to popular belief, American farmers did not lobby for daylight saving to have more time to work in the fields; in fact, the agriculture industry was deeply opposed to the time switch when it was first implemented on March 31, 1918, as a wartime measure. The sun, not the clock, dictated farmers’ schedules, so daylight saving created some major disruptions to their schedule. Farmers had to wait an extra hour for dew to evaporate in order to harvest hay. Cows weren’t ready to be milked an hour earlier to meet shipping schedules. The agricultural interests led the 1919 repeal of national daylight saving time, which passed when Congress voted to override a veto by President Woodrow Wilson. Urban entities such as retail outlets and recreational businesses have been the champions of daylight saving time over the decades.

There are a few documented benefits of DST, however.

  • There’s more light to enjoy in the evening. After work it gives people time to spend in the daylight hours and generally improves dispositions and enjoyment.
  • The crime rate drops during DST. There is a 27% drop in crime when the evening hours are light!
  • It minimizes energy consumption and makes us conserve valuable resources.
  • DST lowers the rate of traffic accidents. In fact, research show if we used DST year-round, we would save hundreds of lives yearly.

Now, I am not advocating for DST. But I thought it was interesting to realize the thought behind it. Jesus did quite a bit of talking about daylight and darkness. Those of us who are accustomed to DST can get quite excited about the extended light and the blessings it brings to us physically. While it’s normal for most of us to struggle a little bit when the dark and cold of winter drags on, the deprivation of light that comes with winter is a serious problem for some people. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a condition marked by the onset of depression during the late fall and early winter months, when less natural sunlight is available. Scientists say it occurs when daily body rhythms become out-of-sync because of the reduced sunlight.

The spiritual darkness Jesus talks about is a human problem that affects all of us. When Isaiah prophesied the coming of Jesus he said with great joy: “The people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light!” When Jesus came, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12 NIV). John said, “God is light and in him is no darkness at all.” We who are Jesus followers are called to be the light of the world—why? Darkness affects us spiritually and leads to danger, despair, and destruction. Jesus comes to be the light that diffuses the dark and brings us hope and direction.

What encouragement from Jesus! Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? If anyone walks in the daytime, he will not stumble, because he sees by the light of this world” (John 11:9 BSB).

Then Jesus told them, "For a little while longer, the Light will be among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going” (John 12:35 BSB).

Jesus also referred to the need we have for daylight to accomplish what is necessary. “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4 NIV).

As the summer is winding down, we can see the farmers working longer and longer in the fields, making certain to accomplish their necessary work before harvest time is over. We work long hours in our yards, trying to get all our landscaping done. The extra daylight allows us to get vital work accomplished.

Jesus said His intentional work was because He knew that the time for effective labor was limited; night was coming, and He would no longer have opportunities. The same for us. We must have a clear vision, a great purpose, and intentional action. The daylight is limited. Nighttime is coming.

Daylight Saving Time—it’s coming. Don’t forget to set your clocks. 😊