Waking up is easy, getting out of bed is another story. One in ten Americans is struggling with depression. The emotional symptoms weigh them down like a lead blanket – sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless. There are physical symptoms too. The Bible doesn’t shy away from dark emotions. Moses, David, Job, Jeremiah and others faced depression. Their journeys are recorded for us in scripture. This week we look to the story of Elijah as model for overcoming depression.
Elijah was a prophet. He had just won an epic battle. But the mountaintop experience was followed immediately by a fight for his life. He was afraid, exhausted, tapped out emotionally and depressed.
He (Elijah) came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 1Kings 19:4
God walked right in to Elijah’s darkness. Through his wilderness experience we find four keys for overcoming depression.
Take Care of Your Body
Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. 1 Kings 19:5-6
Eat healthy food. Drink plenty of water. Be disciplined about establishing sleep patterns. Get up and get some exercise. Take care of yourself. Your physical health affects your mental health.
Talk About Your Problems
He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” 1 Kings 19:10
You can talk to God about your problems. It’s not too much for him. Find a few trusted friends to talk to. Visit with a professional counselor. Call the church if you need a referral to a counseling center in the Austin area. If you are struggling with hurts, habits and hang ups that are taking an emotional toll, consider joining our Celebrate Recovery groups.
Get a Fresh View of God
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper 1 Kings 19:11-12
When we feel depressed, we lose perspective. We feel isolated and alone. We forget that God is near to the brokenhearted. (Psalm 34:18) Elijah experienced God’s presence and came to see him in a fresh new way. Pray. Worship. Come to church and soak in God’s presence.
Do Something For Others
The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 1 Kings 19:15
God gave Elijah an assignment. “Go back the way you came.” Do something for someone else. This is not go back to your old ways of coping but go back and reach out to someone else. It’s no surprise God uses the stories of our lives that lead to depression to bring freedom and hope to others. This is redemption. It’s what God does.