It happens to all of us. We get down. The gloom can arrive for all sorts of reasons. Perhaps a project that hasn’t worked out or someone’s giving you a hard time. Maybe it’s the continued grind of life online (whether it’s work, or the kids’ school, or church) or the uncertainty of when life will get back to normal.
So, what can we do? Let me suggest three things that may help.
First, be alert. When you feel down you can sometimes cling to sin. You can nurture anger at people, isolate yourself, or find comfort in ungodly habits. Christians are encouraged to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles (Heb. 12:1). When you start feeling down, recognise those areas where you tend to find a false refuge and avoid them.
Second, be intentional. When we feel unwell and go to the doctor, the doctor will often ask certain diagnostic questions: ‘How are you eat? How are you sleeping? Are you getting exercise?’. The doctor will then remind you to pursue healthy habits. When you feel down, you’ve got to remind yourself to be intentional about keeping healthy habits. At the most basic level, that means keeping up your spiritual habits of bible reading, prayer, and Christian community.
But there may be other things that you need to do. When you feel the lure of a bad habit, flee towards something that is good. Get out for a walk to clear your head and pray. Give yourself rewards in your day that you can look forward to and enjoy. Call a friend and unburden yourself. Recognise the point where you need to reach out and get extra help from others.
Third, look to God’s grace. This might seem quite obvious, but we don’t default to this. Instead of looking to all that we have in Jesus, we normally look to our circumstances. The psalmist knew the value of reminding himself to look to God, ‘Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God’ (Psalm 42:5).
In Jesus, we have ample resources for hope and perseverance. We have someone who has endured everything for us, so ‘let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross’ (Heb. 12:1-2).