Elijah walked a whole day into the wilderness. He stopped and sat down in the shade of a tree and wished he would die. “It's too much, LORD,” he prayed. “Take away my life; I might as well be dead!” …Suddenly the LORD spoke to him, “Elijah, what are you doing here?” He answered, “LORD God Almighty, I have always served you—you alone. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed all your prophets. I am the only one left—and they are trying to kill me!”(I Kings 19: 5, 9-10 GNB)
A. Questions and Answers from God’s Word on Depression
1. Have you ever been at the end of your rope, lost your will to go on, even prayed for God to take you? You’re in good company. Elijah, a great man of God, experienced all these things. Read about it in I Kings 19. James the Elder tells us in 5:17 that Elijah was a man just like us. 2. What causes depression? Elijah ‘s story tells us much about this.
a) Emotional, physical and spiritual exhaustion. Elijah had faced a highly stressful situation. Although he had achieved a great victory for the God of Israel on Mt. Carmel, afterwards he had what we often face after a stressful, even successful time: an emotional letdown. Let’s keep our letdowns from becoming breakdowns.
b) He focused on His feelings. Self-absorption is an emotional and spiritual trap. Don’t let the devil play ping pong with your emotions.
c) He judged and blamed himself. Self-condemnation, shame and guilt are among the enemy’s biggest weapons to defeat us. There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Shame is Satan’s weapon, not God’s.
d) He compared himself with others. Identify with others, never compare.
e) He magnified the negatives and minimized the positives: “I am the only one left and now they’re trying to kill me too.” That wasn’t true at all. One person – Jezebel, was against him
f) He indulged in self-pity. No one wants to attend our pity parties.
B. Here are some practical things to do to avoid depression’s downward spiral.
1. Focus on God’s reality, not our perceptions, which are often skewed.
a) What brought Elijah out of his funk? He finally listened to God, not his perceptions.
b) He listened to the Word of the Lord, prayed, heard from God and was obedient.
c) Does this make sense as a course of action when depressive thoughts enter our
mind? Consider this word: “Are you anxious (or depressed), ask God for help and don’t forget: thank and praise Him. (Phil 4: 6, our paraphrase).
• First Ask God for Help. Turn your problem and pain over to Him completely.
• Next thank Him, for the good AND if you want your faith and mental health to deepen, thank him also for the challenges you are facing. God allows these negatives in our lives to strengthen us. “In all things give thanks for this is the will of God concerning you.
2. Repeat aloud the written word, Scriptures. After my Stage 4 cancer diagnosis, I experienced great victory over depression by taking long walks and repeating aloud these affirmations of faith from the Bible.
<“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”>
<“I am more than a conqueror through Christ who loves me.”>
<“Nothing can separate me from the love of God.”>
<“I will never leave you or forsake you.”>
3. Personalize these affirmations. Say them aloud to Jesus. For example:
<“I know you have not left me and will never leave me nor forsake me.”>
4. Be kind to yourself. Don’t listen to the negative tapes and lie in your head.
God doesn’t make any junk. You are special to Him and of great worth.
5. Get outside and outside of yourself. Avoid isolating. Spend time with Christian friends
6. Do something you enjoy. Recreation is a God word. Re-create your energy and renew your spirit by doing fun things.
7. Love others through random acts of kindness. “Serve one another as Christ has served you.”