Depression in the Bible - Elijah
Despair to live, extreme exhaustion, loneliness and failure - not really phrases one would consider belonging to the great prophet Elijah, are they? Certainly, we can read Elijah's entire story in the Word of God and see that this is far from a true reflection of his life’s story. The problem is that this is how Elijah saw himself at one point in his life. Over the next several posts, I desire to show you the effects of depression as seen in some of our heroes from the Bible. Truly it is no secret that Elijah is my favorite character in the Old Testament, so I decided to start with him. I hope that you will grab your Bible and look at these great happenings with me. Let's look in 1 Kings and see this great person, Elijah, and how God helped him with depression.
Our narrative in the Bible begins with the rise of Ahab to the throne of the kingdom of Israel and his rearing of altars to Baal. God said of him in 1 Kings 16:33 that "Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him." With this great atrocity, God raises up Elijah in the next chapter (17) to stand against this wicked ruler. He begins by proclaiming God's judgment of a drought on the land. The book of James attributes this to his great prayer life (James 5:17,18). God miraculously feeds him during this time of lack, leading up to a great showdown at Mount Carmel with Jezebel the queen's prophets of Baal. God shows out in a mighty way and Elijah prays for rain to come again on the land. Through all this, we see a man that God is using in a mighty way. Then we get to chapter 19 and see that depression works its way into Elijah's life.
Jezebel is not happy and declares that she is going to kill our Bible hero. When Elijah heard this news, "...he arose, and went for his life..." (vs. 3) Next we see Elijah wishing to be alone, wishing that he would die, feeling that there was nothing left ("it is enough"), and comparing himself to others (vss. 3,4). All of these are things that we experience ourselves in times of depression. If not treated with the attention that it needs, any of us could break under the enormous pressure that life puts on us. Elijah was a success for God, God had his back. However, depression can strike anyone at any time. For Elijah, it came right after a highly visible victory, an impressive physical run (18:45,46), and a threat from a wicked woman. Elijah is down for the count, to borrow a boxing term. Many victims of depression get to this point and never recover. Let me say to you, God is not finished with you, just like He was not finished with Elijah. What He did for him, He will faithfully do for you! What did God do, you might ask?
Our perfect God provided for the entire need of Elijah's depressive episode. First, He addressed Elijah's physical need with rest, food and water. “And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.” (1 Kings 19:5-8) Elijah's body had exerted quite a bit of energy. He had depleted his physical reserve and God knew that he needed rest and nourishment. We too must not see depression as being "all in your head" as has typically been assumed by many over the years. There are physical needs that must be met. Never be afraid to consult a physician or nutritionist to help in this area of your depression. Treat your body right, then go on to the further issues that need to be addressed.
Next, we see God meet the mental needs of Elijah with a reassurance of Who God is in 1 Kings 19:11-13: “And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?” God personally met with Elijah, to show him that even when man is in distress, he has a God that cares. God then corrects his faulty thinking in 19:18, “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.” Elijah was not alone in his service to God. He only thought that he was. He did not know what God was doing in the lives of those around him, probably because he was so busy doing what God had called him to do that he did not see others around him. While depression doesn't just affect the mind, it would be foolish for us to think that the effect on the mind is not substantive. It was enough for God to address it with Elijah, so let us not live in denial of it ourselves. We are many times guilty of what I call "stinking thinking." I have counseled many people to allow God to direct their thinking in purposeful ways, following the leading of the Word of God in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Elijah thought that he was the only one serving God, God showed him different. Elijah thought that he needed to be alone, God commanded him to anoint Elisha who would be his minister (vs. 21). Elijah thought that his life had no further purpose, God gave him work to do (vss. 15-17).
That brings me to my final point of emphasis today, what does God have for you to do? Elijah's thinking was challenged by God and he obeyed the commands God gave him. This brought healing to Elijah, making him able to be productive for God's work once again. Elijah finishes his course with faith in the God Who met him at his deepest point of need. I pray that God has met you at your point of need through this great account in the Bible. God has a work for all of us to do, He has a purpose for your life. Get your physical needs met. Let Him challenge your thinking. Seek to do His work.
As always, continue the discussion. Comment here or on Facebook. Like and share. Help others with their fight by raising awareness. Furthermore, take a minute to reflect on Elijah in 1 Kings chapters 17-19 and learn from his life.
With all God's help,
Increasing Your Faith - Comfort Zone
There are many things young believers struggle with when it comes to increasing their faith. The subject that is going to be addressed in this Increasing Your Faith series is going to be the subject of taking steps out of your comfort zone. I believe this is an issue that each believer struggles with somewhere in their lives. Whether it be with their finances, helping out in the church, witnessing to coworkers, or just the struggles of every day. I truly believe that Christians will oftentimes struggle with issues they don't understand how they will be resolved. It is easy for us to begin to worry about an issue that is completely out of our hands.
Christians will allow emotions to get the best of them in tough issues then allow worry will to seep in. When we allow ourselves to worry, it boils down to a lack of faith in our God. The Bible in Philippians 4:6-7 states “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” The word careful here means to be anxious. Therefore, Paul is telling the people to worry for nothing but just seek God through prayer and He will give the peace that passes all understanding.
Believers, did you know that God still wants us not to be anxious about things but just depend on Him to give you the peace? Even through times that are uncomfortable for you, God will give you the peace. If you are struggling with finances, pray to God and give anyway. If you are going through financial difficulties, don't stop giving your offering. There is no faith in that. However, by giving and seeking the Lord, you will be given the peace that passes all understanding.
Perhaps as far as finances go, you have already decided to trust in God. Maybe the way you need to increase your faith in stepping out of your comfort zone is by being a Sunday school teacher/ helper. The Spirit has been working in your heart to do this but yet you are coming up with every excuse in the book to why you are not capable of doing it. Living life like that, you will never see God’s true power. Can you just imagine if God allow Moses’ excuses to stop him from doing His will? Moses was given a couple of signs that God was going to be with Him and that he was capable of doing wonderful things through him.
You are maybe thinking that if God gave you signs as he did for Moses than you would know that you could do something great. Well, that is not going to happen, but why can't the Word of God be enough for you? If the Holy Spirit is already speaking to you, shouldn't that be enough of a sign? The Bible says in II Corinthians 5:7 “For we walk by faith, not by sight:” God does not want us to walk by sight but to walk by faith. Stop waiting for God to write His will in the clouds for you. Sometimes you just need to listen to the His still small voice and allow that to lead you into action.
There are too many Christian believers on the sidelines when they should be standing in the gap. Often times, we will limit ourselves by our comfort zone. Whenever there is something that is a bit uncomfortable for us or we are unsure of success, we will typically shy away from opportunities that God is trying to use as an to help us grow. We lack faith; therefore, we will fail to seize the opportunity. We fail to recognize that this was a time we could have increased our faith. By forfeiting a time to minister because we are afraid to push and stretch our comfort zones, we then are giving a foothold for the devil. Each step towards Christ in an unfamiliar territory is a step of faith and true dependence on God. Allow the Holy Spirit to have complete reign in your life, in your finances, getting involved in your church, witnessing, and your business affairs.
A Post by Robert Reyes
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