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Summary: To help people understand a Christian perpective of depression and how we can help others

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INTRODUCTION

Following death of his wife, a well-known Southern Baptist preacher named Vance Havner published a diary of his experiences as he walked through the ’valley of the shadow of death’. He writes about 3 levels of experience in life and concluded that there are ’mountain top days’ when everything is going well and the world looks bright. But it is unreasonable to expect, as many people do - that we can spend life leaping from one mountaintop to another as if there were no plains or valleys in between. ’Ordinary days’, therefore are those when we work at our usual tasks, neither elated nor depressed. Then thirdly, there are the ’dark days’ when we trudge heavily through discouragement despair, doubt and confusion. Sometimes these days string out into weeks, months & years before we begin to experience a sense of relief. When they persist, these dark days are days of depression.

Series ‘Just about Coping’ Today ‘Coping with depression’

Very few people who haven’t experienced depression in some form - different levels, varying in depth, intensity and duration. Spectrum ranges from sadness (feeling low/blue) discouragement - depression - total despair (self-destructive attitude). If you’ve never had a discouraging day or a period of feeling sad then PTL – use by God to help others.

Depn recognised >2,000 yrs - Hippocrates - 400BC

Widespread & complicated problem - affecting C & non-C

Can’t always tell from looking at people - brave face.

d man goes to Dr.. No advice/medn seems to relieve intense despair. Last resort Dr suggests circus where world famous clown well known for making most desolate people laugh. Man looks up slowly at Dr and says ’Doctor, I am that clown!’

Depression = State of morbidly excessive melancholy, mood of hopelessness & feelings of inadequacy, often with physical symptoms.

DEPRESSION IS NO RESPECTOR OF PERSONS OR AGE

Buzz Aldrin (2nd on moon) returned to earth - great difficulty coping with life - severe depn. - mentioned in Mary Irwin’s book ’The moon is not enough’.

Winston Churchill suffered from depn. - says it hounded him like a black dog. Charles Spurgeon, known for his sparkling wit and humour, had a lifetime battle with depn.

William Cowper - ’O for a closer walk ....’

Mrs Thatcher apparently became quite depressed and disorientated after losing the premiership. A 4 year old girl has been diagnosed recently as suffering from depression. Former government spin doctor Alastair Campbell has revealed in candid detail his battle with depression while at Number 10. Stephen Fry – chronicled his experiences of manic depression.

It can be a relief to know you are not alone.

SOME SIGNS OF DEPRESSION

Inertia – inability to get going or make decisions, loss of energy, fatigue, insomnia, feelings of pessimism, hopelessness, worthlessness - loss of interest in usual activities, inability to enjoy even pleasurable events

SOME CAUSES OF DEPRESSION

Depression is a complex condition and the causes can be many and varied :-

Physical - chemical imbalance, lack of sleep, improper diet. Physiological - e.g Post Natal Depression Bereavement - loss of person, job, even amputation. Guilt - secrets from the past - need forgiveness. Repressed anger

Bible is nitty gritty book. Warts ‘n’ all. e.g. Jeremiah, Job.

Today we’ll look at Elijah’s experiences. He’s a prophet and

God has used him to gain a tremendous spiritual victory against the enemy prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel. Jezebel, Ahab’s wife heard the news. Her message was a chilling one

1 Kings 19:1-3 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, "May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them."

J has contract out on E’s life. Not unusual to find oneself flat or depressed immediately after a spiritual highpoint, such as the mountain top experience at Carmel.

ELIJAH’S CONDITION

1. He was afraid

How does Elijah react to the news?

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. 1 Kings 19:3

Fear can lead to depression - But you say - God enabled Elijah to score a tremendous spiritual victory at Mount Carmel - literally a mountain top experience. Elijah’s a great prophet, a real man of God and yet now he’s running scared.

God’s followers are not immune to bad news or its emotional impact in our lives. Christians shouldn’t be depressed!! That’s wrong thinking.

Are we fearful?

of others expectations - friends/church people.

of the future - can’t face what’s ahead.

of failure - afraid of getting it wrong - criticism

2. He wanted to be alone

When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. 1 Kings 19:3b-4a

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