I have heard people say, “You just need to get out there and start serving the Lord, then you will feel better.” People have said this as if the cause and cure of depression revolve around evangelism. Nothing could be further from the truth. But how do we get out of depression? How do we stop the suicidal thoughts?
Yesterday, we looked at God’s response to Elijah. He let Elijah sleep and eat. He let Elijah rest physically. He rested mentally and emotionally as he slept. God knows what we need and we don’t need to simply go and work at a Christian concert to get better. The church is not the answer. Scripture reading is not the answer. Fellowship with other believers is not the answer. All of these could be part of the solution, but none of them actually address the issue. Let’s go back and look at Elijah:
1 Kings 19:5-10
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night.
The LORD Appears to Elijah
And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn 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.
The Lord asks Elijah a question, “What are you doing here?” We might say that the angel directed Elijah to the mountain of God. And this is true, but why did God call Elijah to this place in the midst of his depression. And then God doesn’t seem to give an answer but instead challenges Elijah to look at himself honestly to know why he was there.
God was directing Elijah to his thought process that had brought him to this place. Elijah had made some assumptions and convinced himself of some things that were not true. Elijah told the Lord that he was the only prophet of God remaining, but this wasn’t true. It wasn’t true at all. There were many. Obadiah had hidden 100 of the Lord’s prophets in a cave. Now, perhaps, Elijah felt like he was the only prophet actually doing the work of the Lord. I don’t know. But he felt as if he were the only one that could take care of the problem with Ahab and Jezebel. But this wasn’t true.
So often, our depression begins with thoughts we have that are not true. These thoughts need to be deleted. We can so easily convince ourselves of things that are not true. We let fear and bar discernment. We expect things to continue without considering the power of God to change things. We look at the current situation, play it out in our mind as if there is no God, and it is overwhelming. This is why God brought Elijah to the mountain of God. God needed to remind Joshua that He is still working and things will not continue in the trajectory they seem. He will change everything.
God was attempting to get Elijah to challenge the thoughts that first created the struggle that led him to suicide ideation in the desert. When we are depressed, we must first challenge what we believe to be true to make sure we are not basing our prediction of a situation as if God doesn’t exist. If we are scared, nervous, jealous, we need to ask ourselves if our feelings are based on what is true or what we think will happen unless God cares.
Here is what God does next:
1 Kings 19:11-13
The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
God reminded Elijah how He works. He does not destroy suddenly those who rebel against Him, but instead, He is gracious. He doesn’t send down bolts of lightning against those who choose to rebel against Him. Instead, His Spirit attempts to move and influence the person. The Spirit comes soft and low, full of love and mercy, attempting to redeem.
God was letting Elijah know that His will was first for Ahab to become a devout follower. This would have the greatest impact on most people. If Ahab had become a sincere follower of Jehovah, he could have moved the entire nation so close to the Lord. But Elijah was not up for grace. He did not want to see Ahab and Jezebel get grace. He wanted them struck down.
When we are struggling with depression, we want God to fix things now. We want to see the lightning bolts and hear the thunder. We want mountains to move. But God doesn’t work through the great disasters that force change. No, He works by His Spirit. He is slow always trying to redeem those who have hurt us. Depression stems from our desire to see things changed for us not considering how God might be using the moment for someone else’s heart.
Finally, what does God do:
1 Kings 19:15-18
The LORD said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”
This is what Elijah was afraid of. He was afraid that the people were going to get away with it. He was afraid that the people would continue to turn to the false gods without any consequences. He wanted the nation to turn back to God and those who would refuse to repent to be destroyed.
The Lord has Elijah to appoint some others and assure him that justice would be done and evil would not get to run rampant forever. In other words, things looked bad because God moves slow trying to save as many as possible. This can appear as if God is not doing anything when He really is. It seems like the devil is winning when in reality, God is still trying to steal back some the devil has stolen from him.
When the Lord reassures us with His promises that justice will be done and every wrong will be righted, and we accept His word, then we see everything differently. A new perspective is what moves us away from depression and suicidal thoughts. He has promised to rescue. He has promised to help. He has promised justice. He has promised wisdom. He has promised power. He has promised miracles. He has promised hope and a future. When we hold on to these and choose to put our faith in God to do what He has promised, we can see a breakthrough from depression.
If you are struggling today, what false assumptions have you made? Have you forgotten how the Lord moves slowly by His Spirit? Are you able to believe HIs promise to make things right in His time?
I pray these posts have been helpful. Please share them with anyone who may be struggling with depression, sadness, or suicidal thoughts.
Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!