/ Depression / Joel Hart

Recovering from the Most Depressing Day of the Year

Congratulations! If you are reading this, you have survived another Blue Monday, the proverbial “Most Depressing Day of the Year”.

The 3rd Monday of January brings, per the “Blue Monday Formula”, a perfect storm of bad weather, debt, time since Christmas, time since failed New Year’s resolutions, and low motivation levels. The supposed outcome of this storm is an unleashing of apathy, sorrow, and despair on any in the storm's path.

Now, the formula itself may be a bit dubious. But unfortunately, Blue Monday highlights the truly blue experience, for many, of winter days – an experience that carries on well past its yearly “celebration”. At this time of year, workloads increase, vacations are rare, teachers dare to hand out mid-terms, the sun rarely shines, tax day is coming, and not a holiday is in sight until Memorial Day.

So, how do Christians recover, survive, and pursue the light in a time of year that is indeed drab, dreary, and blue?

One verse comes to mind to answer this question: Proverbs 4:18. On either side of Proverbs 4:18 are blue realities of sin (see Prov. 4:15-17, 19). In the midst of the darkness, though, Proverbs 4:18 shines: “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.”

What a promise! A path like the light of dawn, an ever-brightening path. And, yes, it seems this path shines on the bluest of Mondays, Tuesday, Wednesdays, etc.

But how? How does our path grow ever brighter when the days seem so blue? A few thoughts come to mind:

Our Path is a Brightening Cross-Path

The book of the brightening path (Proverbs) presents no glib view of Christian experience. Yes, the LORD will make straight our paths (Prov. 3:6), but they are also paths of discipline and reproof (Prov. 3:11). In Hebrews 12:5-6, we discover that discipline and reproof describe the path of the believer who is considering the Christ of the cross (Heb. 12:1-3).

In other words, the brightening path of the righteous in Proverbs 4:18 is nothing less than that path of discipline that Christ Himself walked to the cross.

These days, for many, are blue because of true crosses being born. Financial burdens, post-holiday loneliness, or winter ailments are cross-experiences in this fallen world. From such sorrows, the call of the cross presses in as we face temptations to unbelief, despair, or immorality to relieve our blue burdens.

But in this path of the cross, the believer’s path brightens. Here, we fellowship with the man of sorrows who was acquainted with grief (Isa. 53:3). His path to the cross shone and shines in the darkness (John 1:5). As we commune with Him, our paths too will shine more clearly.

Our Path is a Brightening Sanctifying Path

Sometimes the late winter days are blue because, without the cover of holiday cheer or spring fever or summer fun, the darkness of a sinful world seems more prominent. A simple glance at the news headlines might confirm this observation. Perhaps a glance at our own lives would suggest the same.

But the light of the living God in the heart of the Christian needs no calendar. We may need a cheery weather forecast to go to the beach or a Spring Break to forget about midterms. But God is light, and we may (must!) seek to grow in reflecting Jesus on the bluest of days.

Quite practically, January and February can be times of great growth in Christ. Think about it: the "blue" of these days stems partly from fewer vacations, fewer holidays, and fewer nights out at the ballpark or the restaurant. So what can we fill the time with? Many things, but one stands out: actively seeking to grow in walking as children of light (Eph. 5:8-9).

So seek Him! This week, if you have little going on to excite you from the world’s perspective, meet a friend for prayer – even prayer about your blues. As you are able, visit a midweek Bible study and study a passage or topic you haven’t considered. Ask God to fill you with the fruits of the Spirit around your family and friends and then encourage them as they are weighed down. In this growth, your path of reflecting Jesus will grow brighter.

Our Path is a Brightening Heavenly Path

Finally, our path on blue winter days grows brighter as heaven grows nearer. Proverbs teaches about a path to the land of our inheritance, the land of our God (see Prov. 2:20-21). In Scripture, the land of dwelling with God is bright, with the Lamb as the lamp (cf. Matt. 13:43, Rev. 21:23).

The days may be blue and thorns may fill our path. But as long as we are those walking toward the land, our arrival grows nearer – and its light more shines our way. Your way may be dark, but today, if you know Christ, His coming to bring you to the bright land is nearer than it was yesterday morning. That’s worth celebrating!

In contemplating heaven’s growing nearness, our blue days brighten. In this, we become more like Christ who longed for the glory of heaven (John 17:5). And in this Christ-formation in us, we realize more clearly that we are already raised in the bright heavenly places (Eph. 2:5).

So today, whatever your joys, whatever your blues, may you see your path growing brighter and brighter until the full day of Jesus Christ.

Joel Hart

Joel Hart

Associate pastor at Second RPC (Indianapolis). Husband of Orlena. Father of 4 (David, Jenny, Elisha, Esther). Proclaiming the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

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