Summary: This sermon looks at how Elijah suffered from depression. It looks at the circumstances that made him more likely to suffer from depression and how God lifted him from that dark depression.
Tell me if you can identify with this song. “Gloom, Despair, and agony on me. Deep dark depression and endless misery. If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all, Gloom, despair, and agony on me.” I know that there are times in my past where that could’ve been the theme song of my life. And I would dare say, that I’m not the only one in this room who is like that.
More than seventeen million Americans suffer from depression. The resulting absenteeism and loss of productivity is estimated to cost the American economy more than $20 billion each year. Edward F. Ziegler calls depression "the common cold of psychological disorders.” It is just that common. We all experience days when we get the blues. And it hurts. Not the pain like you would have for a broken bone, but this is worse, this is pain that others can’t see. This is pain that others can’t understand. In one of his reoccurring bouts with depression, Abe Lincoln once said, "If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on earth."
Now some of you here today are struggling with depression. You are down and though you try to lift yourself up, you can’t seem to do it. Your friends and family say, “Just snap out of it!” or “Get over it already!” and only if you could. If only it was that easy.
This morning, I want us to look at a man in the bible, a man who did courageous things for God’s kingdom, and yet a man of God who had to battle getting discouraged and depressed. As we look at Elijah and how God helped him overcome his battle with depression, I ask this morning that you let the Holy Spirit speak to you and comfort you this morning, and allow Him to help you to overcome your thoughts of discouragement and depression.
Now Elijah had many reasons to be depressed, but I think he had more reasons why he shouldn’t be depressed. First of all, he knew the power of God. God did mighty things through Elijah. While a fugitive in a foreign land, he lived with a widow and her son. Upon Elijah’s promise, their food supply was never depleted—their last jar of flour never ran out, and the last jug of oil never ran dry. When the widow’s son mysteriously and suddenly died, Elijah raised him from the dead! Elijah knew that God worked miracles, he had saw it first hand. So why should he doubt the power of God to save now?
The second reason why Elijah shouldn’t have been afraid is that he had confidence in God. God had delivered him before and had provided and protected him many of times. When Elijah predicted a drought and a famine, the famine did come as he predicted, and Elijah was forced to flee for his life; but while he was in hiding, God sustained him by having the ravens bring food to him feeding him miraculously every day. If God, who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow cared for Elijah then, surely Elijah would know that God would take care of him in the circumstances of today.
And the third thing is that Elijah was an obedient prophet. If Elijah was a wayward prophet who had been ignoring God’s instructions, then it might be easier to understand, but Elijah was an obedient prophet. He wasn’t like Jonah he tried to run and not do what God told him to do. Elijah was living in the will of God, doing what God told him to do and doing it when God told him to do it. Yet with all this said, Elijah still got discouraged and Elijah still got depressed.
You know, we as Christians have a great deal going for us. We know that God cares for us, He’s proven it to us through the cross. We know that God provides for us, We have a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, and bread in our belly. We know that God works miracles, we’ve seen it first hand in this church…and I wish I could say that as Christians we never got the blues, that we never got discouraged or depressed…but that’s simply not true.
As Christians, we have the joy, joy, joy down in our hearts, but we are not immune from having those blue moods. Great Christian men and women have struggled with bouts of deep dark depression. The great reformer Martin Luther was prone to bouts of depression so much so that he would lock himself in his study. Once his wife dressed in all black and wore a black veil, when Luther asked her, “who died?” She said, “God did!” Luther got upset and said that would never happen, and she replied, “Well then, stop acting like it has”. Even the great leader of the Protestant Reformation got depressed. Luther wasn’t the only one. Moses got depressed, David prayed that God would take him away, Job cursed the day he was born. Charles Spurgeon, the prince of preachers from back in the 18th century, used to get so depressed that occasionally the church deacons would have to carry him to the pulpit. Charles Spurgeon later stated that, “The best of men are but men at best.” So it is understandable for us to feel defeated and depressed and stressed out occasionally, but that should not be the norm. The Christians life is one marked by joy, but to think that means that you’ll never have those bad days when you get the blues is simply unrealistic.