Summary: How Elijah deals with depression in 1 Kings 19:1-8
Depression is a condition all Christians will experience at some point in their lives. There are many false ideas about depression that I would like to clear up. First of all I would like to say that I am NOT a doctor and there are depression situations which should be treated with medicine. God blessed mankind with knowledge pertaining to medicine, so let’s use it. This being said, our spiritual condition has nothing to do with depression. Just because we feel depressing emotions does not mean we are lacking in faith. We have a fallen nature with its needs, wants, and emotions that can sometimes be overbearing. Another idea people may believe is that they are alone in feeling depressed, that they are unique and too far from “normal” (whatever that may be). They feel there is no hope; that no one will understand. These feeling can become so intense that a person may even consider ending their own life.
There are different kinds of depression and different causes of depression. Dr. Gary R. Collins Ph.D. talks about four different types of depression.
1. Reactive depression – emotions that can be felt after real or imagined loss or after a traumatic event.
2. Endogenous depression- depression that comes from within and doesn’t have a definite source.
3. Psychotic depression – intense despair and self-destructive attitudes
4. Neurotic- dysthymia
Many causes of depression are:
1. Physical-Genetic causes
3. Learned Helplessness
4. Negative Thinking
5. Life Stress
The Bible has a lot to say about depression. David, the second king of Israel and a man after God’s own heart, struggled with depression. In Psalms 43:5 we read, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” David is telling his soul to “Hope in God”, but he felt saddened nonetheless. He knows God is a faithful God, a God who “is the health of my countenance”, a God worthy of praise, and yet he was feeling depressed. Many Christians may feel this same way.
When I was deep in my drug addiction, I had many bouts with depression, mainly feelings of anger toward myself for where I was in life and the choices I had made. I knew I was saved as a teenager but I could not handle my low self-esteem and anxiety around others. I felt everyone had received a memo on life and mine was lost. People use drugs because they work; they gave me the release from life I was looking for. However, this “solution” only added to my problems. It’s hard to grow up when all you want to do is party. God was with me during these times and I had occasional revivals to straighten out my life but my depression still remained. I had to learn life on life’s terms. I had to learn to rely on God and not myself for victory over my flesh.
1 Kings 19:1-18 tells the story of Elijah and he’s struggle with suicidal depression. This mighty man of God had just claimed victory over the prophets of Baal on their own mountain. Mt. Caramel was supposedly the home of this false god and the place where he displayed his might through thunder and lightning. 1 Kings 18:20-40 records how Jehovah God used Elijah to show the nation of Israel He was the only One and true God. After God demonstrated His might in this showdown with the prophets of Baal, Elijah calls for all of Jezebel’s prophets to be killed. Jezebel was the Queen of Israel and a devoted follower of Baal. King Ahab had married Jezebel for political reasons and allowed her false religion to infect his life and the Israeli kingdom. Upon hearing what happened, Jezebel threatened Elijah that before the day was over she was going to kill him (v.2 of chap.19). Elijah hearing this, surprisingly, goes into hiding. He runs south to Beersheba; a 90 mile journey from Samaria, the capital of Israel. He gets there, tells his servant to hang tight, and goes another 15 miles into the middle of the desert. Some people may say, “Shame on him!” or “I would have done different”, however, it is easy for us to say what we would have done after the fact. We have to consider all that Elijah had been through.
1. He had been alone for 3 ½ years during a drought that he himself implemented. That’s a long time without any human interaction. I’m sure he worried for his people during this time, also. Have you ever been in a powerless situation?
2. We have to consider to anxiety he must have felt when you faced the prophets of Baal. Of course he had God and the verses tell us he was mocking them, but he was only human. He must have felt some sense of fear. Being brave doesn’t mean you don’t fear, it means facing the challenge with your fear. Have you ever been fearful?