Where Does a Mother Go to Resign?
I. BIBLICAL ANSWERS FOR DEPRESSION
Serious mental illnesses (SMIs), which afflict about 6% of American adults, cost society $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year, according to findings published in this month’s American Journal of Psychiatry. Most families feel the cost in their monthly medical bills and the wear and tear of trying to push through a season of depression. The Bible offers practical help in beating back the blues. The Bible is one of the most sophisticated pyschological handbooks in history. It reminds us that anyone and everyone can struggle with depression. Even God’s top prophets: Moses, Jonah, and Elijah struggled with suicide, depression, and sadness. Let’s examine some practical lessons from Elijah.
1. The Roller Coaster Effect: After a Victory Comes a Valley
Elijah has just come off a huge victory against the Baal worshipers. This emotional high sets him up for a devastating crash. This pattern is observable. You can see it in your kids the day after a school play. After months of practice and a great show, they come crashing down. You can see it in yourself after a move. You see it after a baby is born. After the Victory comes a Valley.
2. The Running on “E”ffect: Physical Exhaustion
Elijah has just finished outrunning Ahab’s chariot. This season of physical drainage has his tanks reading “E.” His gauges are low. He is physically tied. This sets him up for an emotional crash.
3. The Runaway Train Effect: Life Seems Out of Control
With the table set for depression, Jezebel sends Elijah a threatening letter. That letter is the catalyst for his spiral. If we don’t see the first two causes, we won’t understand the final straw that breaks our camel’s back. This letter from Jezebel becomes the spark to Elijah’s depression. Look at the circumstances in your life, are you coming off a victory, physically drained, or reacting to a letter (a threat, a phone call, a big fight, an email, an audit)? Perhaps you are not in full fledge sadness yet, but maybe you can Identify symptoms of the blues.
II. IDENTIFY SYMPTOMS OF THE BLUES
Here are six symptoms of depression we see in Elijah’s life:
1 Kings 19:3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there,
1 Kings 19:3-4 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”
It’s striking to see a man of faith honestly share his feelings with God. He is withdrawn and wants God to take his life. Why? He thinks he needs to be better than his ancestors. This reel, ” I must be better” drives him to perfectionism which leads to depression. God never told him he needed to be better than anyone, but this thought rolls around and around in his head. What self talk rolls in your head?
1 Kings 19:4 “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”
1 Kings 19:4 ” I am no better than my ancestors.”
Comparison leads to criticism or conceit. Religion always produces fear, pride or guilt. I will either feel proud that I’ve kept the rules or guilty that I didn’t. Religion drives people into depression and fear of “have I done enough?” God’s grace and message of Christ’s work on the cross is the opposite of religion. Religion is about what we do for God, grace is about what He did for us. Grace fills you with humility, gratitude, and confidence. It frees you from comparing yourself to others.
1 Kings 19:10 He replied, “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.”
Often the exaggerations we believe become “true” in our thinking. Those lies push us deeper into depression. God will later tell Elijah that he is not the ONLY one left. There are thousands who have not bowed to Baal. Until we identify the lie and replace it with truth, our thinking will continue to drive us into deeper sadness. After all, if you keep telling yourself you’re alone, you’ll feel alone -especially when you repeat it over and over like Elijah does.
6. Self-Pity: The Snowball Effect
1 Kings 19:14 He replied, “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.”
Do any of those symptoms ring true for you right now? Do you see yourself, your struggles, and your feelings echoed in Elijah’s conversation? If so, God has a perscription for beating back the blues, for battling spiritual depression.
III. BEATING BACK THE BLUES
1. Take Care of Physical Needs
1 Kings 19:5-7 Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. 7The 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.”
2. Realize the Toll and Receive Help in Your Need
1 Kings 19:7 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.”
3. Rediscover Your Purpose
1 Kings 19:9 There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
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. 16Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel–all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.”
4. Rediscover God
1 Kings 19:11-12 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. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
Imagine the financial cost savings to our mental health, our marriages, and our bottom line, if each of us made a priority of God’s prescription for depression. We sleep more, eat better, and rediscover God daily. Imagine the healing that is possible when we find God in the still small voice.
Finally, remember that if Elijah struggled with depression, it’s okay that you struggle with it as well.
For a free first session of Godonomics, visit: http://www.godonomics.com/watch-session-1