Reflecting on “Blue Monday”, The Chinese New Year and Declaring Today To Be “Hope Monday”

Two weeks ago, Monday was called, “Blue Monday”. When I heard that, I found it to be a bit offensive since it was Martin Luther King Day as well. But “Blue Monday” is described as the most depressing day of the year. The term is attributed to the the third Monday of the year. The credit card bills have come in, the resolutions have already been dismissed and the new year has well, lost its newness. Sadly, this day also contains stories of actions brought by depression, attempted suicides, drug abuse, violence and more. I thought it was appropriate that our church began it’s new year of Celebrate Recovery on “Blue Monday” and created a post-year resolution to pray for that ministry every Monday.

Then this past Monday, was the Chinese New Year. For those that don’t know, it’s the Year of the Dragon – which quite frankly sounds awesome. It also sounds a bit crazy but since seeing How To Train Your Dragon, I’m no longer scared of these creatures and should I encounter one, I’ll use the same techniques demonstrated in the movie. This would also be a tremendous aid in providing flights for the family, so I’m all for the Year of the Dragon. But I digress.

We have a Mandarin-speaking LIFE Community that meet at the church on a night where I am there so every so often, I like to drop-in. This week I knocked, they welcomed me, as they always do. I wished them a “Happy New Year”, they thanked me and I tried to make a joke about what do they drop to mark the new year. Crickets. I asked what was the significance of the Dragon and they laughed at that (Crickets in my mind yelling, “Clarify – it’s really a question.”). I eventually got some answers, the primary one begin it’s the “lucky year” and left the room wondering if it would be a good idea for Americans to do something similar. I mean we mark so many of our days, why not our years?

Later an older Chinese gentlemen at a coffee shop struck up a conversation with me about my mug (It’s pretty awesome, it’s made of porcelain and has a lid). I asked him where he got his iPad case, he said, “China.” I wished him a happy New Year – “I hear it’s the year of the dragon, what does that mean by the way?”

Between the two conversations I heard various thoughts. The dragon of course, is the Chinese national symbol. One person said some people want their babies born this year because it’s special. Another said, it’s just like any other year, really. These things are just part of the culture.

I couldn’t help but wonder if even on this luckiest of years, if I was a member of the Chinese population, would I really think it’s a lucky year? As a member of this population, I do and don’t really believe in “luck”. I think the human experience is based on probabilities, anomalies and divine providence that are true but mysterious and completely unpredictable. This helps me process the reality of tragedy, blessing and everything in between.

I thought about those who experience countless “Blue Mondays” throughout the year. I thought about the families in the Chinese population that are forced to give up/abort their babies because of the One Child Act. I thought of those trying to bring help, peace and hope like Celebrate Recovery and All Girls Allowed (I posted about earlier about them here).

Hope in the midst of pain.

I just finished co-teaching a class on the Psalms and among the gift of teaching is relearning and newly learning material that though you may not use in the next class, they help nurture your soul. Among the blessings, is that the reminder that many of the Psalms of praise to God were written in great distress.

I think of Psalm 31:24 “Be strong and courageous, all of you who put your hope in the Lord.”

Among my prayers today is that all would find the hope that God offers through Jesus. It’s not a “fingers-crossed”, “tails never fails” sorta thing. I believe hope is a type of confidence in the divine and I believe it’s found in the Lord’s presence. And among my prayers is that those who seek shall find.

May today be “Hope Monday” and may our year be filled by them.

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