Articles and thoughts by Steve Green.
According to Welsh psychologist Cliff Arnall, January 22 is the most depressing day of the year. He attributes this to several factors.
Short days and wintry grey skies eventually take their toll and make our outlook bleak. As Christmas bills begin to pile up, the blues set in. Three weeks into New Year resolutions, we tend to fall back into the same old patterns and failed attempts to change lead to the doldrums. Kids are back in school and the grinding routine of life and work seems to squelch whatever holiday cheer was left. If you weren’t depressed, his analysis just might do it!
Maybe you have escaped Arnall’s prediction and are doing just fine. The reality is, however, that at one point or another we will all be hit with the hard stuff of life that can knock the wind out of us and leave us feeling quite emotionally depleted. Whether it happens on January 22 or some other day of the year, we need to have a plan. It will require more than a temporary distraction, more than positive thinking, more than trying to just paste a smile on our faces.
In his book “Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cure”, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones gives some wise instruction from Psalm 42. He writes, “Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc.
Somebody is talking. Who is talking? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment was this; instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. ‘Why art thou cast down, O my soul?’ he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says: ‘Self, listen for a moment, I will speak to you.’…
The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: ‘Why art thou cast down’– what business have you to be disquieted?
You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, reprove yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: ‘Hope thou in God’– instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. (That is, constantly preach the gospel to yourself!)
Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: ‘I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.’”
There’s real hope for the January 22nds in our lives.
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