1. Take a moment to pause and reflect … about the blues. Perhaps you have heard of “Blue Monday” which happened back on January 6. According to a British sort-of study that’s the most depressing day of the year. Christmas is over, regular workdays are starting again and there’s nothing to look forward to. Another media outlet, by the way, says the big day for the blues is the Monday after Martin Luther King day, which was January 27 this year. That’s about the time the credit card bills for holidays shopping come in the mail.
Personally, I don’t know why we pick on Mondays or on January. We can feel blue anytime. Yes, the snow and the cold are hard on us and can contribute. But there is also the depression of finding that spring and summer still contain the same problems we faced in winter.
This week, let’s talk about the blues during these devotionals. I’ve almost used my whole one minute for today, so let me give you one quick thought which might help. Feeling blue is normal. Everyone has the blues sometime. So don’t make it worse by beating up on yourself because you think it only happened to you. As the Bible says, “The rain (or the snow) falls on the just and the unjust alike.” Everyone.
Let’s pray: “Gracious God, thank-you for being with us when we are blue and when we are bursting with excitement. Whatever the day may bring, Lord, lead, guide and strengthen us. In your name. Amen.”
2. Take a moment to pause and reflect … on winter blues.
Let’s see, someone is feeling blue, down and depressed. It seems that you get up and have coffee just like always, but the feeling remains. You watch the same programs on TV and sit in the same chair as before but the blueness doesn’t go away.
Hmmm. One suggestion. Try something different. I’m not suggesting change for change sake, but try moving around instead of sitting. Some folks call that exercise and doctors have been known to suggest it makes a difference for winter, or any other kind of blues.
Instead of watching the same programs as before, try something different. I don’t mean just change the channel. Go out to a movie, and not alone. Call a friend and ask how they are doing. Read a book. But something new and engaging.
You heard about the farmer who said he could never visit his neighbors, “because the ruts in the road only lead me back home.” Yes, I’m thinking of the old cliché, “Get out of the rut.” There’s nothing magical about this, but something different and positive can’t hurt. And, by calling a friend for example, even if you don’t help yourself you might help someone else.
Jesus says in the Bible that a person should never put new wine in old wineskins. They will be stiff and break. Put new wine in new wineskins. In terms of the blues, put your hope for a new attitude, perspective and life in a new wineskin – a new and flexible way of doing things.
Let us pray. “Thank-you God for walking with me during difficult things. Help us to find ways to return joy to our hearts. Amen.”
3. Take a moment to pause and reflect … about the blues. We all feel blue sometimes, there’s nothing wrong with that. But what can we do about it? The psalmist has an idea.
In Psalm 42 we read these words: “Why are you so downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?” The writer is talking to himself. But even more curious, he is asking himself questions.
Actually that’s a good place to start as we deal with the blues. What is really making us blue? Perhaps we’d say it is because we are grieving a loved one. Yes, but what about the loved one is on your mind? Maybe we’d say, “I just miss having coffee with him/her each morning.” If we know what triggers the blue feeling we can understand it and make some plans. Maybe at coffee time in the morning, we have a picture album to do some remembering. Maybe that’s a good time to call a good friend or write a note to a grandson.
I don’t have a prescription, but the Psalmist knew and I know that we can better deal with problems, stresses or the blues if we know what they are.
So, talk to yourself – “Soul, why are you down today? What’s really on the mind?”
And, then, as the Psalmist did, take it to prayer. The Psalmist said, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him.” Let us pray.
Gracious God, you do know us better than we know ourselves. Help us to see what’s going on in our spirit. And, once we know, help us to give it to you. Amen.
4. Take a moment to pause and reflect … about the blues. On Monday we learned the blues are normal. On Tuesday, we thought about doing something different. Wednesday, we learned to talk to our spirit to see what is actually going on in our life. Today, I’d like to suggest that the blues are a good thing.
Wait, you might protest, I don’t want to be depressed. Don’t get me wrong. Chronic, long-term depression is one thing and it should be treated. Occasional or even fairly frequent feelings of blues can be positive.
I thought of this during Christmas when I shared at more-than-one “Blue Christmas” service. When we were gathered remembering and grieving loved ones, supporting and caring about one another and asking God for help, what was the rest of the world doing? Madly running about trying to fill their wishes for a Merry Christmas by spending much and hurrying here and there. Which one is better? Which one will give you more satisfaction?
You see, when we are blue, we slow down, focus (or CAN focus) on important things and have an opportunity to think through our priorities. And any blue “tears” we shed might be followed by a genuine smile at the good things in our life which we can think about during our blues.
Psalm 46 starts by talking about “trouble” in the first verse but ends with the familiar “Be Still and know I am God.” When I’m blue, I’m more likely to be still and more likely to find lasting joy in the God I serve.
“Gracious God, use the times I slow down and feel blue to help me grow and find real peace in you. Amen.
5. Take a moment to pause and reflect … about the blues. I heard, one time, about an experiment done with a Northern Pike. A Northern is a very aggressive fish and it loves to eat. The experiment put a Northern on one side of a large aquarium and a smaller fish, perhaps a perch on the other. A clear glass window was in between. The Northern, of course, attacked but slammed into the glass instead of getting its jaws on the perch. This happened several times until the Northern got the message – the perch is unavailable. And the Northern stopped trying.
After a bit the experimenters withdrew the separating glass. The perch was very available and the two eventually swam right next to each other. But the message was still with the Northern – it’s not available.
I wonder if that doesn’t happen to us. For whatever reason we are blue and it lasts long enough that we begin to wonder if we can ever again be happy … or laugh … or be joyful.
Back to our friend, the Northern. I wonder – could he ever eat again? Did he just give us and starve?
Hey, let’s not give up. There is joy to be had and a smile can again be felt. Don’t give into the idea, “Hey I can never be happy again.” That’s what we call a self-fulfilling prophecy.
King David writes in Psalm 30, “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.” Yes, it’s possible.
“Gracious God, we get dis-encouraged so easily. Help us to see all the good things which are still possible for us, we ask in your name, Amen.”