That’s always a good question. Where is the problem coming from? I’d like to fault the winter and the sub-zero temperatures. All that bleak, gray-purple snow. I knew it. Ohio is to blame. Maybe it was the excess of money spent over the holidays. And speaking of the holidays—they’re gone, too. At least the kind that come with down-time, sweets, and sleeping in. I’m back to the grind. Yes, that’s the problem.
Or not. The truth is, it’s complicated.
Every human being is a unity of three connected regions—body, soul, and spirit (1 Thes. 5:23). If one of those areas gets out of kilter, the others will be affected.
- For instance, your “blues” might just come from your body having some issues. You possibly need more rest. Lay off the caffeine for a while. Stop the binge watching on Netflix and go to bed on time for a change. Lose some weight. Start exercising. Occasionally for some of us, we’re short of serotonin. Could be time for some medical help.
- And don’t forget the power of emotional/psychological factors that can bring on a subtle case of the blues. That’s when I dwell on crippling thoughts. I rehearse painful moments in agonizing detail. It’s something that happened. Or might happen. Or might not happen. And especially what is happening. Whatever the case, my mind keeps going there and digging up the whole garden looking for a bone. As a solution, mindset becomes a key issue here, as well as taming a runaway imagination. Healthy and productive focus goes a long way.
- Sometimes a slide into the pit comes from spiritual causes. Christians often lack regular, healthy devotional habits. We pray only during health scares and other crises. Don’t wait to “want” God. Deliberately cultivate an appetite for Him by regularly reading Scripture. Bring some healthy friends into your life—other believers—and quit sopping up the toxins of worldly acquaintances. As Paul said, “flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” (2 Tim. 2:22). Edify your spirit.
In light of all these possibilities, you can see why the Christian view of deliverance can tend to oversimplify things. I read about a Christian man who couldn’t stop treating women like eye candy. He constantly felt over-stimulated. His Christian buddies diagnosed him as having a demon of lust. They agreed to get together and perform a deliverance for him.
After an hour of sweat-drenched prayer and claiming and declaring victory, the man felt freed from his lust. He and his buddies celebrated by going out to a restaurant for cheeseburgers. Then the waitress came to their table dressed in a tight black skirt. Instantly, the “delivered” guy started drooling and locked onto her like a tractor beam.
Not everything is simple. For the most part, we have to sort through feelings and matters, dealing with them daily. In context of “this day,” Jesus told us to pray for deliverance from evil (Matt. 6:11-13) like we had to pray yesterday and will have to pray tomorrow. It’s an ongoing prayer.
Yes, relief may suddenly come through a miracle—“What do you want?” Jesus asked a blind man. “My sight!” the man said, and he got it on the spot (Mark 10:51). But just as often, help only appears through a long process, like for Paul who repeatedly prayed about his painful thorn and to whom the Lord replied, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor. 12:8-9). In that case, the apostle received no promises of “how” or “when.”
To date, I haven’t received any help from that blind man who was healed in an instant. I only know his name—Bartimaeus. As for Paul, though, I’ve been deeply helped by his experience of “slow cooking.” In fact, millions of us have been edified by the daily grace that filled his writings and his works.
Much as I hate to admit it, good things take time.
Deep winter blues can bring deep winter grace.