I’ve been there. You’ve probably been there. Most adults and far too many children and teenagers have been there, too.
Languishing in the wilderness of depression.
When I talk about depression, I’m acknowledging there are several kinds of depression. Depression can have biological and chemical causes. When this is the case, it’s extremely important to avoid spiritualizing depression as a lack of faith or prayer.
Depression isn’t a sin. It’s a state. It’s a condition and many, many people who have a close walk with God struggle with it.
Depression can also be the result of unusually hard circumstances or trauma. In either case, it’s not a sin. It’s a struggle.
Elijah, one of God’s great heroes of the Bible, suffered from depression and his story is one of the most powerful in history for guiding us through the long, dark valleys of life.
The backstory on Elijah:
· Chosen to be THE leading prophet of Israel.
· Was hidden and fed by God for three years at Cherith.
· Had a major victory over the 850 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel.
It’s worth noting that sometimes depression hits us hardest right after a season of great victory.
TRUTH: Depression doesn’t have to be the end of us. God wants to walk through depression with us and bring us to a place of renewal and fresh, new growth.
HOW WE SOMETIMES MAKE OUR DEPRESSION WORSE
1. We amplify our problems. (1 Kings 19:1-2)
When we’re depressed, little deals become big deals.
2. We focus on our feelings. (1 Kings 19:3)
3. We isolate ourselves from others. (1 Kings 19:4a)
4. We compare ourselves to others. (1 Kings 19:4b)
Because of social networking, which can be a great tool, we often compare our behind-the-scenes bloopers to the highlight reels of others.
5. We take the blame for everything. (1 Kings 19:10a)
6. We believe lies and wear false labels. (1 Kings 19:10b)
GOD’S DIRECTION FOR PEOPLE IN DEPRESSION
1. Take care of your physical needs. (1 Kings 19:5-9)
- Sleep MORE
- GET UP
- Eat MORE and BETTER
- Drink WATER
And, again, addressing the physical means addressing possible chemical issues in our brain. Talk to your doctor and/or a good therapist.
2. Talk to God about your problems. (1 Kings 19:9b)
Prayer is the only entry way into genuine self-knowledge. It is also the main way we experience deep change—the reordering of our loves. Prayer is how God gives us so many of the unimaginable things he has for us. Indeed, prayer makes it safe for God to give us many of the things we most desire. It is the way we know God, the way we finally treat God AS God. Prayer is simply the key to everything we need to do and be in life. We must learn to pray. We have to.
– Tim Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God
3. Seek a fresh word from God. (1 Kings 19:11-13)
STOP waiting for the sensational experience and start listening to the gentle whisper of God.
4. Get back to God’s purposes.
God’s final instruction was for Elijah to get up and get back to his purpose.