January is that month of the year when the sun shines brilliantly on the snow and the frigid air crackles with sounds of frosty foot treads. But it might just as easily come with cloudy grey and snowy blizzards, the snow piling up in a way that calls us to do something before it overwhelms. January is like the day after; the Christmas party is over and it’s time to get back to the reality of making a living. January offers the opportunity of a brand new year; but it also comes with its own sense of darkness since it has the shortest days, the longest nights, and the lights of Christmas no longer shine. January might easily be a mix of beauty and banality.
As I write today, it is the end of the second week of January. This month started out with lots of good things — memories of a great Christmas, new ideas and plans for the year, a new-born grand-son(!), and a genuine sense of faith and expectation for a year of much progress and blessing. But it hasn’t taken long for the reality of life to dull the edge of that optimism a bit. Within the course of one week, I have shared in two funerals and known of a third tragic loss right here in our own city. Besides lots of snow and cold weather, there have been personal disappointments too — a lack of development in ways expected and hoped for, a lack of progress in response and personal aspirations. Yet there have been some marvelous break-throughs — a sense of direction for immediate ministry, a great sense of victory in the midst of the funeral services in which I have participated, the experience of being loved by family and friends, and the chance to enjoy some down-hill skiing in the best conditions imaginable!
In January it’s easy to quickly lose heart because it doesn’t take long to get bogged down with the snowy cold and other disappointments of life — especially after the big build-up around Christmas and New Year’s Eve. It seems that depression is especially common during January for these reasons. All of this makes it a time to look deeper, further and higher for God’s grace which He promises to those who seek Him.
In the midst of the grey which I’ve experienced this month, it was heartening to be reminded today that, “He loves us with unfailing love” and that “the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever” (Psalm 117:2). In January, it is good to know that, “The Lord is for me” and because of that “I will not be afraid” (Psalm 118:6). Another great promise for January is Psalm 118:14, “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my victory.”
I was challenged yesterday by someone’s plan to fast while seeking God’s direction in a matter and so I determined that I would do that for a day as well. Since I began this exercise and this writing, God has shown me some direction already. Already, for me, January is starting to melt, starting to lose some of its frosty edge.