Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  …The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

Surviving January

January 24th is regarded by many psychologists as the most depressing day of the year. Which makes sense — the winter weather is cold and dark; most trees are bare and lifeless; the credit card bill for all those generous Christmas gifts is coming due; your to-do list at your job has grown overwhelming while you took time off for the holidays; you have likely already failed at your New Year resolution; and, your motivational level is low after an action-packed holiday season.  

Psychologists have plenty of recommendations to remedy the winter blues. Suggestions include: clean out one area of your home that is messy to produce a feeling of accomplishment; try a new activity to give yourself a sense of growth; stop doing one thing in your life that you don’t enjoy to convince yourself that you are in control; make a list of accomplishments and lessons learned during the past year to discover fulfillment; use a light therapy lamp to battle the seasonal effect.

There is nothing wrong with these activities. In fact, they might be helpful for surviving January. But such inward reflection cannot provide lasting relief from depression. St. Paul points out in Romans 7:18, “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”  We will always find the stain of sin when we look inward, and it will inevitably lead us back into the hole of depression if we expect to find something good that makes us feel better about ourselves. 

Perhaps a better January survival method is found outside ourselves — in God’s promises. When we regularly go to the cross and remind ourselves of God’s love for us in Jesus we find our worth, our fulfillment, our purpose. Jesus conquered Satan with his perfect life and paid for your sin with his innocent death. His perfect payment for sin means you are forgiven by God. You are valuable to Him! He knows you better than you know yourself. You are never alone. He is always near, with you every moment of your life working for your eternal welfare. He has an eternity planned for you in heaven that surpasses your wildest dreams. Look forward to it!  Rejoice in it every day! Look to God’s promises first and foremost to remedy feelings of depression and anxiety. Don’t think about who YOU are — think about WHOSE you are.

A little self-reflection to begin the new year is good. But don’t get stuck there. Refocus on God’s promises to you in Jesus to chase away your depression and anxiety and discover a reason to rejoice not only during the January doldrums but always. 

Written by Brent R. Bitter, Staff Minister

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YOU ARE INVITED!  Grace is hosting a presentation by a clinical counselor from Christian Family Solutions on January 17th at 6:15 PM entitled, “Addressing Anxiety and Depression in Children and Young Teens”. The principles that will be shared are certainly applicable to adults too. Come hear how to help yourself and others when depression and anxiety get the best of you. CLICK HERE to sign up.