Winter Doldrums

By Pastor Carolyn Jenkins

On our Sunday afternoon walk, we were bundled up head to toe against the cold wind blowing off the Potomac.  We trudged on clear trails, gratefully, as I noticed everything was brown.  Winter brown.  Chunks of frozen water were evident as we watched ducks looking for a meal in the murky waters.  And I thought, “Oh we need a little Christmas!  Right this very minute.  Candles in the window and carols at the Spinet.  Oh we need a little Christmas now!”  

That song came from a Broadway show years ago, but it hops into my mind as a relief from the winter doldrums.  In February, however, we have months before Christmas comes!  So here is a better idea to get a new attitude when the cold winds of life blow our way: it is hidden in Philippians 2:1-2:

Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

The word is encouragement, and this very word is used 29 times in the New Testament—sometimes God encourages us, sometimes we are commanded to encourage others.  In the middle of winter blahs, we each need a dose of encouragement for ourselves and a dose to share with others.  

The above passage suggests that if Christ has encouraged us with his salvation, his love; and if the Spirit has shown tenderness and compassion, then we ought to do the same to encourage those around us.  This doesn’t seem to be easy these days. Seems like we have taken complaining and griping to a new art form.  We have plenty of fodder for our grievances:  two years of pandemic, schedules turned upside-down, economic scares, crowds to be avoided, fewer activities…and we have used our words in unhealthy ways to demean and argue and fuss and demand our own way.  I don’t think that pleases God.  Reread the passage above.  Add to it Hebrews 13:3 which encourages us to encourage others day after day after day…

Church needs to be the encouraging place: sincerely say you are glad to see another; tell what you see God doing in your life; admit you are trying to stop complaining and look for ways to use your words to encourage others.  No fakeness here; don’t make it up.  Seriously look for ways to encourage others.

This week I have said kind words to a mom with several children; I wrote a note thanking a beautiful lady who prayed over a friend who needed encouragement; I sent an email with a prayer for a friend who is ill; I gave a can of coke to a co-worker who had shared with me when I needed a boost.  All together it took five minutes of my day.  So I am encouraging you to encourage some folks around you.  It is like a virus: encouragement encourages the discouraged to be encouragers.  Hop on this bandwagon to really make a difference this winter.

Extra Credit:  Remember the follower of Jesus whose name meant Encouragement? Be like him!




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