Summary: How God deals with depression.
1 Kings 19:1 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." 3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, LORD," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors." 5 Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.
Elijah had just witnessed some mighty miracles, hadn’t he? He had seen God’s power revealed over the prophets of Baal....he had witnessed the miracle of God sending rain.......he had seen all the prophets of Baal hunted down and killed......he has JUST seen it! I want to speak to you today about a subjct that I believe has been oppressing Christians since the inception of time....and I believe that it is getting worse and worse as we live in these last days. Satan is working overtime and using whatever tools he can to steal Gods people from their true place in Christ! I want to talk to you about depression! It is a touchey, delicate subject....but we need to know how to battle it as Christians!
I know more about this subject than I ever thought I would. My youngest son was diagnosed with severe depression at 14 yrs old. I felt a large responsibility for that depression. There were problems in our home life and I didn’t do what I should have been doing. I will tell you that this is hard for me to speak to.......there are scars inside me.....but I know that God wants us to come to terms and understand how His children need to deal with depression..to realize that everyone deals with it differently...and to try to see how God would have His children deal with it.
Jezebel send Elijah a message, didn’t she? Basically, she swore to kill him! By the next day! WOW! And sometimes we think we suffer for the Gospel.....so what did Elijah do? Just what a lot of us would do...he ran off! Do you ever feel so over-whelmed that you wish you could just take off? Elijah did just that.....but it didn’t help much, did it? Because we see in vs 4 that he finally gave up. The Bible says he sat down under a tree and prayed that he might die. And I think what he said next is something that many say still..."I have had enough, LORD,".....take me on, I’ve HAD it! And then he laid down and went to sleep. I can tell you that excessive sleep is a sure sign of depression.....and that total resignation and giving up is something Satan uses against us. Have you ever advised someone or heard the words "keep the faith?"
This is definitely a case of depression - Elijah’s depression. There is a stigma in the world regarding mental illness; that stigma, is also found in the church. In James 5:17 we read that Elijah "was a man subject to like passions as we are". In other words he had a nature like our own - a human nature. Therefore, if it can happen to him it can happen to us because we have the same nature - human nature. It would seem from the context that Elijah and, of course, every other child of God, never expected this to happen to him. He was taken by surprise by his own actions, by his own way of thinking.
What we must remember at the beginning is that human nature is a unity of soul or spirit, and body. It is clear from the context that Elijah was exhausted - mentally and physically. We don’t read in the earlier chapter that he was eating and we don’t read that he was sleeping. Sometimes the believer is so lifted up by the Spirit in spiritual activity that he or she forgets these things - that we have a body. When the body goes down the mind may fight to stay up, but it cannot fight against what we call ’gravity’ within the human nature. If the body goes down it will drag down the mind with it. The mind begins to experience a loss. Have you ever gone w/o sleep for an extended period or seen someone with sleep deprevation? That person is, as they sometimes say, not himself any more. There is an experience of losing control of the situation, of your own mind, of movement and even of perceptions. It would seem that Elijah’s disappointment and the threat of Jezebel, acted as a trigger upon his already internal state of exhaustion. It was, so to speak, the last straw which tipped the balance.