January is traditionally designated as the most depressing month of the year by psychologists, who cite cold weather, credit card bills, and a post-holiday emotional swoon as reasons you should just consider staying in bed.
In fact, January 18, 2010, was designated “the Gloomiest Day of the Year.”
So, how do you beat the blues in the dead of winter? One way we recommend is by getting a Bible study going with a group of your friends.
On the second Sunday night in January, I had 34 people rather cozily jammed into my home (22 adults in the living room, 12 kids upstairs.) A 20-something married couple who had separated during the fall came early and told me they were getting back together. We had a blast discussing the centrality of Christ from Colossians. Not surprisingly, I bounced out of bed on Monday morning, ready to go to work. It was eight degrees outside, so my energy probably wasn’t from the weather.
The following Sunday night attendance was down by just a few friends, but again, I loved hearing people talk about their experience with the nature of God, discuss the names of God and recall stories of His methods of providing for the people in our group. Great night, and again, I bounced out of bed Monday morning, even though I was working on a holiday.
What is it about a community of friends studying the Bible together that pushes up your endorphins and helps you beat off depression? I can think of three key things.
When you study the Bible and hear God’s words of His love of and plans for you, you can’t help but be encouraged. It’s one of the main reasons He gave us His Word.
“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints because of the hope reserved for you in heaven. You have already heard about this hope in the message of truth, the gospel that has come to you. It is bearing fruit and growing all over the world, just as it has among you since the day you heard it and recognized God’s grace in the truth.” -Colossians 1:3-6
One of the enemy’s favorite tactics to discourage us is to focus us entirely on tough, but temporary, circumstances. A Bible study community combats that lie by having its members give testimony of God’s faithfulness for the long haul. Someone in an economically tight spot can be encouraged by hearing the story of another believer who found a new job at exactly the right time or someone who was delivered by the generosity of a believer. The truth is, God always delivers in the lives of His people. He may not deliver in the way we would like or request, but He always delivers in a way that ultimately shows His power, wisdom, and care for us.
“All the LORD’s ways show faithful love and truth to those who keep His covenant and decrees.” -Psalm 25:10
On a regular basis, I hear of how believers from our group come through for each other. Sometimes it’s with an encouraging phone call at the right time. Other times it’s by committing to pray daily for a tough issue. Or maybe a group member shows a very tangible display of concern that amounts to rescuing someone else from a tough circumstance. All of these expressions of love grow out of our weekly Bible study time together.
“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” -Philippians 2:1-4
So, if you’re a leader, start a new Bible study this winter. If you’re a believer who is a bit isolated and depressed, find a study and join in. It’s a proven way to beat the blues.