Summary: Beginning with a monologue that takes some poetic license as Elijah passes the mantle to Elisha, this teaching gives tips from a Biblical model on dealing with depression.
[This sermon began with a monologue. It presumed that Elijah needed to fill Elisha in on what had gone before. With dramatic license, it recounts what is in the Bible’s account, even though the Bible doesn’t specify that Elijah actually filled Elisha in or needed to fill Elisha in on Elijah’s ministry as a prophet. If you have no patience with monologues, feel free to skip to the section called Dealing With Depression.]
Elisha! Elishah ben-Shaphat! I bring a word from the Lord. I know you’re busy. Twelve yoke of oxen—pretty impressive! God never gave me so much. Well, don’t get me wrong. God gave me a lot. It’s just that wealth wasn’t part of it. I suppose being God’s messenger, flying in the face of earthly authority to deliver a word of divine authority. That’s a blessing of its own. You think so? I’m glad you think so.
(Removing his mantle) I have a blessing for you. You might not think it’s a blessing, but (handing over his mantle) I’m not the one who flies in the face of earthly authority anymore. I’m not the one with divine authority. Shalom! God bless you!
(Turning to walk away, then turning back) Kiss your father? Give shalom to your family? Go ahead. Go back. I have no authority. Stay with your business. I’ve already asked too much of you. Being a prophet, it’s not always what it seems. Flying in the face of authority? You’re never thanked, even when you’re right.
Take our own king—bringing that ambitious little siren from Phoenicia and placing her on the throne. Created a whole new fad in Israel. Everyone had to try out Tyrean Baal. We were wealthier than we had ever been. We had important international alliances. No one could be bothered with God’s laws. They were fine for the desert, but now we were cosmopolitan Israel.
I told him, “As sure as God who caused to be, continues to be, and will always be is alive, there will be no rain until God gives me the word.” I think God just wanted him and everyone else to know that Baal doesn’t bring the rain, no matter how excited with blood lust and sexual lust they made him. And I didn’t even have to suffer with Israel. God sent me to the Wadi Cherith and fed me in a way I’d never have expected.
The ravens are carrion-eaters. You wouldn’t expect God to feed a kosher prophet with a non-kosher bird, would you? Be ready, Elisha. God has a way of surprising you. What a life! Drinking from the spring and eating what the birds brought you morning and evening. Only then, even the wadi dried up. A drought doesn’t just affect the fields, you know.
Imagine that! I’m exactly where God told me to be and God lets my only source of water dry up. I thought it was going to be the end for me, but God told me to go to Zarephath and see a certain widow. I went. After all, how much worse could it be to visit a Phoenician widow than to be fed by carrion-eating birds? For a while, I thought it was definitely going to be worse.
I approached the widow with a request, a simple meal of some water and a little bit of pita. She told me she only had enough oil to make a piece of pita bread for her and one for her son before they died. At first, I wanted to ask God why he sent me to such a hopeless situation. Then, I remembered that there was always hope with God. I assured the woman that if she brought me a little piece of pita, God who caused all, keeps all together, and has a plan for all would see that she wouldn’t run out of oil until the drought was over. She believed me and God came through.
I’m used to God coming through. You should get used to it, too. But don’t expect it to happen on your schedule. And don’t expect it to always happen conveniently in your favor. Sometimes, I think God allows prophets, maybe any of God’s people, to experience inconvenient, even painful experiences so we don’t take God for granted. For me, I entered that lady’s house as a hero, saving my hostess’s and son’s life. But one day, that son died. I was a pariah, not a hero.
I cried out to God and God directed me to stretch myself over the young man three times. And when I finished, God put the spirit of life back into her son. Then, the woman said that she had treated me as a messenger of God before, but now she really knew that I was a servant of God. Of course, now that I was comfortable, it was time to be on the move again.