Dr. Bill Tanzey • Associate Pastor of Community Ministries
The Darkness of Depression
1 Kings 19:1-18
Monday: Know that Depression Can Affect Anyone
I Kings 19:1-3
Elijah was a great prophet who accomplished mighty things for God. One of the greatest confrontations of all time of good versus evil had just occurred between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Elijah had called on God, and “the fire of the LORD fell” (18:38).
This man of God had demonstrated solitary courage in the face of evil. He was at the top; yet, that’s when the low came. Whe
n Queen Jezebel threatened to kill him, he ran for his life and lapsed into a deep depression. Life has its highs and lows, and like a mountain range, the low valleys may come right after the high peaks. After defeating the prophets of evil, Elijah now found himself low and depressed.
For Today: Read I Kings 19:1-18.
Tuesday: Know that Depression is Insidious and Draining
I Kings 19:4
Depression has a stealthy tactic of draining energy, twisting values, and assaulting faith. Now Elijah is in a dark period: glum and suicidal. He prayed to God to let him die. He lost his appetite, his thinking was disturbed, and he withdrew from everyone. He curled up under a tree, wanting to die.
If you, or someone you know, has ever been depressed, you will remember the same symptoms shown by Elijah: low self-esteem, low energy, feelings of hopelessness, and despair. Even this most courageous and spiritually mature believer was now in the grip of depression. He says to God, “Take my life!”
For Today: Pray for a bright countenance and joy from God.
Wednesday: Know that Depression is Not a Source of Shame
I Kings 19:5-8
God didn’t castigate Elijah; He showed mercy. It’s interesting to notice God’s prescription for Elijah’s severe depression: rest, food and drink, more rest, more food and drink. Depression causes a loss of appetite and a loss of rest. Rather than condemning Elijah, God treated him with what he needed.
This treatment was effective and fortifying. The prophet traveled in the strength of that food for 200 miles in forty days to Mount Horeb in Sinai. That is where God had given the Law to Moses. It’s as if God was taking Elijah back to his spiritual roots as a reminder of God’s sovereign control.
For Today: Read Proverbs 12:25 aloud, three times.
Thursday: Know that Depression’s Evil Twin is Loneliness
I Kings 19:9-10
Elijah was literally and mentally in a cave. He felt totally alone. (Have you ever felt the starkness of feeling alone?) He complained that despite being faithful, he was all alone and was convinced that all the children of Israel had rejected Jehovah. He said, in effect, that he was the only one who had remained true to God. This “woe is me” syndrome was running rampant with Elijah, who was now alone and isolated.
Depression and loneliness travel together. The depressed person, (and yes that can include Christ
ians), often seeks isolation. That is the where depression works its severest damage. In isolation, Elijah began to experience distorted thinking. He missed the fact that he was not the only faithful one left in Israel.
For Today: Write on a slip of paper, “God will never forsake me.”
Friday: Know that Depression is Not a Life Sentence
I Kings 19:11-18
God shows us the best principles for helping a person who is depressed:
- Encourage the person to physically care for himself/herself. There is a positive correlation between exercise (especially aerobic exercise) and reduction of depression.
- Encourage action, but keep it simple. Don’t give them more than they can handle at one time.
- Encourage the person to be goal-directed and then celebrate every accomplishment, however small.
- Gently address their distorted thinking.
Through all of this, Elijah learned that God would never forsake him. God shows loving concern and a way out.
For Today: Contact and encourage that one you know that is struggling right now.