Summary: This sermon is a case study in the causes and cures of depression. Elijah is depressed and God knows how to help him out of that dark place.
A. The story is told of a depressed man who was sitting at a bar just looking at his drink.
1. He stayed like that for half an hour.
2. Suddenly, a big, mean-looking man stepped next to him, took the drink from the guy, and just drank it all down.
3. This caused the depressed man to start crying.
4. The other man tried to cheer him up, saying: “Come on man, I was just joking. Here, I'll buy you another drink. I just can't stand seeing a man cry.”
5. “No, it's not that,” said the depressed man. “This day is the worst of my life. First, I fell asleep, and I got to work late. My boss, in an outrage, fired me. When I left the building and went to my car, I found out it was stolen. I took a cab to home, but after he drove away I realized my wallet was still in the cab. Then I walked in the house only to realize that my wife had packed up everything and left me. Finally, I came to this bar. And when I was about to end to my life, you showed up and drank my glass of poison. Could my day get any worse?”
B. Truthfully, discouragement and depression are nothing to joke about.
1. Here are some sobering words that maybe you can identify with:
“What name shall we give to this darkness within, against which our soul is helpless to fight?
What shall we call this attitude grim that smothers our heart and refuses the light?”
2. What is this occasional shadow on our emotions that Winston Churchill called his “black dog?”
3. What is this heaviness of heart that caused Nathaniel Hawthorne to write: “I have excluded myself from society; and yet I never meant any such thing. I have made a captive of myself and put me into a dungeon, and now I cannot find the key to let myself out.” ?
4. What caused the fierce, agonizing spells that so beset Martin Luther that we wrote: “For more than a week I was close to the gates of death and hell. I trembled in all my members. Christ was wholly lost. I was shaken by desperation and blasphemy of God.” ?
C. What is the name of this darkness? Its’ name is depression.
1. What is depression? It is a protracted period of despondency that greatly curtails, or even destroys one’s ability to function as a healthy, happy child of God.
2. What are the symptoms of depression? They may include:
a. Sadness/moodiness: feeling discouraged, angry, and irritable.
b. Painful thoughts: such as guilt, helplessness, worthlessness and a desire to be dead.
c. Feelings of anxiety: being worried and tense.
d. Physical symptoms include: sickness, no appetite, headaches, and insomnia.
D. Who becomes depressed?
1. Depression is to the emotions what the common cold is to the body – it strikes about everyone at some point.
2. About 1 American in 20 is depressed at any given time.
3. Depression does hit some of us harder than others:
a. Women are depressed twice as often as men.
b. People in upper income brackets are three times more depressed than those with lower incomes.
c. Depression is more common when a person is in their 40’s and 50’s.
(Stats are from Minirth & Meier, Happiness is a Choice, 1978)
4. What about Christians, do they become depressed?
a. Oh, yes, God’s children are not immune to becoming depressed.
b. But as God’s children, we should be better equipped to handle and recover from depression, but we are not immune from it.
5. Did you know that some of the greatest people in the Bible went through periods of depression?
a. Moses once became so blue and discouraged that he asked God to take his life.
b. Jonah, after the great revival at Nineveh, did the very same thing.
c. The Apostle Paul “despaired even of life” at certain points in his ministry.
E. And guess who else in the Bible became depressed? You guessed it, Elijah.
1. For a number of weeks, we have been studying the life and example of Elijah.
2. Elijah, indeed, was a heroic prophet. He was also a man of great faith, obedience and humility, as we have seen.
3. But we must never forget that Elijah was a man just like us – he was a human being who was also subject to the human condition, as we all are.
4. Elijah experienced, discouragement, despondency and depression, and on one occasion, he couldn’t shake it.
F. I’m so glad that this chapter has been included in Scripture.
1. I’m glad that when God paints the portraits of His men and women, He paints them with warts and all.