Summary: How we can truly fight depression? The answer is hope. Hope keeps us from sinker deeper into depression.
“What to do when you come to the end of your Hope”
1st Kings 18-19
Distance runners, those who run marathons especially often experience what is called hitting the wall. A marathon is a 26 mile run and they say it usually happens around mile 20. Your energy runs out, your legs become numb and putting 1 foot in front of another becomes almost impossible and then doubt begins to set in. You start thinking will I ever reach the finish line? Will I be able to make it? One runner described hitting the wall this way. He said I felt like an elephant had jumped out of a tree onto my shoulders and he was making me carry him the rest of the way.
In life it seems that at least on occasion we all hit a wall. We feel like life has knocked us down... And there are barriers around us that keep us from going forward. According to 2 world renowned psychiatrists, Dr.’s Frank Minirth and Paul Meier, many Americans, suffer from a serious clinical depression at some point in their lives. Most never get professional help--just choosing to fight this battle on their own. I ran across an ad for Paxil; an antidepressant. The ad began with these words...
• Depressed mood
• loss of interest
• sleep problems
• difficulty concentrating
Then it concluded with these words: “life is too precious to let another day go by feeling not quite like yourself. If you’ve experienced some of the symptoms nearly every day, for at least two weeks, a chemical imbalance could be to blame. And life can feel difficult ALL DAY. Depression is a very real part of life for many people. At the Minirth/Meier clinics in an average week 50,000 people will visit for counseling. Dr. Meyer says that 75% of these clients will have either clinical depression or some sort of anxiety disorder. So I repeat, depression is a very real problem affecting many, many people.
Elijah, one of the great prophets of the Old Testament had many of the classic symptoms of depression. Look with me.
v.3. Elijah was afraid. He ran for his life.
v.4 Elijah had thoughts of dying. Ending it all. I’ve had enough Lord. Take my life.
v. 5. Elijah experienced excessive tiredness. He laid down and slept.
v. 6. Then again.
v. 10. Elijah felt all alone. He felt rejected. He said, “The Israelites have rejected your covenant and 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” and these feelings continued on and on and on.
There are some helpful lessons in this passage for anyone who deals with depression. This is why you need to listen to this message. If you are one of those who is dealing with depression today I hope to show you something answers here from the Scripture. If you’re not one of those who is dealing with depression perhaps you can use this information to pass along to others that God puts in your path of influence.
First of all, depression can happen to anyone. When we first look at Elijah we don’t get the impression that he is a candidate for depression. In fact, just before the events in this story took place, Elijah had the greatest victory in the history of his ministry. This is the setting. The people of Israel had begun to worship the false God Baal. Elijah rebuked them for that and said, “how long will you waver between two opinions?” If the Lord is God, follow him, but if Baal is God, then follow him. Then he issued a challenge to the prophets of Baal. Let’s each prepare a sacrifice, place it on the altar but don’t light it. Then call on the name of your God and I will call the name of my God and whoever answers by sending fire—that one is truly God. So they agreed. So from morning until noon they called upon Baal and nothing happened.
Verse 27. So Elisha began to taunt them. Verse 27. So they did what Elisha said but still there was no response. Then Elijah prepared his sacrifice. Verses 35-39.
This must’ve been the greatest day Elijah had ever experienced. There were 450 prophets he stood up against and he put his life on the line and as a result God brought the whole nation to repentance. Imagine how good he must’ve felt. And that’s when trouble started. His guard was down. He was vulnerable. Look at what he did. Chapter 19 versus 3-4. Elijah was afraid and ran. It doesn’t make sense that this kind of behavior would take place after such a big win/victory. It wasn’t characteristic of Elisha. But here’s the truth-it can happen to anyone. When the pressures of life become too intense, even if we are successful, that does not stop depression from setting in. The apostle Paul said... So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall. Depression can happen to anyone.