Written by Jolene DeHeer
In January of 1985 I moved from San Diego, CA to Grand Rapids, MI. People warned me that 75-80 degree daily temperatures and constant sunshine would be replaced by grey, sunless, cold winter months which could give birth to a malady called the winter blues. So, I made up my mind to not let that happen. I decided to take my cues from scripture to find practices that would help me stay focused on the mercies and goodness of Christ and find victory over the winter blues.
First practice: doing acts of kindness.
Being kind is a physical expression of God’s love. Colossians 3:12 reminds us that “as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” So, as God’s chosen ones let’s cloth ourselves with kindness and share His love by writing notes of encouragement, serving others, helping someone in need, going the extra mile. Consider opportunities to do anonymous acts of kindness: send someone flowers with the note, “Love, Jesus,” or leave a post-it note on a co-workers desk saying, “You are amazing!” You get the idea. Let God’s love flow through you and you will discover a joy that dispels the grey clouds of winter.
Second practice: choose to praise God.
This may be difficult because of current circumstances, but with the Spirit’s help, you can find reasons to praise God. I am encouraged by the words of Psalm 22:3 (KJV) which says, “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel” or “…enthroned on the praises of Israel (NIV). I love the image of God being present in the praises of His people. When sadness and loneliness try to overwhelm you, draw near to the grace, mercy, hope, and joy of God being in God’s presence and start praising. You are in the presence of the Enthroned One. If you can’t figure out what to praise Him for, simply start with His characteristics and let the Spirit lead the way for continued praises. When you make this choice to draw near to God, you will discover your faith is increasing and that leads to more praise…and more faith…and more praise…
Third practice: laugh often.
Laughter is truly a gift from God. Think about this: we are the only one of God’s creatures that is made in His image. We are the only ones with a sense of humor and an ability to laugh at ourselves and the world. So, I conclude when we laugh, we are reflecting part of God’s image in us. I have discovered that people who laugh easily also have the gift of humility. We need to humbly admit we are funny creatures and we do silly things. Instead of hiding it, lets celebrate it, share it, and laugh together. Ask God to surround you with people who laugh easily and help you laugh. In addition, during the long winter nights, check out some good Christian comedians like Tim Hawkins or other old TV shows on YouTube that will help you laugh. Jesus wants us to have joy that bursts forth into laughter. He says in John 15:11, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” His joy is so much deeper and richer than laughter, but a good laugh is a sure sign of joy.
Fourth practice: care casting.
When the world is grey, the nights are long, and the weather is nasty, it is easy to focus on all that is worrying you and causing anxiety. During those times we need to listen to the beautiful words of 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” It takes great trust to cast your cares, but we can do it confidently with the assurance that HE CARES FOR US! He cares about that broken relationship, those words of apology you never heard, the need for financial security, the report you received from the doctor, your wayward child, a job that gives you satisfaction, the loneliness you deal with… whatever is your burden, He cares! And he is able to handle it and give you the peace you long for.
Fifth practice: Practice presence of God
– Oh how I love drawing near to the heart to God by talking to Him in prayer and listening to Him in scripture. The long winter evenings are a perfect opportunity to take advantage of the extra time to slow down and prioritize making space for God. He assures us with this beautiful promise in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Perhaps you can sign up for one of the many on-line devotionals to increase your time with Him or try new contemplative prayer practices. One such practice that has been a true life-changer in my life is the Prayer of Examen. Each night I ask myself three question 1) How did I experience God’s grace today? And I thank Him. 2) Where did I see God today? And I praise Him. 3) What do I wish I had done differently? And I confess. Knowing I will be doing that at night, I am increasingly conscious of His presence in my life all day long. Knowing He is always there fills my heart with hope – hope that winter will end of course, but more importantly, hope of eternity.
My prayer as that these practices will help you to beat the winter blues and live victoriously with ever increasing love, faith, joy, peace, and hope.