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Elijah Suffered From Depression


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The Bible and Depression: Introduction

Introduction: Elijah Suffered from Depression

The Lord’s Word shows that man has suffered from depression throughout history. Depression can affect all people, small and great, no matter who you are and even when things are going so well you feel like you are on the mountain top. Many Biblical men and women of God, such as David, Moses, Job, Elijah, Sara, Hannah and others dealt with depression.

What can we learn from these examples and Biblical principles?

Consider Elijah an Old Testament Prophet. Elijah had a close relationship with God and was used powerfully by Him. In fact, Elijah was taken by a Chariot of fire by the Lord (2 Kings 2:11).

Many people witnessed the greatness of God through this prophet. Elijah encouraged many people.

He helped a widow and her son who were down-and-out and had only enough food for one more meal. Elijah told the widow that God would provide, and He did. (1 Kings 17:12-16).

Later, when her son died, Elijah was used to perform a miracle. Elijah asked God to bring the son back to life, and God did. (1 Kings 17:17-24).

Elijah did many other amazing works by the power of God, but the Bible shows that even great men of God can get tripped up by the trials and challenges of living God's way in a world under the sway of Satan.

Elijah’s slide into depression

The story of Elijah's descent into depression is a classic. Not only was Elijah hated and threatened with death by the evil Queen Jezebel, he also felt his work had been in vain and that no one else was supporting God. He felt totally alone, vulnerable and hopeless. Being human like you and me, all this started to get to him.

Elijah was overwhelmed and wanted to quit. No one knew Elijah was depressed. But God did.

God approached Elijah, and Elijah told God that he had been doing his best, but it was all for nothing. Elijah told God he was tired and just wanted to quit and die! (1 Kings 19:1-4).

From 1 Kings 19:4

4 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.

Here was Elijah, in the throes of depression. But look at what Elijah had just accomplished:

  • Elijah prayed for rain and it came ending a drought.
  • Elijah had called down actual fire from heaven.
  • The nation of Israel had turned back to God.
  • Elijah had killed 850 pagan prophets.
  • Elijah had outrun the king's chariot.

These were major accomplishments. But then from what was a so called mountain top, Elijah fell into the valley of depression. This should be a warning to all of us: no matter who we are, what we have accomplished – we are always subject to fall into depression.

Just like Elijah, there is hope even from the darkest depression. Here we see God restoring Elijah’s hope … God then did something surprising. First He put on a display of His power. But immediately afterward, He comforted Elijah by talking with him in a gentle whisper. God also quietly told Elijah that He had more work for him to do and let him know he wasn't alone. God showed Elijah He was more than just a mighty God of power. He was also a compassionate God that cared. Elijah's hope was restored.

This should be good news to all who have a relationship with the Lord. The Lord has a plan and purpose for each one of us – just like He did for Elijah.

If you have not received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, if you do not have a relationship with the Lord, read this next section carefully. Giving your life to Jesus can help many suffering from depression. Elijah was ministered to (1 Kings 19:5-18)

5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.
6 And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.
7 And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.
8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.

Then the Lord restored Elijah:

9 And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?
10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?
14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. Then the Lord once again used Elijah:
15 And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:
16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.
17 And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.
18 Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

In this passage on Elijah we see several symptoms of depression that affect so many people, especially people in recovery:

  • A sense of hopelessness and worthlessness.
  • Despair and thoughts of ending one’s life.
  • Isolation from others

Next week we will continue looking at this same Scripture from a modern secular perspective and continue a study of the Biblical solution.

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