Summary: A case study in clinical depression and what God did to bring healing to Elijah.
OPEN: Psychiatry students were in their college class one day when their professor began a discussion to prove a point. "What we’re going to talk about today," the professor said, "are the emotional extremes that many mentally disturbed people go through… for example
“What’s the opposite of joy?" he asked one student.
"Sadness" the student answered.
"The opposite of depression?" he asked a young lady.
"Elation," she replied.
Turning to a young man from Texas he asked "the opposite of woe?"
"Well, now," the Texan replied "I suppose the opposite of woe, would be giddy up."
According to Psychiatrists Frank Minrith & Paul Meier, the majority of Americans suffer from a serious, clinical depression at some point in their lives. Most of these people never get help....they just fight this battle on their own.
ILLUS: When I was reading out Reader’s Digest this last month, I ran across an advertisement for Paxil, an anti-depressant (Reader’s.Digest, 2/03). It began with these words…
Loss of Interest
Then it concluded with these words: "Life is too precious to let another day go by feeling not quite ’yourself.’ If you’ve experienced some of these symptoms nearly every day, for at least two weeks, a chemical imbalance could be to blame. And life can feel difficult ALL DAY."
APPLY: To read this advertisement you would believe that most (if not all) of those suffering from depression are victims of a chemical imbalance. And indeed, the Holy Grail of psychiatrists is to find that magic pill, that powerful potion that will correct that imbalance and give people everywhere relief from the dark moments of sadness and hopelessness.
Depression is very real part of life for many people
ILLUS: A couple of years ago, the South East Christian Church offered a time during their Wednesday Evening Service (attendance of at least 600) for people to come forward and have the Elders lay hands on them and pray for healing. The speaker pointed out that there was "a lot of hurt in this room" - sickness, broken relationships, grief. He said that at the invitation, the elders would be available for prayers of healing.
The response began as a trickle. Soon, others began making their way down from the balcony; walking along individually or in pairs, or rolling forward in wheelchairs. Before long, the trickle became a torrent.
Elder Bob Carpenter said he was not prepared for the response to the invitation. "I was totally surprised by the magnitude of it."
Elder Bill Beauchamp did not expect the vast response either… nor did he anticipate the type of prayer needs revealed. "At least 2 out of 3 asked for prayer for depression," he said.
"I thought it would be more for physical needs. But so many said, ’I’m depressed. I feel unworthy. I see no future." I was amazed at how many felt unworthy."
ILLUS: At the famous Minrith-Meier Clinics - in an average week, 50,000 people will visit the for therapy. Seventy-five percent of these clients, says Dr. Meier, will have either
clinical depression or some sort of anxiety disorder.
Let me repeat… Depression can be a very real problem
I. What I find interesting, is – God gives us a case study in clinical depression right here in I Kings 19
From this text we find that Elijah experienced many of the classic symptoms…
* Fear - “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life….” 1 Kings 19:3
* Suicidal tendencies – “(Elijah) prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, LORD,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’ 1 Kings 19:4
* Excessive tiredness – “Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep…” 1 Kings 19:5 slept for a couple of days… maybe longer
* Feelings of rejection – “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” 1 Kings 19:10
* AND he experienced this depression for a long time – nearly 2 months
Now, what’s really bizarre about this is (that just days before) Elijah had preached one of the greatest sermons of his life. He confronted 400 prophets of Baal on the Mt. Carmel and exposed them as the false prophets they really were. And because of Elijah’s faith & obedience God literally sent fire down out of heavens to consume the sacrifice he’d placed on the altar, and then a few hours later sent a downpour of rain on a land that hadn’t had rain for 3 years.
Why would a man who had preached a impressive message and had experienced some of the most powerful displays of God’s power… Why would he suddenly be crippled by fear, hopelessness and despair? Why would he run away to a desolate corner of the world and seek to die?